I like this marriage list a lot. It summarizes many of the basic “to-dos” of marriage. It was written by Michelle Weiner-Davis of “Divorce Busting” fame. [See “10 Marriage New Year’s Resolutions for 2011” though this is good advice for anytime.]
1) Make relationship goal-setting a priority- before weight loss or cutting back on drinking or smoking.
Since close to one out of every two first marriages end in divorce- and generally within 4 to 7 years- with extraordinarily detrimental effects to our health, we should switch our focus from personal to relationship improvement. The health benefits of marital fitness are monumental! [Note: the 1/2 first marriage divorce stat is not a Canadian reality. Canadian stats are about 38%.]
2. Have several date nights a month.
Don’t justify a lack of regular quality couples time for any reason, including the kids. The best thing you can do for your children is put your marriage first. You don’t have to spend a lot of money or do something extravagant. You just have to plan alone time that is uninterrupted.
3. Spend at least ten minutes every day checking in with each other.
Don’t let a day pass without finding out how your spouse is doing. It’s like putting blood in the blood bank. When the going gets tough, you will be able to draw on your savings! And when you ask how your partner is doing, truly listen to his or her response. Be present. Don’t multitask or it won’t count!
4. Tell your spouse three things you appreciate about him or her EVERY DAY.
Focus on what works in your relationship and what your spouse does well. What you focus on expands. And don’t just notice the positive things, tell your spouse about your gratitude!
5. Don’t go to sleep angry.
Although this is not always easy, especially when you think you’re right, declaring a moratorium before you start sawing zzzz’s will make for a fresh start in the morning. And by the way, you can still be somewhat angry and follow this advice anyway. It will begin to melt the ice.
6. Touch, flirt and have sex regularly.
Remember what your relationship was like in the beginning? If more couples pressed the reset button and pretended they just met, their marriage would continue to sizzle.
7. Brag about your spouse to others in his or her presence.
There’s a saying, “Let me see what I (you) say, so I know what I (you) think.” Speaking in glowing terms about your spouse in front of others feels like a public endorsement and that feels good.
8. Speak from the heart frequently.
Although one partner is usually more verbal than the other, regular discussions about personal/emotional issues makes people feel closer and more connected.
9. Learn how to fight fairly.
In all marriages, conflict in inevitable. However, how you fight can be the difference between lifelong relationship growth and divorce. Learn how to have constructive conversations about heated issues. Take a marriage seminar that focuses on fair fighting skills.
10. Don’t take yourselves too seriously. Don’t forget to laugh.
Remember how you used to laugh at each other’s jokes and life seemed to be more light-hearted? Don’t lose your sense of humor, even when it comes to problem-solving. Laughter is life’s and love’s best medicine.