For better or worse, the pre-bedtime habits you’ve formed over time have a huge impact on the wellbeing of your relationship. (For better = going to bed at the same time. For worse = self-grooming in bed. Just no.)
Below, relationship experts share nine bedtime rituals that could change your marriage for the better.
1. Escort your smartphone out of the bedroom.
A recent study out of Baylor University found that nearly half of us feel “phone snubbed” by our partners. Give your S.O. more respect than that: When it’s time to go to bed, turn off all devices and tuck your smartphone in for the night as well, said Aaron Anderson, a Denver, Colorado-based marriage and family therapist. (Use your phone as an alarm? Consider this your chance to buy a snazzy new alarm clark.)
“Smartphones distract you from each other and keep you from communicating when you go to sleep and when you wake up,” he said. “You can have distractions everywhere else in the house but not in the bedroom. When you’re in your bedroom together, be together.”
2. Create a before-bed ritual.
Time permitting, don’t rush to bed right after dinner, said Kristin Davin, a psychologist in New York City. Instead, unwind and slowly ease into the evening with a hot bath or shower and catch-up sesh with your spouse (a glass of wine is optional).
“These decompressing rituals send a signal to our body that it’s time to shut down,” she said. “Giving ourselves the time to shut down starts the process of getting a good night’s sleep. Whether couples do this together or separately, the benefits extend to both of them.”
3. Put your clothes away before climbing into bed.
Consider the bedroom your sanctuary as a couple and treat it accordingly. Attempt to make the bed when you get up (attempt being the operative word there), dress for bed in your fave PJs and put away the clothes you were wearing earlier. That last part is more important than you’d think, Anderson said.
“A couples’ bedroom should be a special place for them that is set apart from the rest of the house — and even the family,” he said. “If you’re just throwing your clothes on the end of the bed before you slip on your PJs then you’re not making it a special place for either of you.”
4. Try to go to bed at the same time.
If your schedules synch up, make it a habit to go to bed at or around the same time, said Jeannie Ingram, a couples therapist in Nashville, Tennessee.
“Often couples fall into patterns of going to bed at separate times, sometimes because of TV or the Internet,” she said. “But this may be an unconscious way of avoiding intimacy. The longer this pattern of avoidance continues, the more damaging it becomes to the relationship.”
5. Cuddle and kiss before drifting off.
Even if you’re too tired for sex, make an effort to touch, spoon or kiss your spouse when you hit the sheets, Ingram advised. (And when Ingram says kiss, she means kiss –– not a half-hearted, first date-esque peck on the cheek, but a genuine, all-in kiss.)
“A long, romantic kiss can release the hormones that give you both the feeling of wanting more,” she said.
6. Consider moving the TV out of your bedroom.
This may sound like sacrilege if you grew up dozing off to the sounds of David Letterman and the late night news, but moving the TV out of your adult bedroom will do wonders for your marriage, Chelli Pumphrey, a counselor based in Denver, Colorado, told HuffPost.
“Make TV and electronics a bedroom taboo,” she said. “It’s easy for couples to get into a routine of watching TV every night in bed, but it can serve as a distraction from true, intimate connection.”
7. Don’t get too relaxed around your spouse.
Obviously, it’s OK to pass gas in front of your spouse. You’re human! But if you didn’t let it rip with your spouse when you were dating, don’t do it excessively now that you’re sharing a bed, Anderson advised.
“The bedroom is a romantic, private space,” he said. “Don’t ruin it for your spouse by passing gas where you sleep and make love.”
8. Tuck the kids in at night into their own beds.
Inviting the kids into your bed at night could affect your ability to reconnect as a couple and have a negative impact on the kids, Davin said.
“There are boundary issues,” she said. “Teaching children that parents need their time alone is critical.”
9. Before falling asleep, say “I love you.”
You could count off all the groceries you need to get before bed or rant about your day, but you’d be missing out on a great opportunity to connect and end the night on a sweet note, said Marcia Sirota, a psychiatrist and the author of Women Decoded: The Secret Strategy for Relationship Success.
“Go to bed every night reminding your partner that you’re with them because you really want to be with them,” she said. “Saying ‘I love you’ will demonstrate that you’re happy with them and that you want to continue being married to them.”
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