My mother shared some invaluable marriage advice with me when I was younger. Though she shared this with me in the context of marriage, this advice certainly applies to any committed relationship. She told me that marriage is a living being in and of itself. Marriage has to be nourished in four ways: physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. If one of any of those is lacking, the marriage will be suffering. Here’s what she shared with me:
You and your spouse don’t have to believe in the exact same things in the exact same ways, but you do have to agree on certain principles and morals. Ways to act within society and how to raise your kids are the foundation of your relationship. Having the same religious beliefs can help, but I have seen many marriages be spiritually strong when they believe in separate organized religions.
A husband and wife should be able to mentally stimulate each other, have respectful (even heated) debates about what they believe and why, and challenge each other to maintain mental strength.
Everyone is different, so everyone will feel nourished emotionally in different ways. The key is to find out what helps you emotionally connect with your spouse, and always remember to do those things. Some people need a listening ear, others flowers, and others feel emotionally cared for when the other partner helps with housework or the kids.
My mother told me sex is a key part to marriage. Whatever your preferences are, all marriage partners need that escape from work, extended family, THE KIDS… sex provides that sacred outlet. Feeling this physical connection with your spouse even crosses over into the “Emotional Nourishment” component of marriage.