When you’re married with kids and you have a thriving career, the first thing that slips away in your daily life is “you time.” The second thing? “You and him” time.
The good news: it doesn’t take much to get the latter back on track. If you believe the top relationship experts (and you should!), it’s the little stuff you do on a day-to-day basis that can really mean the difference between a happy marriage and a hard marriage. So try these small, totally doable actions, and you’ll find that they have maximum impact on your collective happiness.
1. Tell Him He’s Great In Bed
If you don’t ever say this, do it today. “Your partner wants to be the best you ever had,” says April Masini, a relationship and etiquette expert and author. “So make sure he knows he is. It’s easy to forget to do this. Make a conscious effort to let him know he’s a total stud.”
2. Support His Friendships
“Men tend to give up their man friends when they get married, and that’s a shame” says Karen Jones, relationship expert and founder of The Heart Matters. “One thing you can do to be a better wife is encourage him to hang out with other men. There’s something they get from each other that they can’t get from women. It’s more carefree, less responsibility, and a great boost in their tanks. And when they do get that boost, they tend to use it to make their wives happier. It’s such a great deal!”
3. Put Your Phone Away
Even if it’s just for a little bit. “When your partner has something they want to talk about, put down your phone,” recommends Kelsey Matheson, a life coach. “It’s so disrespectful to be checking your phone while someone is trying to talk to you. Give your partner your full attention. He will feel the difference it makes and will automatically feel more connected and more appreciated. With your undivided attention on him, you may even learn something new about your partner.”
4. Talk Him Up
“Your man needs to feel admired, adored, and respected,” explains Caroline Madden, Ph.D., an author and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Burbank, CA. “Make a conscious effort to show him that you appreciate him. An effective way to do this is to allow him to overhear you talking to someone else about how much you love him and that you feel lucky to be his wife.”
5. Give Him A Little Space
“As women, we like to talk, but men aren’t usually as verbal,” points out Dr. Venessa Marie Perry, founder and Chief Relationship Strategist at The Love Write. “So when he comes home from work after a long day, we expect to hear all about his day. Men want to be able to decompress from the day before they start engaging. Allow him to start the conversation on his own. Let him breathe.”
6. Support His Goals
“If he is wanting to begin a new business, start a new hobby, try a new fitness regimen, encourage him to reach what he is wanting to achieve,” says Patricia Bubash, a Licensed Professional Counselor. “In other words, be his cheerleader.”
7. Say “Yes”
Particularly if it’s to something you’d normally say “no” to. “After the courting period, couples often become more honest and decline to participate in potentially fun activities together,” notes Jared Heathman, MD, a Houston-based psychiatrist. “Start saying yes more often and participate in new hobbies as a couple.”
8. Take A Beat Before Criticizing
It would be unrealistic to say you should never criticize your husband, but making sure it’s really necessary beforehand can minimize how critical you’re being of him.
“It is easy to fall into the pattern of complaining to your partner when they don’t follow through with things or don’t do things the way that you want to,” says Rhonda Milrad, LCSW and founder of Relationup. “Be mindful of when you want to criticize and ask yourself if it is really necessary to say something. If it is, then go ahead. But if it isn’t, bite your tongue and refrain from doing it. Less criticism will result in your partner feeling less attacked, less controlled, more appreciated, and consequently, more eager to step up and help out.”
9. Wake Up Before He Does
Especially if you are a stay-at-home mom or work from home. “Brew the coffee. Join him in the shower,” Madden suggests.
Why? “Because even the most enlightened, loving man becomes resentful of leaving in the morning to go to work while his wife is sleeping in.”
10. Choose “Fight” When It Comes to “Fight or Flight”
“Arguments are often good icebreakers to get more positive communication flowing with your spouse,” explains Nicole Merritt, relationship expert and founder of jthreeNMe. “Don’t avoid confrontation. Take it on, but do so as respectfully and as calmly as possible. Think of your fighting as a healthy alternative to blatant avoidance and passive aggressiveness.”
11. Encourage Him to Be Healthy
Without forcing it, of course. “Helping him to have a healthy lifestyle is a benefit to you, as a couple,” Bubash notes. “If you are the main cook, arrange for healthy meals. Take up walking together, or head to the gym. I have observed many couples where one has decided to have a healthy lifestyle, the other doesn’t, and in retirement years, resentment exists as one becomes the caregiver. Work together on this.” That way, you’ll hopefully have many more years together to enjoy each other’s company in good health.
12. Keep His Secrets
“When told something in confidence by your partner, do not share the information with anyone— even your best friend,” says Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW. Keep this in mind no matter how tempting or relevant to your conversation it is. “It is difficult to be vulnerable and share problems with others. When your husband is able to open up to you, it is important to not break his trust.”
13. Initiate Sex
Particularly if you don’t usually. “Men are often the initiators and like when women take control in the bedroom,” notes Dr. Perry. “Surprise him by showing him what you’ve got in the bedroom. It’ll keep him running home for more.”
14. Do A Gut Check Before You Say Something Harsh
“After being together for awhile, it is natural to speak more comfortably with each other,” says Dr. Heathman. “Comfortable sounds nice, but it can also lead to speaking bluntly instead of politely.” While it’s great to be able to “get real” with your husband about something, it’s also important not to be negative all the time.
15. Cook Dinner
There’s no need to make a huge meal every night if cooking isn’t your thing, but if you want to do something nice for your husband, food is usually a safe bet. “Men usually prefer a home-cooked meal,” says Dr. Perry. “Have dinner waiting to set the stage for a relaxing evening.” So much better than takeout.