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The romantic resolution I kept that transformed my marriage

Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW, is a clinical therapist, and the author of three books, among them, Love Lessons from Bad Breakups and The Complete Marriage Counsler. She gives love advice on programs including Today and HuffPost Live, conduct...

Women share the romantic turning points that changed their relationship

Many of us make resolutions: I will lose 10 pounds; I will start working out… But many of those resolutions go by the wayside. Here is what can happen when you make a romantic resolution — and keep it.

Don’t wait for hubby to create romantic moments

Eboni loved her husband and two sons, but like many women, longed for romance. The 38-year-old says, “I hoped each encounter with James would be something straight from the big screen — complete with “awwws” from an invisible audience.” Since James’ romantic gene was MIA, both husband and wife were left frustrated. It particularly irked Eboni that she and her husband were frequently working in separate rooms. “I wanted us to spend more time together.”

Two years ago, around the time of her 10th anniversary, she resolved to stop “waiting for him to get it” and to create her own romantic moments. Since Eboni needed her husband to accomplish this mission — she took her laptop and went into the room where he was working. “I got as close to him as I could without actually sitting on his lap, and continued my work.” After a few minutes he closed her laptop, looked his wife in the eyes and said, “I know what you’re trying to do… and I love it.” The two spent the next hour laughing and sharing time together.

More: The 5 most common relationship habits we fall into

Eboni shares, “This decision has made all the difference in the closeness of our relationship and the overall happiness in our marriage.”

If you wait for your husband to deliver your fantasy, you might wait a long time. The wait will create resentment — not a romance-builder. Reach out for what you want — your relationship will be better for it.

Instead of holding grudges, hold onto gratitude

It’s all too common to let the wonderful big and small marital moments slip by without cherishing them and to dwell on the things that make us angry or sad.

Last New Year’s Anna, then married four years, decided to reverse that dynamic. The 40-year-old shares, “I created a gratitude love jar. The purpose was and is for my husband and me to make notes about specific everyday things we love about each other and our lives together, and to drop the note in the jar. Once a month we tip open the jar and look at what we’ve written. It’s memories like, “I loved so much that Anna brought me home some cough syrup and made tea for me”; “It warmed my heart when Rich complimented how I look in my new dress” and “While we were drinking wine and chatting on the porch we witnessed the most magical sunset of our lives together.”

More: 24 Romantic resolutions our experts are making

Even if you and your mate don’t create a ‘gratitude love jar’, a deceptively simple way to revolutionize your marriage is to start noting the everyday romantic moments you are grateful for, and to share those moments on a regular basis. Such reminders of the quiet joys of your lives together can cement your bond. Anna says, “A year later the gratitude jar has really helped Rich and me appreciate the ways we add to one another’s lives, and to let the bad stuff go.”

Play together

When couples settle into the day-to-day busyness of life, alas a hugely important ingredient of a happy relationship often falls by the wayside — shared fun.

Five years ago Emily determined that she and her husband of six years had become way too serious. Emily, now 39, recalls, “The world then, as now, seemed dark and awful. Everything Josh and I did together were errands, favors for friends and family… We were too, well, too adult!”

More: What your emoji use says about your sex life

She vowed to bring playtime back to the marriage whether through pillow fights, sushi making or rolling in the leaves. She says, “Josh was extremely receptive to my suggestion. At least twice a month we do something together to shake up the routine and remind ourselves we’re not in the grave! Next week we’re taking an improv workshop.”

While you don’t need to become Amy Schumer and Chris Rock, you do need to keep “fun” in the routine. The couple that plays together stays.

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