Develop a Better and Healthier Marriage

All couples get married expecting that their relationship will remain as warm, loving, and intimate as it was on their wedding day. And for many couples, it does. There’s no secret and no luck involved: These couples have simply learned to devote time and attention to their marriage. Not just sometimes, but every day.

You see, it’s not diamonds and flowers that make a marriage, but the little things. Each morning, he makes you coffee, while you make sure the freezer is always stocked with his favorite ice cream. You’re still spontaneous, taking a Friday afternoon off to explore the countryside and stop at an out-of-the-way roadhouse for lunch. You’re each other’s best friend, there when things go right — or wrong — but still appreciate your time apart. Above all, you learn through the years to accept each other’s shortcomings and to forgive each other for transgressions both large and small.

The fact is, like a garden, you must attend to love. While the sun and rain will do their part to make a garden bloom, you still have to pull the weeds, fertilize, and provide tender loving care.

The good news is that in any relationship, particularly an intimate one, taking small, simple steps can bring big results. So check out the tips below. Most fall in the category of what we like to call “random acts of romance.” You’re sure to find more than a few ways to keep your love alive, vital, and evergreen, no matter how long you’ve been brushing your teeth side by side.

1. Say thank you at least once a day. You thank others for the little courtesies they do you. But do you thank your partner for his or hers? If she makes you breakfast every morning, thank her — and mean it. (How many wives make such a loving gesture?) If he took out the trash without your asking, thank him — even if it’s his job. Saying, “Thanks!” once a day can help you avoid taking each other for granted.

2. Praise your partner for the little things. If there’s something you appreciate about your partner, from the way she makes scrambled eggs to how hard he’s working on the kitchen-remodeling project, speak up! Praising your partner reminds him (or her) that you love him (or her), and knowing you are loved makes you more willing to iron out differences.

3. Do small kindnesses for your partner. The good we do tends to come back to us. When you’re thoughtful to your partner, she’s more inclined to be thoughtful in return. So pick up each other’s favorite dessert, clip or e-mail articles you think your spouse might like, make a favorite dinner, take on the other’s chores, give your spouse a day off with no chores or expectations.

4. Deliver on your promises. Failing to keep your word can destroy the unity and trust in a relationship. It’s better to say, “Let me think about it” than say you will do something but drop the ball.

5. Play a game of show and tell. Though it sounds X-rated, what we’re suggesting is that you and your partner take turns choosing an arts or cultural event to attend together each month. The point is to show your partner what you love, so that he/she can experience it as you do (or close enough). To make this work, both of you have to be flexible: You may have to attend the Saturday-night race at the local dirt track, and he may have to go to the community theater with you. But the reward lies in experiencing each other’s delight and sharing something of yourselves with each other. And who knows — you may have a lot more fun than you ever imagined.

6. Kiss under a full moon. On a gorgeous evening, spread a blanket under the night sky and drink in the beauty and quiet of your surroundings together. You can talk if you wish, or simply savor the silence and being together, side by side, under the stars.

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