One of my favorite things about being married is bedtime. I mean, I don’t think there’s anything better than snuggling up in my man’s arms and falling asleep. And, well, sometimes, not falling asleep for a little while. Wink, wink! Bedtime habits are some of the best habits to cultivate in any marriage whenever possible.
Bedtime Habits: Set a bedtime
Life can get pretty hectic. Am I right? Some seasons are more hectic than others. One way to combat a hectic life messing with your marriage is to work to set a common bedtime–or at least aim to go to bed at the same time.
At the beginning of our marriage, The Hunk was in graduate school, full-time ministry, and interning as a counselor. Sometimes, he had to stay up late to write papers–even pulling all-nighters. Some nights, we couldn’t go to bed at the same time. When it couldn’t happen, we still touched base before I went to sleep.
In general, having a shared ritual in a marriage improve a marriage relationship. Going to bed at the same time can be a simple way to incorporate a shared ritual which creates a sense of unity in a marriage. According to Dr. John Gottman, marriage research expert, shared rituals increase marriage satisfaction overall.
Bedtime Habits: Three Compliments
If we do a quick search engine search, we’ll see a myriad of answers to the question, “How many compliments does it take to undo an insult?” In my quick search, I saw anything from 60 to a million. I’m no expert, but I’m not sure insults can ever be undone. I like to compare this to trying to put all the toothpaste back into the tube. It’s difficult if not impossible!
So, whether your day was spent together all day or you were apart all day working, volunteering, having social engagements, and general busyness, aim to go to bed at the same time. And as part of your bedtime ritual, give each other three compliments. If it has to be forced at first, that’s fine. After practice, it should become second nature.
Focus on complimenting one another’s accomplishments, appearance, and intellect. Maybe he rocked at hanging up that canvas for you. Tell him. Maybe she came up with an epic solution to the kitchen organization debacle of 2013. Tell her that you admire her skill.
Seal these compliments with a kiss. Or even more fun stuff.
Bedtime Habits: Debrief
If your life isn’t already crazy together, it will be. Before going to bed, go through a quick debrief. This debrief is clothing optional.
Take turns sharing a high and a low of the day, being sure to end with a high. “So, dear, what was your favorite part of today?” “My favorite part was when you came home so glad to see me! What was yours?” Complete the interchange. Then, discuss a low: “What was the low point of your day?” “I was really sad to learn that my friend’s husband died in an unexpected car accident. She’s my age with two kids!” “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that…” And this gives a good opportunity to bond and share with one another, offering comfort or a listening ear. Then, complete the cycle and finish up with another high. “Okay, what was another part of the day you enjoyed?” “I enjoyed my dinner with Tami. She is a great friend and mentor.”
What’s great about the nightly debrief, according to Drs. Emerson and Sarah Eggerichs, is that it gives a chance for the two of you to learn more about one another–the things our beloved likes to do or experience and what makes life difficult or a challenge.
Bedtime is the best time. Make it count with your spouse!
One thing I love about marriage is that my man compliments me daily. And lavishly. The other morning, I mentioned the concept of daily compliments to him–specifically, the role of complimenting one another in marriage. There are so many reasons daily compliments will change any marriage for the good.
Marriage Hack: Daily Compliments
Maybe you read my love story. On our first date, The Hunk called me beautiful. I was taken aback–mostly because I thought he was crazy to think that. He still thinks that. And I still think he’s crazy. But over the years, he’s continued to regularly compliment me. His language toward me is full of compliments. And the compliments go both ways.
I don’t think our marriage would be nearly as enjoyable if we didn’t deliver daily compliments to one another. Mark Merrill defines five ways to compliment your spouse. Here’s his list and basic descriptions with examples from his post.
- People Skills: Compliment how they treat a stranger.
This type of compliment starts with observing your spouse. Note when they show uncommon kindness, generosity, chivalry, courtesy, or patience with someone. Let them know what and why you admire that. Say something like, “I really admire how kind you were to people in that crazy crowded store.”
- Parenting Skills: Compliment the way they handle your kids.
Your spouse is more aware of their parenting mistakes than their parenting strengths. You can help them see what a difference they make in your kids’ lives. Just yesterday, I texted my wife, “Susan, I just heard you talking with Megan and Emily, and you really coached them well on that issue. Great job!”
- Get ‘er Done Skills: Compliment their ability at a task.
It’s important to let your spouse know that you admire their abilities, but don’t just compliment an extraordinary skill. Let them know you appreciate all the things they do by saying, “Thanks for cleaning the kitchen…I was tired and I really appreciated you doing that.” Don’t just treat it like it’s just their job…you should still compliment them.
