Sarah Karmely, a New York-based pre-marital coach, marriage counselor and author, offers some advice for moms and dads to nurture a healthy relationship
Make each other feel important on a regular basis. Smile at each other, make eye contact, and make time for each other. Turn off the phone and the TV and talk. Hang up the phone when your partner comes home to show them that they are the priority, not your phone conversation.
Give each other little gifts. A note or a single flower can express how much you love and cherish each other.
Don’t neglect intimacy. This is the glue that binds a marriage together. It’s healing and powerful. Couples should make time tobe intimate two to three times a week. Not in the mood? Try the forbidden fruit method. Clinics for sexual dysfunction recommend abstaining from intimacy for two weeks so you will desire each other more often.
Take a mini honeymoon. Send your kids to a relative’s house for one night or even a weekend so that you have time to relax together and reconnect.
If you do go on a date night, make it a real date. After five minutes, don’t talk about the kids or the bills. Focus on the kinds of things you talked about when you were dating – books, movies, politics. Court each other.
Take care of yourself. Exercise, drink plenty of water and eat healthy foods. You need to feel your best.
Don’t compare your relationship to others. It might appear as though someone else’s husband helps more in the kitchen, or someone else’s wife stays home with the kids, but you don’t know what happens behind closed doors. Comparing only leads you to feel dissatisfied and inadequate.
Make guidelines for how each partner can help around the house and stick to them. Housework is often a cause of frustration in a marriage.
Don’t fight on an empty stomach. Choose the right time and place to speak if you’re upset. It should be quiet, private and after you’ve eaten so that your low blood sugar doesn’t cause you to say anything you’ll regret.
Don’t forget the significance of food. If your partner is the one who usually cooks, turn the tables and cook something for your partner; or ensure the kitchen is filled with their favourite foods to show that you thought of them.
Choose someone impartial and objective to talk to about marital issues. Avoid confiding in your parents. Even after you’ve patched things up with your spouse, your parents won’t forget.
Sarah Karmely is the author of Words to Hear with your Heart and two CDs about relationships. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Originally published in ParentsCanada, May 2012