2018 could be the year improve your marriage even beyond your wildest hopes. The start of any new year gives us an opportunity to renew efforts which can achieve desired goals in all areas of life, physical, mental and certainly our relationships.
Skip the weight loss program this year. This is the year to make your marriage great, maybe for the first time.
How to improve your marriage is up to you and will depend upon you and your partner.
The unique characteristics of your relationship or marriage. Having said that, there are numerous things we all can do to make things better in any relationship. Just as there are physical things which can improve any person’s body, such as regular exercise of one sort of the other or proper diet, likewise the following words to guide your marriage in 2018 apply to most any marital/relationship situation.
All you have to do is be willing to give proven ideas and methods a chance.
Here are my suggestions, developed over years of working with couples, keeping current on relationship research and learning from my own personal relationships. Of course, what do I know? But, then again, the best way to test out the wisdom of the following suggestions is for you and your partner to give them a try.
- I’m sorry
Nothing new here. I’m sure you’ve heard this one before. Being willing to say, “I’m sorry, please forgive me, I didn’t mean to hurt you,” and similar things which reflects your willingness to examine your behavior (such as what was said or done)and how it impacts your marriage. If the partner is willing to express these kinds of sentiments coupled with a willingness to try again and do better, it’s the attitude that makes a difference as much as what the actual words used.
Let go of the belief that you’re so perfect the only reason you do anything bad is because of something somebody else, such as your partner, said or did. Get over your wonderful mess and terminal uniqueness and be willing to admit your part in whatever is going on in your relationship. Stop focusing on your partner. Focus on how would you say and do and how that affects the quality of your relationship.
One of the best things you can do after saying I’m sorry is to say, “Please tell me what I can do in the future that would be more supportive, kind and beneficial to you and which are dealing with?”
- Appointment sex
I’m putting this one near the top of the list to give you an opportunity to get over the shock of this recommendation and to noodle on ago while before you reject it outright. Here’s why you need a sex schedule
I know in America, sex, romance, and all things related are supposed to be spontaneous, springing out of the depths of a couple’s love for each other as if their love had a life of their own. There are several problems with this myth.
- In America, what is scheduled usually takes precedence over the spontaneous or unplanned for. Priority is most likely give to the things we have not put on the calendar and to-do lists. Work before play, etc. The result is no matter how wonderful spontaneity is, it takes the back seat to everything else on the agenda. And then, we’re too tired and it, whatever it is including sex, gets pushed aside. Sex is important. Put it on your calendar.
- The eternal spring of youthful loving ages and in so doing everything related including, sex. As with most things that age, unless properly managed and nurtured, they will die.
- This so call spontaneous flow of love and sexual energy is no more wise or smart or intelligent than the lava flowing out of a volcano. No doubt this spontaneous flow of sexuality can hot and all-consuming, but it gives no thought to how to sustain itself or how best to be used to make your marriage better in 2018. Sexual energy is like any energy, electrical, chemical or nuclear. It just is. The user has to decide when and how best to use that energy and for what purpose.
- Sex by schedule is especially advantageous for many men. Husband’s often like predictability, as set structure and routine they can count on. Many men shy away from open ended, unscheduled ambiguity. When a man knows what he can count on and where he stands, he will often overlook other temptations. It’s the old one bird in hand is often seen as a better deal than the unpredictability of trying to perhaps catch two birds still in the bush.
It goes without saying that when the appointed time comes for sex as agreed upon by a couple, (both when and what), that both partners, both partners must their agreement, show up and participate no excuses other than severe illness or other catastrophic crises.
Sex by appointment means that you and your partner agree on a day and time when you will show up naked and available to each other with no agenda planned other than to be available for mutual, consensual touching. You also agree to make yourself open to each other in this manner for least 15 or 20 minutes. If nothing happens thank each other for the intimate exposure and go on about your lives until the next appointment. I suggest that you at least touch each other in kind and respectful ways to give your bodies a chance to warm up before you call it quits for that appointment.
