Develop a Better and Healthier Marriage | Reader's Digest

Develop a Better and Healthier Marriage

33 ways to grow closer together in marriage.

from Stealth Health

7. Make a fun, flirty change to your appearance. Want to make him sit up and take notice? Color your hair, wear lipstick if you normally don’t, or wear a pretty nightie to bed instead of your flannel pajamas. Want her to suddenly get the urge to run her fingers over your chest? Try a sexy black shirt or unusually tight trousers. The simplest change in your appearance can show your partner you care enough to catch his/her eyes, helping rekindle the chemistry that brought you together in the first place.

8. Play the newlywed game. Do something for your partner that you did when you were newlyweds. Bake him a batch of homemade brownies. Send her flowers after a night of lovemaking. Tuck little notes into his briefcase or leave sexy messages on her voice mail.

9. Have a conversation about the big things in life. When you were courting, did you talk for hours about current events or the meaning of life? If all you seem to talk about now is the grocery list or how much to spend on a new sofa, reintroduce meaningful conversation into your relationship. Asking her about her day isn’t enough. Try this: One night while you’re in front of the TV or in the car, make a provocative (but not hurtful) remark about something your partner deeply cares about — the guy in the White House, a favorite sports team — something that will get his/her dander up. He’ll disagree, of course, which will get the ball rolling. Keep it rolling!

10. Develop a common interest. The couple that play together, stay together. To keep your relationship fresh and vibrant, think of an activity that both you and your partner enjoy, and do it together. The possibilities are endless: gardening, sports, attending classes or cultural events together, walking, hiking, working on home projects. How to get your partner to join you? Be sneaky. Say you need his/her help in the garden, want to do minor remodeling to the bathroom, that a friend just happened to give you two tickets to whatever. Chances are, he/she will have a wonderful time and want to do it again. In time, it may become a regular part of your life together.

11. Do service projects together. Giving to others moves you out of yourself and your own problems and supports a broader, more spiritual view of life. Again, try to pick a service or organization that appeals to you both, whether it’s a mentoring program for disadvantaged youth or working weekends in the local soup kitchen.

12. Rekindle your spirituality. If you’re both interested in spiritual or religious activities, try some religious study together. If you both pray, praying together can be extremely intimate. Same goes for meditation or other spiritual or religious rituals.

13. Get active together. Are you both a few pounds heavier than when you first met? Engaging in a physical activity that you both enjoy can be as good for your marriage as it is for your body, and can reinforce the fact that you’re a team of two. You needn’t run a marathon together (although training for one could provide a lot of couple time). How about tennis? Golf? Swimming? Even gardening can be a workout, if you’re landscaping the yard or tending a large flower or vegetable garden.

14. Set movie night once a month. All right, so he loves sci-fi and action, while you prefer romantic comedies. She is strictly chick-flick and you’re super hero. Doesn’t matter. To find common ground, select movies for the characters, not the genre. For example, in The English Patient, one gets espionage and adventure; the other gets a love story. In Jerry Maguire, there’s football for one, Tom Cruise for the other. And if he wants to have a John Wayne film festival, gently direct him toward shoot-’em-ups that appeal to women, such as The Last of the Mohicans, starring Daniel Day-Lewis.

15. Each morning, ask, “What’s on your agenda today?” Does he have a big meeting? Is she dreading a phone call to an important client? Is she having lunch with an old friend? Talking about the daily details of your lives is just as important as sharing hopes, dreams, and fears, so asking about those details is a great way to build understanding and rapport. And don’t forget to ask how that meeting, phone call, or lunch turned out. Your thoughtfulness will make your partner feel loved and cared for.