No matter how far along the marriage highway you’ve gone, there are some simple, fundamental rules of the road. Putting them into practice isn’t always easy, but it’s critical. If you do play by the rules, you’ll make your marriage stronger, and the good stuff—fun, sex, trust, affection—will be better than ever.
1. Build up your love balance. Boredom, frustration and everyday irritations can douse the spark between you and your spouse—and more of the same certainly won’t feed the flame. Making the good stuff your top priority will. Here’s how to do it:
First, consider that it takes up to 20 positive statements to outweigh the harm done by one negative one—or by a steely squint or impatient “humph.” So do more of the former, less of the latter. Compliment your wife on her new shoes, or your husband on his new blue shirt. Thank him for helping around the house. Dial her office for a quick “thinking of you” check-in (don’t discuss household chores or bad report cards).
Be sure these compliments and thank-yous are heartfelt and specific: “I can always count on you to make sure my car is safe and ready to use.” “This new tablecloth is nice—you’re always thinking of ways to make our home pleasant.” Make eye contact when you smile or deliver a compliment. Try a little joyful noise (a happy sigh, say) when giving a loving touch.
Once you take this approach, you’ll realize that, in addition to knowing how to push Mr. or Mrs. Right’s hot buttons, you know how to push his or her joy buttons too (and we don’t just mean sex). After all, that’s how this whole thing started. It won’t be long before you appreciate that it’s always the right time for small acts of love. Give him a “glad to see you” hug and kiss when you get home. Surprise her with coffee in bed on a rainy Sunday (then stay to talk). Revel in the best qualities; let faults slide. Flash your “I’m so happy we’re here together” smile as you schlep the recycling bin to the curb. Resolve to enjoy a long kiss before you turn in each night. You do little things for your kids. Why not for your spouse?
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