1. A good marriage is possible for anyone who is willing to work for it. I believe it's harder and more painful to not work for connection. People are always looking for an easy button, but the truth is short cuts and complacency often bring torment into one's life. It's easier to move towards each other than away from each other.
2. Stay connected to what made you attractive in the first place. Ladies - don't get frumpy!!!! I understand that life can get overwhelming and we all deserve days without makeup and high heels. A good man will love you through many different stages in life. But it is your responsibility to inspire your man with your beauty. Keep things exciting, reinvent yourself, put effort into being beautiful - inside and out! Guys - don't stop chasing your lady! You're a hunter at heart. If you become a bump on a log you are shooting yourself in the foot. Watch a few Brad Pitt movies to jump start some passion. That guy knows how to get a woman's heart beating! And, if you're already on that side of the spectrum - learn loyalty. Affairs and flirting may seem exciting. But long lasting covenant love is the stuff that truly satisfies.
3. Don't make the kids the center of your world. How many people have done that, and when the last one leaves the house the marriage is null and void? Your kids need you to be connected. They need to know that they have a solid anchor to settle into. They need a model of love that they can take into adulthood. Kids also need to know the world does not revolve around them alone, that is not setting them up for reality. Kids will feel more secure and happy if Mom and Dad are connected.
4. Create a culture of respect in your home. Last time I checked, sarcasm and disrespect were not on the list of aphrodisiacs recommended by sex experts. It should be you and him against the world, not you and him against each other. Fight for that! Don't let resentment and frustration and misunderstanding drive a wedge between you and the one you're meant to do life with.
5. Nostalgia can stir the embers of passion. One thing that always helped Jon and I during the "rocky" years of disconnection was to sit down and talk about what made us fall in love in the beginning. It's important to talk about those things often. It's important to remember what brought you together.
6. Learn each other's love languages. This is a great website and a great book to read: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/
7. Don't take your spouse for granted. There are broken people out there roaming to and fro, waiting to steal your spouse from you and prey on your marriage. You need a plan to make each other feel safe. Talk about your concerns, set boundaries with people who have the wrong intentions. The number one problem I see in this area is a "nice" husband who thinks he is just trying to help another woman, and then it comes back to bite him in the you-know-what. Husbands listen to your wives warnings. We have a 6th sense about women who are predators. The other problem I see running rampant is when you work too closely with someone of the opposite sex. I've said this before in previous blogs, under no circumstances do I think it's wisdom to spend that much alone time with a member of the opposite sex that is not your spouse. Men - hire male assistants. Women - hire female assistants. Why risk your marriage for something that is so simple to avoid?
8. Find things to do together. Have date nights. What you protect and invest in will flourish.
9. Bring in people who have a good connection, and ask them some dang questions for Pete's sake! A little humility will go a long way when it comes to learning about relationship. I know men who will spend hours studying for fantasy football, or hunting, or fishing, or some other hobby. But how many will pick up a book on relationships? How many will study their wife with the same intent? You find a man who will do that, you find a very happy marriage. Ladies, bring some intrigue to the table. Be an interesting subject to study.
10. And lastly, do something. Move one foot in front of the other, baby steps! There is always something you can do to cultivate an atmosphere of love and trust. Some have a lot more work to do than others but it is so worth it.