- Challenges: Compliment their handling of a difficult situation. If you see your spouse navigate a hard situation well, let them know that you noticed. Tell your spouse that you see how they help your marriage and family. Say something like, “I know the last few days were unexpectedly difficult, but we couldn’t have made it through without your steady hand. Thanks for keeping us calm.”
- Appearance or Style: Compliment the impression they make on you. If it’s been a long time since you’ve complimented your spouse, unprompted, about their appearance, do it this week. To be most effective, compliment how your spouse improves what they wear, not vice versa. I sometimes say to my wife, “Susan, you make that dress look really good!”
Daily Compliments: When and How?
Getting started on your daily compliments is simple, but not necessarily easy. You may find that you are not naturally good at delivering compliments. Perhaps you have a career in evaluating, problem-solving, or deciphering problems. As a teacher, I definitely have an affinity toward finding problems and pointing them out. I am not naturally bent toward looking for specific positive aspects of things or people. But marriage has helped me work toward improving that part of me. If you’re like me, you will have to start out making a daily compliment more intentionally. And that’s okay.
First, look for something you admire about your husband or wife. Be sure not to choose a compliment that is actually pointed; for instance, if the house is a mess when you come home to your husband or wife, don’t say something like, “You’re really good at chilling on that couch.” That is not a compliment. Instead, consider looking through the list above and gather inspiration from that list to start your compliments.
Then, just say it. Whenever. Wherever. In front of people. In private. Before heading off to work. As soon as you greet another after work. During dinner. In the car on the way to a social gathering. There is no wrong time to give your husband or wife a compliment.
But you may be asking yourself: Will my husband/wife reject my compliments? It’s a valid concern. Sometimes, compliments aren’t well received. There are a few reasons this might be the case. Firstly, words of affirmation may not be your lovely spouse’s love language. It may not seem to make a huge difference in your relationship if this is the case. Either way, though, a lack of compliments can give the appearance of a lack of affection for your love. So push through if your compliments seem ineffective. I can tell you from experience that consistent compliments create a better marital atmosphere.
Over time, work your way up to delivering more daily compliments every day until it is second nature to compliment your husband or wife.
Daily Compliments: The Benefits
There are numerous benefits to delivering daily compliments. I’m speaking only from experience, here, but I’ve gathered a few benefits I’ve found in my marriage that are a partial or a direct result of The Hunk’s daily compliment habit.
- Daily compliments reinforce trust. I trust my man more because he regularly shares his appreciation for me–what I bring to the relationship, my intellect, and his attraction to me. There are plenty of ways to develop trust between two people, but compliments are definitely one way The Hunk has made it easier for me to trust him. Conversely, The Hunk feels he can trust me with his feelings, internal struggles, and even joys because he knows that I have favorable thoughts toward him.
- Daily compliments reinforce genuine love. He loves me. One way he expresses his love for me is by complimenting me. I feel cherished, wanted, and–well, honestly–loved when I’m never searching for his general feelings for me. They are positive. And being in love with a man who finds me generally a good, attractive, intelligent woman makes me feel loved. Conversely, The Hunk feels loved and respected because he knows I have expressed love toward him as well.
- Daily compliments build up your spouse. I’ve seen The Hunk’s entire countenance change when I’ve complimented him. And, in return, his compliments have improved my self-esteem. I think it’d be tough to argue against the building up of one another in a marriage. The healthier a person’s view of himself or herself, the better his or her relationships are in the long run, right? Makes sense to me.
Wow! I didn’t think I’d have this much to say about daily compliments. Go out there and compliment your loved ones–especially your forever love.
The Hunk and I meet with couples before they get married often–especially when he’s officiating their wedding or doing pre-marital mentoring. I love doing this! Throughout the meetings, in addition to contributing to skills related to conflict resolution and other key marriage issues, I drop in a little marriage hack we’ve used to make the practical elements of marriage go more smoothly–causing less unnecessary friction. And I want to share a marriage hack or two here and there for you to employ in your own marriage. I’ve already shared a few other hacks and if you missed it, you’ll want to check it out, for sure! Be on the lookout for future marriage hacks to help you simplify and/or make your marriage run more smoothly. Today, I’d like to share one simple rule to improve your relationships: fight fairly.
Marriage Hack: Fight Fairly
I’d like to tell you that you will never ever disagree with your spouse once you are married. But, as my engaged baby sis said so perfectly: We’re going to live together; we’ll probably get on each other’s nerves.
And it’s true. You’ll probably annoy one another from time to time. That’s a given. However, it is possible to be married and use conflict to benefit your marriage and cause far less stress as you live your lives together.
