We just celebrated our 41st anniversary this past Sunday, December 29. Even after all these years, there is a habit we've been practicing to keep our marriage fresh and satisfying. Daily. In the morning. On our living room couch. We consider it crucial to our connection, communication and sense of marriage purpose.
Don't get us wrong, we've messed up quite often the past four decades, but doing this habit daily since March, 1990 has been a game-changer for us.
Are you wondering what it is?
The daily game-changer habit is starting our day with a brief tool we've called the RINGS Chat, an acrostic that has helped us and thousands of couples get and stay in sync in five significant areas.
R is for "Real". How we're really feeling. Sometimes it's positive, sometimes it's negative, and sometimes it's a bit of both. The key is to hear from each other on how certain things are affecting us. If one of us is weary and discouraged, it's an opportunity for the other to be supportive and encouraging. Feelings matter, and we never try to talk the other one out of what he or she is really feeling.
I is for "Information/Intentions". This is the area of plans, tasks and logistics on our immediate horizons. Yes, we have calendars that we can review, but actually discussing our plans has created better coordination and synergy for us. Even though plans can change midstream at times, we are better off starting out our days on the same page.
N is for "Needs". "What do you need from me today?" - what a magical question! It gives us an opportunity to express our own needs for assistance as well as our readiness to help the other. We've found that it works well to ask this question multiple times a day. And to be ready to meet the need, if possible.
G is for "Grateful". Research is pretty overwhelming on the outcome that gratitude builds happiness and health. When this is applied to a marriage relationship, couples end up at a much different (and more positive) place than when never expressing appreciation. Interesting that we never seem to run out of things to be grateful for!
S is for "Someday". As in "Someday I wish . . . we could travel to a foreign country together OR remodel our kitchen OR do the 23 and me together." Dreams and wishes are a potent part of a satisfying marriage journey. We usually have a "big" someday and several "smaller" somedays we're looking forward to. Like traveling to Costa Rica (big) recently or watching a highly rated movie together (smaller). We recently watched Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood about Mr. Rogers and thoroughly enjoyed it!
We wrap up with praying together as a daily part of this habit. God knows we need His help every day! Couples who pray together daily have less than a .1% marriage failure rate. To put it positively, their success rate is better than 99.9%!
So, to all of our couple friends, we encourage you to join us in doing it, or keep doing it daily. "It" truly is a marriage game-changer!
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.