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As I thought of New Years resolutions this year, I knew that I needed to put some attention towards my marriage.  We were blessed with our second baby six months ago and also have a happy busy two year old.  In our household this means lots of sleepless nights and taking “shifts” to care for the baby.  We are in a similar situation as many couples with young kids, we feel short on time and resources.

I know from my time as a therapist and from all the books I have read that a good marriage not only has a host of mental and physical health benefits for us as individuals, but also for our children.  John Gottman, my favorite marriage/family expert and researcher said it best, ““The greatest gift a couple can give their baby is a loving relationship, because that relationship nourishes Baby’s development.”  So even though some days we feel like we have nothing else to give at the end of the day, I knew this was an important goal.

While keeping in mind my previous tips for making new years resolutions that stick, as well as our time and energy constraints, my husband and I came up with a simple goal to fortify our marriage.  So far it has worked wonders for our ability to connect, even with the limited amount of time we have available.  Our goal is to spend 10 minutes each night talking after the babies have gone to bed.  We do it right after we put the kids down and this provides consistency.  Here are the rules for our 10 minutes.

  1.  Absolutely no screens, no phones, TV, electronics.  Those are set aside for our 10 minutes
  2. We go one at a time, talking about how our day went and how we are feeling.  The person not talking makes sure to listen intently, ask questions, and tries to validate feelings.
  3. We do not try to solve problems or big issues.  We steer clear of potential fights or disagreements, this time is just to connect.
  4. We make sure to connect by holding hands, looking at each other, or cuddling while talking.

John Gottman has done some of the most extensive marriage research available.  He knows better than probably anyone what factors will make a marriage last.  He says “It’s the small things, done often that make the difference”

So if your relationship needs a boost, try the 10 minutes! Let me know what other small things have worked for you in the comments.