Recently, I read a book about this: The Argument-Free Marriage, by Fawn Weaver. What I noticed is that she didn’t title her book The Conflict-Free Marriage. Conflict is a given for as long as we live on this earth and have our very own skin. We are imperfect. But we can adjust how we deal with friction–how we handle the conflict we experience in our relationships.
One such way is to fight fairly.
Marriage Hack How To: Fight Fairly
In the words of The Hunk: This is simple, but not easy. It takes practice, intentionality, and maturity. Here’s how it works:
- Both of you must agree that you will follow the fair fighting rules before there is another argument.
- Print out and review this list of fair fighting rules together. Talk about what they mean and practice some of them as you review them.
- Post the list of fair fighting rules on the fridge or in a place where you can refer to them regularly.
- Don’t break the rules. Agree ahead of time what will happen in an argument if someone breaks a rule. Will you point to the rule without words? What can either of you do if the the other breaks the rule without escalating the argument? Write that in at the bottom of the list.
The Hunk and I meet with couples before they get married often–especially when he’s officiating their wedding or doing pre-marital mentoring. I love doing this! Throughout the meetings, in addition to contributing to skills related to conflict resolution and other key marriage issues, I drop in a little marriage hack we’ve used to make the practical elements of marriage go more smoothly–causing fewer unnecessary friction. And I want to share a marriage hack or two here and there for you to employ in your own marriage. I’ve already shared a marriage hack for your schedules and one about budgeting and if you missed it, you’ll want to check it out, for sure! Be on the lookout for future marriage hacks to help you simplify and/or make your marriage run more smoothly. Today, I’d like to share how an allowance setup can help you simplify your married life.
Marriage Hack: Allowance
Here’s the thing: Even though a married couple is one in the eyes of God, a small amount of independence can really empower both the husband and the wife. For this reason, The Hunk and I set up an allowance system. We build this into our budget and we automate it (we love automating as much as possible).
We have a lot of financial goals. We want to be debt free except our mortgage. We want to travel every other year or so. Incidental spending can get in the way of these dreams. We’ve eaten out far fewer times since implementing this system, since our allowance pays for eating out, as well.
We can spend this money however we want. For instance, I subscribe to a t-shirt of the month club and use my allowance for that. The Hunk has gotten men’s Birchbox for a few months. These are things we would have to discuss with each other if we didn’t have our own allowance. Wallet helps us treat ourselves (say it like they do on Parks and Rec!) to things without cutting into our monthly budget, and derailing our path to financial freedom. This is a great way to control spending on hobbies or interests.
I’m sure there are a bunch of ways to set up an allowance system, but we use Google.
May I introduce you to Google Wallet?
Marriage Hack: How to
- Start by logging into your Google account.
- Then, go to wallet.google.com. Set-up should be pretty much simple. Much of Google is.
- The important part of this setup is that you’re going to want to request a Google Wallet card.
- Connect your Wallet to your checking account.
- Download the app at the App store or the Play store.
All of this is free. I love free; don’t you?
After receiving your card, go into your dashboard or app and set up your allowance–or repeating transfer. The Hunk and I have a flat amount transferred from our checking account on the first of every month. (Tomorrow’s allowance day!)
How much? Well, we started out at $60 each month, but have since adjusted. Go ahead and try an amount that sounds reasonable for the two of you. If, after a month or two, you realize that you need more, change it. If you find that you could spend less and end up saving more, decrease your allowance together.
You might set up your allowance so that it transfers on pay day or at the end of the month. All of this depends on how you budget. Talk with one another and agree on the best time of the month for your allowance to be transferred.
Here are a few things to know about how Google Wallet works:
Your wallet acts like a debit card–without any fees. You can’t use them at an ATM, but you can make purchases anywhere MasterCard is accepted.
If you are an Android user, you can use your Google Wallet to pay for in-app purchases; I do this when I purchase devotional collections from SheReadsTruth.
If your smartphone has NFC, you might couple the Google Wallet app with the Android Pay app and use your smartphone to pay for items where Android Pay is accepted. As of this writing, Android Pay is somewhat new. There are a lot of things you can do with Android Pay, as well.
The Hunk and I meet with couples before they get married often–especially when he’s officiating their wedding or doing pre-marital mentoring. I love doing this! Throughout the meetings, in addition to contributing to skills related to conflict resolution and other key marriage issues, I drop in a little marriage hack we’ve used to make the practical elements of marriage go more smoothly–causing fewer unnecessary friction. And I want to share a marriage hack or two here and there for you to employ in your own marriage. I’ve already shared a marriage hack for your schedules and if you missed it, you’ll want to check it out, for sure! Be on the lookout for future marriage hacks to help you simplify and/or make your marriage run more smoothly.
