Part I of this article explored some of the challenges that spouses face in committing to quality time together. Part II offers a few simple techniques that can be incorporated into exchanges with our spouses to deepen respect, appreciation and love.
1) Look at your spouse in the eyes (when talking, listening, whenever).
This small step can have a phenomenal effect on increasing communication, intimacy, respect and appreciation. You begin to “see” your spouse again.
2) Listen to your spouse talk—without interrupting.
This act shows your mate that what he or she has to say is important enough for you to attentively absorb and consider before you make your comment. Consider not commenting right away—just listen. Mutual respect, patience and humility can be developed from this seemingly small act.
3) Affectionately touch your spouse daily.
A great body of research has shown how physical contact has dramatic effects on physical and psychological health. A simple touch on the shoulder, pat on the back or hug can speak volumes. Through touch, one can create safety, encouragement, care and connectedness.
4) Say one thing positive daily to your mate.
We are often quick to notice and point out what we feel is not working or wrong about our mates. Instead, commit to say one thing positive to your spouse every day. It can be simple: “Thanks for making dinner” or “I appreciate that you covered my service for me” or “I’m glad I married you.”
Also make a point to say positive things about your mate—to your children, friends and others.
5) Ask about your spouse and don’t discuss you.
Have a conversation with your spouse that only focuses on his or her interests, needs or concerns. Listen with genuine interest and ask questions to understand, not fix or judge. Ask if he or she wants feedback or just wants you to listen. Help problem solve, if requested or necessary.
6) Let your partner make the decision.
In a situation where you are attached to your point of view, just say “ Yes” or “OK” to your spouse’s view or decision. Even if it is not your view or your way of doing things. Even if you really think it may not work . Even if you think you are right and he or she is wrong . Just say “ Yes” and see what happens. No matter what happens, keep your heart open and stay open to learn from the experience. You may gain important insights about your spouse and about yourself.
8) Pray for your spouse.
Commit to pray daily for your spouse. Prayer is a very potent force and prayers of the Vaisnavas can move mountains. Earnestly pray for Krsna to shape you, your spouse, and your marriage according to His will. Krsna is ever-willing to assist us in coming closer to Him.
Following these few steps are a good start to making TIME and deepening your connection with your mate. Connect with others who will support you and your spouse to act on your goals. Practice these steps not only with your spouse but with your children, family and friends. The more you practice, the more these efforts will become your automatic patterns. The more we express the qualities of mutual respect and appreciation in our homes and communities, the more we can extend those same qualities to those in the larger world community that Srila Prabhupada has commissioned us to serve.
(For further reading, Marriage Fitness by Mort Fertel offers many simple and practical relationship-building activities).
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Cintamani devi dasi has a Ph.D. in developmental psychology and is a clinical supervisor for a large human services agency. She is a member of Grihastha Vision Team and is a marriage and family educator. She resides in Gita Nagari Dhama with her husband and two daughters.