5 Ways to Be More Present in Your Marriage
You know the feeling where you’re talking to your spouse about his dream of opening a taco truck...and then all of a sudden you’re spacing out and mentally cataloging what you’re cooking for dinner this week...or thinking about the latest episode of The Bachelor? Yeah, turns out that makes your partner feel devalued, ignored and, most importantly, like you’re not really there. Here, five ways to make sure you’re present when he or she needs you most.
Repeat Back What the Other One Is Saying
“Uh huh,” “sure” and “right” may give the impression that you’re listening, but often they’re just placeholders when your brain is secretly elsewhere. Keep yourself in the moment by repeating back important things your spouse is saying. For instance: “I understand that you want to spend Christmas at your dad’s, and I’ll see what I can do to get off work,” or “That’s so funny that Whiskers chased a sock for 45 minutes.”
Go Phone-Free (Sometimes)
No, we’re not going to tell you never to be on your phone around your spouse. (We are human, after all.) But do try to designate times or places where mindlessly scrolling through Instagram instead of paying attention to the person right in front of you isn’t allowed. The dinner table and the bedroom are good places to start.
Underbook Your Dates
When you have an evening to yourselves, it can be tempting to get a lot in: dinner, a movie and then a cameo at Brian and Stella’s party. But when you’re always worried about getting to the next thing on time, it can be hard to enjoy being in the moment. Keep dates to one or two activities, and give yourselves the time to just hang out together without stressing about logistics.
Banish the Silent Treatment
As a brilliant conversationalist, you can think of no worse punishment than denying your partner the pleasure of your voice. But when you give him the silent treatment—whether it’s over dirty towels on the floor or a mega fight about when you’re ready to have kids—you shut down the potential to work things out, essentially saying, “This isn’t important enough to talk about.” Keep the discussion going, preferably in a respectful and measured way. (Remember that thing about repeating back what they said?) And if you must take a breather, set a time to come back to the argument.
Stay Digitally Out of Touch
“Worst traffic, sat on the 405 for 20 minutes,” he texts. “Great meeting with my boss! I think I’m getting the Geller account!” you Gchat. And then you both get home...and have nothing left to tell each other. Resist the urge to hyper-communicate when you’re apart, and you’ll be more lively and engaged when you’re actually together. (Plus your data plan will thank you.)