Healthy Habits for a Stronger Marriage
Hall of Fame basketball coach John Wooden once said, “The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”
I didn’t fully grasp the meaning of this quote until I was doing a seminar entitled “The Family Matrix” at a summer camp for high school students.
I started the session playing a fun game with them called “Would You Rather?” I gave the group a series of two choices to pick from such as, “Would you rather be completely invisible for one day, or be able to fly for one day?” If they chose to be invisible, they had to run to the right side of the room. If they chose being able to fly, they would run to the left side of the room.
“Run to your right if you’d like to live in Narnia. Run to your left if you’d rather go to school at Hogwarts.”
“Run to your right if you’d rather hold a snake. Run to your left if you’d rather eat a spider.”
Since we were talking about family relationships I finished with this question. “Run to your right if you could have your deepest wish fulfilled. Run to your left if you could just know that your parents were passionately in love with each other.”
I have to admit I was a little shocked when I saw over eighty high school students and their young adult leaders all run to their left. Every single person in the room preferred “knowing their parents were passionately in love with each other” over “having their deepest wish fulfilled”.
Then I understood what John Wooden was talking about.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loves the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Giving of ourselves to our spouse has an incredible impact on our kids. Developing healthy loving habits can help us grow stronger together.
This has been one of the key themes of a retreat that I do for couples called the Marriage Booster Retreat. On this retreat, we often ask couples to brainstorm healthy habits that might help fan the flame of love in their marriage. Then we have them break down the list into things they can do on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis to strengthen their love.
Below are some of the most popular habits couples on our retreats have shared. Take a look at these and see if any of these might be a good fit for you and your spouse.
Healthy Habits of Couples
Once a Day
- Take 15-30 minutes of “Us Time” with no distractions
- Kiss for ten seconds each day.
- Let kids see your affection
- Do an act of kindness towards the other
- Pray together
- Put away cell phones at the dinner table
- Read scripture together
- Laugh together
- Complement each other (especially in front of kids)
- Encourage each other
- Check-in on daily schedule
- Talk together (not just about family logistics)
- Ask your spouse what you can do for them that day.
- Pray for your spouse
- Kiss hello and goodbye
- Remember to touch – Hold hands, hug, backrubs
- Say “I love you”
- Connect throughout the day – Text, phone, email
- Show interest in your spouse’s life
- Take walks together
- Share at least one meal together each day
- Find something to say “Thank You” for each day.
Once a Week
- Date night – go out or have a date at home
- Go to church together
- Create some sort of family time together
- Do a family devotion (See Family Time Training & Tim Shoemaker for some great ideas.)
- Cook a meal together
- Do the dishes by hand together (no dishwasher)
- Coordinate the calendar for week
- Take things off the calendar if it is overwhelming
- Talk about shared responsibilities
- Watch a movie or favorite TV show
- Exercise together
- Do an emotional check-in
- Make love (at least once per week)
- Do one special act of service for the other
- Play a game together
- Let each spouse have some alone time
- Help each other with chores
- Couple’s bible study
- Have a pillow talk
Once a Month
- Volunteer together
- Get out in nature
- Go on a special date – concert, theater, romantic dinner
- Experience something new or different
- Go through calendars and compare schedules
- Plan something to look forward to
- Review family finances and budget
- Surprise your spouse with a gift
- Do a fun activity together
- Find a hobby that you can do together
- Write a love note
- Double date with another couple
- Brag about our spouse to someone else
- Review priorities – God, Marriage, Kids, then everything else, in that order
Once a Year
- Go on a vacation without kids (1 or 2 times per year)
- Attend a marriage retreat
- Discuss your family budget
- Make a tithing plan
- Schedule date nights for the year and put them in your calendar
- Talk about goals and vision for your family and marriage
- Write a long love letter to your spouse
- Evaluate expectations, needs, wants and desires
- Try four new restaurants this year
- Read two marriage books and talk about them
Use these examples to come up with your own list of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly habits that you would like to incorporate into your marriage and family. When you do, you will find that both your marriage and your children will benefit. If you think of other habits that you do, please share them in the comment section below and we will add them to the list.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on
toward love and good deeds…encouraging one another.