When you say your vows, the dating shouldn't stop. Sometimes we get lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and pressure, forgetting about cherished "couple time." Make a date with your husband and put it on your appointment calendar. Treat it with the same respect as any other important appointment -- don't cancel it.
Marriage doesn't replace personal growth. In fact, it should enhance it. Maintain your own interests and don't be afraid to pursue activities without your spouse from time to time. Keep yourself balanced between being your own person and being a great partner.
Your ego can get in the way of a successful marriage and meaningful communication. Even if you disagree with your spouse about a specific issue, communicate with respect, listen with an open mind and be prepared to compromise. If you feel yourself getting angry and unable to communicate effectively, take a short break to calm down and gather your thoughts and emotions. You don't ever want to say something you'll regret.
Are you and your husband always arguing? Identify the true stressors in your relationship. Maybe it's not the fact that he watches football all day on Sunday that's bothering you, but rather your accumulating debt or financial concerns. "Aim your guns in the right place," Dr Phil advises. "Once you have identified the issues, work together to find viable solutions."
Before you dub your relationship as boring and beyond repair, realize that you may just be in a rut. If you and your spouse are always doing the same thing, day after day and week after week, mix things up a bit. Sign up for a class together, explore new attractions, restaurants and venues, and try something new in the bedroom.
Couples that drift apart often don't spend enough time together. If you work long hours, you may just come home, eat dinner, relax a bit, then head to bed. But believe it or not, you can find more time to spend with your partner. Identify your timewasters that take you away from your spouse. One of the biggest issues can be mindless computer time, where you just surf the web. Turn off your computer, TV and cell phone in the evening and learn how to enjoy each other's company again.
Kids and parents alike are overscheduled and overbooked these days. If you find there are truly not enough hours in the day to reconnect with your spouse, then you have to do something about it. Learn how to say "no." You don't have to volunteer for every cause, sign your kids up for every activity and attend every neighborhood function. Figure out the events and activities that are important to you and concentrate on those, freeing up extra time for both you and your spouse.
Tina B. Tessina, PhD, (aka "Dr Romance") psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage (Adams Media) offers three more ways to revamp your marriage.
Talk about what's bothering you in a rational way. Ask clearly for what you want, and let your partner know why it's important to you. If you can't find a way to agree, go for a counseling session. Resentment will destroy your marriage -- for the price of one session, before the problem gets too large, you can save it.
Let your partner know you appreciate what he or she does, personality traits (i.e., his sense of humor, her generosity, his practicality, her hard work) and companionship. The more you praise what you like, the more you'll get of it. We all want to be appreciated. Celebration + appreciation = motivation.
Regard your face-to-face time as sacred (it is -- it will bless your marriage). Take time to listen to each other. Touch as often as possible. Put your hand on your spouse's leg while driving; give him or her a little squeeze now and then, hug and kiss each other. Create a cuddling space -- in front of the television, on the porch swing, in your bedroom -- and use it.
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