1. Think back to when you were courting your spouse...what things did you do?
...When you were dating, weren’t you paying close attention to his or her preferences? Trying to look your best? Spending as much time as possible with him or her? Was there anything more important than your friendship & love? So why should it be any different now?
- Learn to like what your spouse likes...and to be interested in what he or she is interested in.
- Have intellectual discussions...like you did in the "old," days. Talk about books, politics, faith, each other, etc.
- Don’t let yourself go! Quit dressing like a slob...there’s still competition out there. :)
2. Intentionally spend more time together.
...doing dishes and laundry, going to the grocery store, weeding the garden, taking daily walks around the block, etc.
- Go out on a date at least once a week...for the rest of your lives!
- These can be dinners out, walks, shopping, going to museums, concerts, and plays, or just taking long drives together. Husbands, you should ask her out each time; and wives, you should dress up occasionally, just to make it special. (And it doesn't count as a real date...if you bring the kids!) Furthermore, if you double-date with another couple for one of those times each month, it's a terrific way to make new friends, to let you reflect on how another couple interacts (and maybe to remind you of how lucky you are to have the spouse you do), and it provides a whole new set of topics to keep your relationship fresh and lively.
- Leave the TV off occasionally. (You might be surprised by the payoff.)
- Touch each other often. Hold hands; brush as you go by each other; give frequent head, back, and foot rubs; kiss each other on the neck; make being affectionate a daily habit. You liked it when you were dating...is that stuff no longer important? (If you’re not sure...just ask your spouse.)
- Don’t wait till you’re in bed to start making out.
3. Make long-range plans together.
...and focus more on helping your spouse reach his or her personal goals.
- Share your struggles & dreams with each other.
- Communicate what’s on your mind. Real friends talk with each other (and not to each other).
- Talk with him or her as much as you did when you were dating.
- Take vacations together as often as you can...it’s a higher priority than you realize. So take the time, right now, to plan a future vacation. If other matters interfere - or if you haven’t saved up enough - you can always postpone it until later. But if you never make any plans...it’s guaranteed that you’ll never have a vacation. (For their romantic value, we strongly suggest that you save up for: New York City; Williamsburg; Disneyworld & the World of Harry Potter; Paris; Mont-St-Michel; the Loire Valley; The Lake District; Brugge; Rothenburg; Neuschwanstein; and just about anywhere in Ireland and Scotland.)
4. Don't ever criticize your spouse in public.
...or in front of your kids or other family members!
- Compliment often...but especially in public, and in front of your kids & family members. Be his or her champion!
- Go out of your way to praise & honor your spouse in front of others!
- Remember those times when you wished that someone would show sympathy for your struggles, and speak up to defend you in public? Well, the Golden Rule says that you’ll get what you give...so show sympathy to your spouse,and defend him or her in public!
- Life is hard enough...without having your spouse beat you down, too. So don’t beat down your spouse! Be the loving support when he or she needs it. If necessary, re-learn to like him or her. Learn to overlook his or her weaknesses...they’re part of the package you fell in love with.
- The truth is that if you want your spouse to overlook your weaknesses & annoying habits (and you know you do), you’d better start overlooking the weaknesses & annoying habits of your spouse.
5. Your marriage relationship is more important than your relationship with your kids.
...and they’re watching you to see how it’s done.
- Dance, hug, kiss and snuggle...in front of the kids. Let them know that you’re happy...and in love. Otherwise, they might think that marriage is a drag, or that it’s like what’s portrayed on TV.
- Laugh a lot together!
- Don’t count coup! Don’t ever keep score. “Girls rule, boys drool.” :)