75 Habits for a Happy Marriage
by Ashley Davis Bush, LCSW and Daniel Arthur Bush, PhD
The authors both offered excellent insight into why certain things might be working, or not working, within a long term relationship then gave 75 fairly simple, and concrete, habits that can be instituted to increase harmony and a sense of connection in the relationship. Some require the cooperation of both partners but most can be done by just one half of the couple and may have a positive impact on the relationship, regardless of whether the second half of the couple actively participates or simply passively receives.
The book is separated into Fundamentals, Communication Building Habits, Connection Building Habits, and Intimacy Building Habits.
Though the explanations of why each habit works, how to do the item and sometimes an illustrative anecdote are given, the habits themselves are incredibly simple. Each one is prompted by something that is likely to happen during the course of the day so that you will be prompted to initiate the habit.
The authors claim that small moments of daily intimacy really can make a dramatic difference in your relationship. They pull in a wealth of research and information in choosing the habits in this book. Not every habit will resonate with each person. Some may not seem feasible, or desirable, at the moment. Depending on what is lacking in your relationship – Communication, Connection or Intimacy – some may be more immediately useful than others.
Connection Building Habits
When most couples say they have trouble communicating, the author asserts they actually may be having trouble feeling connected. These habits can help. Three of my favorite -
Touch Tone – When you’re having dinner together, make it a point to make contact with your spouse during your meal.
Thanks for the Memories – When you’re going to bed, take a moment to thank your spouse for some action, word or experience during the day.
Coast to Coast – when you see your lover sitting in front of a computer, walk behind them and gently sweep your hand across their back from one shoulder to the other.
Communication Building Habits
“When a couple tells me that they cannot communicate, usually what they mean is that they argue frequently, can’t be honest with each other.”
The Dating Game – Just before you go on a date, take a few minutes to close your eyes and remember your first meeting or early courtship with your beloved.
Better to Give – As you begin your date, give your beloved a compliment.
Through the Years – As you’re waiting for food, take turns sharing happy memories from your time together.
Intimacy Building Habits
Spoonful of Sugar – When you’re having dessert or a treat together, feed your spouse a bite of the food.
Angel Wings – When your spouse seems sad, tired or anxious, sit with them and sync up your breathing.
Penny – When you or your spouse is sitting in silence and you’d like to start a conversation, say penny, as in “for your thoughts” and the other has to answer with what they are thinking right that moment.
There are also habits for couples who are truly in conflict and suffering with criticism, contempt, defensiveness or stonewalling.
It can be hard to look at this type of information or focus on it because it points out what is going wrong but hopefully there are things going right too, which can be built upon. I personally think the small habits that can be done daily have more a trajectory changing power than the ones that are only triggered occasionally by something like a date. (Of course, some people may go out on dates more often than once every three months.) We have this book in digital format at our library and it was easy to bookmark pages then go back and make notes of the habits I liked. Over all, a very useful little book, I’d give it 4.5 stars.