“It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed is you.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald.
What does it mean to you when your spouse comes home after a long day? That mid-day transition that often makes or breaks the rest of the evening. That moment where the expectation of a day dream collides with the reality of worn out responsibility? What does it mean to you when you come home to your spouse waiting for you? That moment where your wants, needs and wishes transects the chaos of your residential universe? You know, that moment. That moment where so many of us blow it. Ever had a huge weekday fight? The kind of fight that seemingly has no origin or central premise? It’s an area of vulnerabilty akin to the underbelly of an turtle. Most couples I work with are surprised to learn that this daily transition is often the portal to a poor afternoon and evening. The good news is, it’s an easy fix, and all you need are the basics.
“The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.” – Charles Dickens
1: Start the day with acts of love.
Your day ends how it starts. Do not take the morning for granted. You’re in love right? Act like it. Set apart ten minutes to snuggle. Make some kind of meaningful connection. Do not wait for the other person to take the lead. My wife leaves before I do on a typical weekday. She wakes me up to kiss me goodbye. I hang onto that all day, like a parking space I’m saving. She tells me not to get up, knowing I’m going to anyway. I follow her outside regardless of the darkness or the weather. She backs out. Stops. Rolls down the window. We wave. I sometimes dance. Then off we go. Nauseating right? Maybe, but so worth it. This is a place my wife and I got to through hard work. Hard, but not complicated.
“Promise me you’ll never forget me because if I thought you would, I’d never leave.” – A. A. Milne.
2: Communicate throughout the day, about the day.
However much you and your spouse talk, it’s not enough. You have to talk more. If you want your marriage to last, and I mean last, you have to communicate more. For the record, when I say “last” I mean to continue in a comprehensively thriving way. I don’t mean simply enduring or not giving up. When you and your spouse come together and that transition occurs, let there be no surprises and no unknown expectations. Let there simply be decreasing space between the two of you. Talk, text, social media, love notes in purses, paper lipstick kisses in shirt pockets. Whatever works. You’re in love right? Act like it. Do not treat the day as if it is happening to you. Do not treat your marriage as if it’s operated by a remote control. My wife and I have demanding jobs that require intense interpersonal interactions. My wife is a medical professional in the operating room and I am a mental health professional. It takes work to stay in touch. One of the things we enjoy is stealing phone calls from each other. I will just randomly call her and the majority of the time I get her voicemail. But sometimes I get her. Sometimes, and it’s usually only enough time to say hi and I love you but it is so worth it. Nauseating right? Maybe, but so worth it. This is a place my wife and I got to through hard work. Hard, but not complicated.
“It’s easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself.” – Johann Sebastian Bach.
3: Touch before you talk.
This one is truly transformative. How often do we just start talking to our spouse when we come home? They could be in another room altogether. We might be in another room and hear them come in and we just start talking. Where is the regard for the other person? Is our selfish priority more important than the physical warmth of our lover? It could be a hug, a kiss, a fist bump, a tickle, a pat on the back, or unexpected seduction. It all works. You’re in love right? Act like it. My wife and I seem to favor tight hugs. Nauseating right? Maybe, but so worth it. This is a place my wife and I got to through hard work. Hard, but not complicated.
“Mankind’s greatest gift, also it’s greatest curse, is that we have free choice. We can make our choices built from love or by fear.” – Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.
Remember just because your spouse came home yesterday, doesn’t mean they’re coming home today. Bring a sense of urgency back to your relationship. We return to our homes and our lovers because we choose to. Remind yourself daily that when your spouse returns to you, it’s because they’ve chosen to return to you. Reward them for that. Not in some gross codependent way, but in a healthy way. If you don’t know what that is, do the work and find out. You can start by simply acknowledging the truth of the matter, and you can do so with gratitude. “Hey, thank you for being here, in my life.” You’re in love right? Act like it. Do the hard work. It may be hard, but it’s not complicated.