It happens to the best of couples—after being together for several years, or even decades, we tend to neglect the small, but super important, aspects of our relationship that keeps it strong—like our morning habits. Experts agree that it’s the little things in marriage that often times have the biggest impact over a period of time. “When the little things happen often, it shows that the person is thinking about the other person often which translates into they care about me, I am important to them,’ rather than one big gift or act of love that happens less frequent,” explains Dawn Michael, Ph.D., clinical sexologist, relationship expert and author.
To be fair, most of us work demanding jobs and have extracurricular responsibilities or hobbies that make it so we don’t see much of our spouse. In fact, many of us only communicate with our spouse at the tail end of a long day—or even just as we’re getting into bed. That’s why the mornings are the perfect opportunity to touch base and strengthen the bond we share with our partner.
Here, experts reveal some of the morning habits that help strengthen a marriage from the inside out.
Wake up together.
Although it’s not realistic that you and your spouse will simultaneously open your eyes and begin your day at the same time each and every day, you can’t make a point to by synchronizing your alarms. “This will help ensure you get to spend at least a few minutes of quality time together before your get-ready routine begin,” says Ili Rivera Walter, PhD, licensed marriage and family therapist, and professor of marriage and family therapy. “Share gratitude, discuss what’s on your mind for the day, ask for help with daily tasks, offer a compliment, or simply hold hands in silence.” As an added bonus, this kind of bonding first thing in the morning can help mitigate any tensions or frustrations that should arise throughout your day, she adds.
If you have even 5 or 10 minutes to spare, embrace your partner physically before jumping out of bed to hit the shower. “Cuddling in the morning is a great way to start the day and feel close to your spouse, especially if it is cold outside the sheets,” says Dr. Michael. “When couples get in the morning habit of cuddling, instead of jumping out of bed and doing something else or reaching for their phone, it promotes a feeling of togetherness first thing in the morning.”
Do an act of service.
Even something as small as pouring your partner a cup of coffee can go a long way in strengthening the bond you share. Other morning habits and small acts of service include preparing breakfast, packing lunch, dividing tasks related to getting children ready for school, or taking over a partner’s typical tasks when they are running late, notes Rivera. “Typically in a marriage, there is one morning person, and one night person,” she says. “The night person can choose to complete a few typical morning tasks in the evening, to make quality couple time possible the next morning.”
Say “good morning”.
Even on the busiest, most-rushed mornings, you still have time to make eye contact with your partner and wish them a good morning. “Over time, it’s common for spouses to take each other for granted and disregard one another during hectic morning hours,” says Rivera. “When you lovingly greet your partner instead, you communicate, ‘I care about you.’”
Talk during your commute.
Didn’t have time to touch base before you left the house? Give your partner a call or text with him or her on your commute. “Try to keep the conversation focused on fun, or interesting topics that will allow you to connect as human beings rather than as parents, or roommates,” suggests Rivera. Send an article link you found interesting, or perhaps a sexy text to set the tone for your evening. If you’re able to commute together, even better!
Sometimes morning habits are simply not possible for couples—and that’s OK. “I would prefer a couple connect at any point during the day than not connect at all,” says Anita Chlipala, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple's Guide to Lasting Love. She suggests that couples to have conversations with each other about what gets in the way of connecting to ensure that they can mend whatever isn’t working for them.