Marriage Hack: Budgeting
This marriage hack is perhaps the most challenging hack The Hunk and I do. Mostly because we’re lazy. But, on the real, this hack has helped is prevent countless frustrations and arguments and negative Nancy thoughts. I can’t think of many people who love talking money. I absolutely love talking about it. Budgets, plans, maximizing… I love talking about money plans.
The Hunk? No. He’s not a fan. He hadn’t had much experience with budgets before we got married but I was so house poor that I had to budget. Also, I had taken Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University Course so I had some really awesome methods developed in my single years. I brought that skill set to our marriage.
Remember that scheduling hack I told you about last time? One standing appointment we have every month is a budget meeting. We used to schedule ours on the first Tuesday of the month, but then our small group situation changed so we now try to have them on the first Thursday of every month. Now, I say “try.” Yes, this is where we fall short. Sometimes, we forget. Sometimes, we are just slackers. Sometimes, one of us is sick. We have skipped months from time to time. I don’t recommend it. I aim for perfection, for sure, but I fall short so often that I can’t let it get me down.
Anyway, during our monthly budget meetings we look at the month prior and plan for the month to come.
There are, however, some key background facts to this marriage hack. For instance, I always recommend one central bank account from which all basic spending is taken. One account for the electric bill, the rent/mortgage, grocery, allowance, and all joint expenses. This is one element of oneness that I really believe helps two people become one in their heart. Because, as my Hunk says, our heart follows our money. This hack is set up for a married couple who has one central account for the joint expenses of life.
That said, The Hunk and I have set up autonomy within our budget so we can still spend some without discussion; we were 26 and 30 when we married; we have allowance. Don’t worry, that’s the next hack I’m discussing with you. Until then:
Marriage Hack: How to
You will need two computers: one for logging into your bank account and another for having your spreadsheet open. Our first step is to divvy up the jobs. One person needs to be the spreadsheet guru and the other needs to be the bank account filter.
Here’s a free spreadsheet based on what we use to have our meeting. If you have Google, feel free to make a copy (by clicking “File,” and then “Make a copy…”) and host this on Google for your budget meetings. If you don’t have Google or don’t want to host this on Google, feel free to export it as an Excel spreadsheet (by clicking “Download as…” and then “Microsoft Excel (.xlsx)”) and use locally. If you’re interested in more spreadsheets for tracking debt tracking and all that, let me know! I can totally share what I use to motivate me to pay off more debt!
Job descriptions for this Marriage Hack:
Spreadsheet guru: Places all the numbers in the lines appropriate. Inputs income as provided by the bank account filter.
Bank account filter: Interprets the expenses in income lines in the bank account online and speaks them to the spreadsheet guru for spreadsheet input.
So, here’s how our basic budget meetings go; you may start with this and find another similar method. But start somewhere. Don’t just spend without talking about it for years on end.
- I (the spreadsheet guru) open a Google Spreadsheet where we keep our yearly budget records.
- The Hunk (Bank account filter) opens our online bank statement for the month we’re meeting about.
- As The Hunk goes from the beginning of the month to the end of the month, I put in the amounts appropriate in the spreadsheet.
- We repeat this until every item from our month is put into the spreadsheet. I use this formula to add multiple items for categories such as “car fuel” or “grocery,” etc.: =##+## Each “##” is the amount called out. For those categories, I always type in the beginning of the sum in at the beginning of the meeting. Then, I just click in the white space at the top of the spreadsheet when that category comes up again and type, “+##” to add it to the line item.
- We discuss the overall success of our financial month.
- We plan ways to make our finances more successful in the next month–maybe eating out less, spending less on groceries, putting more in savings, cutting back on frivolous things, etc.
The learning key here is that the line items will become familiar to the two of you. For instance, we used to have a difficult time distinguishing between “care fuel” and “house gas” in our meetings. This was unnecessarily frustrating (a real debbie-downer) during the meetings and the Bank Account Filter took a few months to remember to distinguish between the two when calling out the types of expenses. The bank account filter must have the patience to learn what to really call out and be okay with interpreting the expenses more quickly as you practice each month.
Because I’m a major nerd, I’ve set up a quick video that describes how I interact with the spreadsheet during our budget meeting. I’d love it if you let me know if you have more questions!
The marriage hack why?
Why is this marriage hack so important? Well, as we’ve heard endlessly, finances can be the biggest of contributors to marriage frustrations. Having a set time each month were the two of you discuss how the spending is going will help the two of you open up your discussions about money, spending, and saving. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to look at cold, hard numbers to see where you’re winning and where you can improve. The facts are not always fun, but in the long run, this gets easier overall.