Two “Cs” that most people connect with Valentine’s Day are Candy and Cards. With love in the air, approximately $2 billion will be spent on candy and nearly $1 billion on cards in the hope of making your spouse or a significant other feel special. However, after one week, the gifts of candy and cards are simply one day of romance and actual ongoing marital life becomes a reality.
Although candy and cards have their place, the Seven “Cs” are what keep a marital relationship healthy on a consistent basis. The Seven “Cs” create satisfaction and bring about regular contentment and happiness. Think of the “Cs” in this article as daily vitamins for the successful well-being of your relationship both on Valentine’s Day and everyday.
Have a daily dialogue with good give-and-take communication. Ask two consecutive questions of each other to promote an exchange of information. Share the activities of your day and personal feelings about what went well. Give your spouse excellent focused attention which means wonderful eye contact and reflective listening, echoing what they share with you. Talking is sharing, but listening well is truly caring and that defines the heart of communication.
In relationships, there is the sowing and reaping principle of “what we give, we usually receive.” When a spouse sows compliments, they will usually reap compliments in return. Praise or a compliment also creates positive energy and a stronger connection between a husband and wife. The best way to compliment or praise is to give an “Appreciation Vitamin” with the words, “I appreciate . . . “ Please remember to always appreciate both internal qualities as well as external activities. Never let a day go by without giving an “Appreciation Vitamin” to your partner.
Consistent, meaningful touch is an essential component for a strong connection. Healthy couples practice small acts of touching on a daily basis. Scratch her back, lovingly squeeze his hand, give her quick kisses, rub his shoulders, stroke her hair, and frequently hold hands. A lack of initiating touch by both partners often leads to sexual intimacy struggles. On the positive side, view physical touch as the cement for your relationship.
Create a close emotional bond by being a giver not a taker. God said the “two shall be one,” hence intently focus on strengthening your “Oneness” or closeness every single day. Two healthy partners do not ask “What am I getting out of this relationship?” but instead are asking, “What am I putting into this relationship?” in order to reinforce our closeness. Laughter is probably one of the top three ways to create closeness. Laughter is a powerful human emotion that diminishes stress and paves the wave for a more enjoyable relationship. So smile regularly and laugh with each other to enhance your cohesion.
5. CONFESSION = APOLOGIZING and FORGIVING
The Bible has nearly 125 references to the importance of forgiveness for interpersonal relationships. At times, both of you will hurt and disappoint each other. Unintentionally or intentionally, when a mistake is made be quick to apologize and forgive because forgiveness is the “glue” for restoring what was broken. Apologize with written notes at times as well as verbal apologies. Apologizing and forgiving doesn’t erase the past, but it does diminish resentment to enhance the future.
6. COMMITMENT: GROWTH, TIME, and NO COMPLACENCY
Have a commitment to continually grow by becoming a better partner every day in every way. Couples that struggle usually have at least one spouse who has little desire to improve year after year. As a partner, strongly seek to strengthen your spousal assets while at the same time working on your deficits.
Complacency, taking your spouse and marriage for granted, is the dreaded disease for every couple. It is an insidious disease that often leads to an emotional divorce if not an eventual actual divorce. To overcome complacency, daily remind yourself to be a boyfriend or girlfriend to your spouse. When you were dating you did everything possible to win your future spouse’s heart — never stop focusing on that essential marital goal!
Finally, commitment is not just about spousal growth and overcoming complacency but also helping your partner feel like the most important person in your life. The dominant desire in almost everyone is to feel loved. The two best synonyms for “love” are “time” and “value.” Planning for meaningful time together is one of the best ways to truly value each other. In fact, happy couples don’t let their time together happen by chance but consciously plan for oneness time each day, week, and month.
Be a living example of Godliness through your words and actions. View regular worship together as a top priority in your faith walk. Worshiping God reminds the two of you to “walk the walk” not just “talk the talk” about living for almighty God. At a minimum, pray with each other at mealtimes. Hopefully, you will also pray with one another almost daily thanking God for numerous blessings, interceding for others, praying for our leaders, and offering petitions for family and friends.
This week, discuss with your spouse what two “Cs” need the most improvement in your marriage. Avoid just complaining by suggesting one or two solutions that would make a significant difference in each “C” area.
Dr. Randy Schroeder is a marriage expert, parenting specialist, pastor, speaker, author and retired professor, educator and athletic coach. He’s spoken to numerous church groups, conferences, and businesses, providing practical tips and inspiration on marriage, parenting and various life challenges. He’s counseled over 1,500 couples and thousands of parents and families. Dr. Schroeder and his wife, Ginny, have been happily married for over forty years and have two married sons and six grandchildren. Dr. Schroeder and his family live in the Indianapolis area. To learn more about Dr. Schroeder and his practical wisdom, visit DrRandySchroeder.com.