Develop a Better and Healthier Marriage
33 ways to grow closer together in marriage.
25. Pursue your own interests. Go ahead, take that writing class — or pursue any other interest you might have outside of those you share with your partner. It makes you more interesting to your partner and everyone else. Moreover, a little “me time” allows both you and your partner to grow as individuals and reduces the pressure on each of you to fill the other’s
26. Have a regular girls’ (or boys’) night out. Every woman needs time with other women, just as every man needs a night out with the guys. If it’s been a while since you’ve connected with friends or relatives, get on the phone and start arranging a day — or night — spent in their company.
27. Take a weekend getaway. If you present the idea to your partner as an adventure, he’ll be more inclined to get into the act. Once you’ve gotten him excited, the fun begins: deciding where you’ll go, what you’ll do, and how you’ll get there. And to make sure he’s invested in the idea, let him in on the planning. Pore over maps and the travel section of the newspaper together. Discuss whether you should splurge on a room with a hot tub or a fireplace.
28. Renew your vows. Renewing your vows renews your commitment not only to your partner but also to keeping passion and intimacy in your relationship. You can do it once a year by taking a romantic getaway on your anniversary or make it a once-in-lifetime event.
29. Write him a love letter or send her a love e-mail. Don’t worry that you’re “not a writer” — be simple and sincere, rather than trying too hard to be romantic. On simple but good-quality stationery, describe to your partner how he/she makes you feel. Mention specific qualities he/she possesses that you appreciate, or little quirks you find endearing. Recall your past times together and describe your hopes for the future. Slip the letter into an envelope and tuck it in a briefcase or purse. (Just be careful your partner doesn’t pull it out at an important business meeting.) If your partner is the type to snort at a love letter, send an e-mail at work.
30. Read the comics out loud to each other and share funny stories from your day. A 2004 study found that sharing humorous experiences significantly reduced the amount of conflict couples felt.
31. Go shopping (or watch a ball game) with a close friend. One study found that couples who have individual friendships outside their marriage were more satisfied with their marital relationships than those who didn’t.
32. Demonstrate your love by working to improve something about yourself that bugs your partner. For instance, if she prefers you thin, join the gym or take up a nightly walk (preferably with her). If he’s a neat freak, stop throwing your dirty socks on the floor and leaving your dishes in the sink. Saying “I love you” is always nice, but showing it is really fundamental.
33. Always put your marriage first, even if you have a houseful of kids. This is a golden rule: Of all your relationships, your spouse always comes first. After all, the kids are going to leave someday soon; hopefully, your partner isn’t. Plus, giving up your life as a couple to indulge your children simply sets an uninspiring example: Grow up, become an adult, then you, too, can subjugate your existence to that of your children. Putting your marriage first means things like deliberately setting aside time for the two of you, whether it’s a weekly date, a nightly bath together, or dinner alone a few nights a week (feed the kids early).
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