If You’re Not Building, You’re Tearing Down

Building or Tearing Down

Relationships are never in neutral mode.

Everything that each one of you does in your marriage is either building it up or tearing it down. Every action, every day counts. It’s not just what you do on anniversaries or other special occasions that affects the quality of your relationship. It’s what happens when you’re rushing around in the morning, unwinding at the end of the day or in any of those easy-to-overlook moments that have more meaning than we realize.

You can use those moments for some on-the-spot nurturing of your relationship. These ideas don’t take much time, but they have a big impact.

  • Greet your husband warmly when you see each other after work.
  • Don’t forget a quick peck when you say goodbye.
  • Make a big deal out of it when he tells you about some good news from his job.
  • Put down your phone when the two of you are talking.
  • Notice how he contributes to your relationship or to your family and compliment him on it.

Behaviors like these strengthen your bond. But when you don’t practice them, it’s hardly a “no harm, no foul situation” — you’re undermining your relationship through neglect.

And then there are the active behaviors that damage your relationship. Even if they happen in passing, they set dangerous patterns.

  • Rolling your eyes or showing contempt in other ways.
  • Failing to show the same courtesies you’d practice with a friend.
  • Saying something shaming about him (even if you’re “teasing”), especially while the two of you are around friends or family.
  • Micro-managing the household tasks he does.
  • Ignoring him when he seeks your attention because you’re busy with work or the kids.

This week, pay attention to how you and your husband interact every day and how your behaviors might affect the long-term health of your relationship. Any positive changes you can make, no matter how small, can make a real difference as they start to add up. You can also find more practical strategies for keeping your marriage thriving even when you’re both stressed and busy in my book Strong Women, Strong Love.