Appointment sex should be tried, if you’ve not done this before, for a reasonable period of time to experiment with its benefits. I would suggest no less than three months, with an appointment set for at least once a week. It goes without saying these appointments should be prime-time with nothing else interrupting your privacy, including children, work or electronic devices such as phones and televisions.
Chances are good that, like most other couples who had discovered the benefits of sex by appointment, you will say, “Why didn’t we do this sooner?” Of course, this does not rule out spontaneous sex. It just provides a guaranteed minimum that you and your partner can count on. Anything else is a delicious bonus.
- Surprise your spouse/partner
Just to remind you of how it can be, remember the dating and courtship period you had with your partner. And it was, among other things full of discoveries about each other and fun together on many levels.
This word of guidance is intended to keep fun in your relationship. It doesn’t mean that you ambush your partner or spouse. It means that you lead the way into experiences that are not fully scripted by habit and routine and allow for smiles of fun, joy and play with the person you love.
You may think of it as the opposite of sex by appointment, and it is intended to be. We need both unanticipated novelty and steady, scheduled predictability to keep our live balanced.
Good surprises can add excitement to your relationship and that puts energy and life into the mix. Who wants a dull, unexciting marriage?
It can be as simple as a note tucked into a lunch bag or complement strategically attached to a garment reminding your partner of a characteristic they have which endears them to you.
Or it can be as elaborate as setting up the logistics of a long dreamed of trip both of you may have given up on.
A good rule to follow here is to alternate surprises. I’ve seen couples use their date night for this, each one of them alternatively planning a “surprise date experience.” How much fun can you possibly stand? I don’t know, but I’d urge you to find out.
- No secrets (Out With It)
There is some controversy about this one. All I can tell you is my experience says play it safe don’t keep secrets. The longer you keep them, the more they will stink when the dead cats are let out of the bag.
There’s a difference between keeping a secret and keeping privacy. One’s privacy is determined on the basis of things like personal modesty, notions of decency and other values that have to do with keeping personal boundaries.
A secret, on the other hand, is a piece of information that when revealed causes hurt and damage to your relationship. You can ask yourself, “If my spouse or partner knew I was doing xyz, would they be hurt? Would it affect the trust level in our relationship?” If so, that’s a secret.
The longer a secret is kept, the greater the damage when it becomes known. Do some damage control. Clean out the closets of secrets. A professional counselor can be very helpful assisting couples through the difficulty of coming clean with each other. If you’re not sure something should be revealed or how to do that, an objective, neutral counselor can help.
- Don’t pry for secrets
The more you pry and search for evidence of a secret, ironically the more likely you are to become a part of it. Here’s how. When you keep pushing your partner to “tell the truth” begun and the more likely they are to become defensive. When they become defensive they may even lie more, cover up more and eventually move to attack you. Then you get righteously indignant and defensive because in your mind you’re the victim, the one taken advantage of by the secret you’re trying to expose.
You now have an argument and a very tense emotional environment between the two of you which makes things even worse because that does not encourage open, honest communication. With both of you bunkered in a fighting mode, it is unlikely you will take off your armor and become vulnerable to each other, the very opposite of what you wanted in the first place.
What you can count on is that sooner or later, odds are high the secret will eventually come out. Then you can deal with all the devastation in chaos. There’s no gain in trying to drag a secret out of someone who is set on hiding truth. Ironically, even if after you bludgeon them into telling the truth and confront them with incontrovertible evidence, the rip in your relationship trust will be very difficult to repair.
- Don’t count on a good marriage if you don’t spend time together
This guideline is so obvious that it’s a cliché. I mention it only as a reminder. Whatever you spend time on will grow and stay healthy. What is neglected and not given attention will eventually die. It’s a rule of the universe. It applies to jobs, children, pets, house plants and marriages.
- Write an advertisement for your partner for a dating app
This is a fun exercise. Lovers are really good at finding good characteristics in each other. So sit down and write out a narrative elaborating all the positive details that would get your partner or spouse many hits on a dating website if it were to be posted.
Be honest, be real and polish your mate’s attractive and desirable traits. This should not be flattery. It should be a heart-felt statement about good things you appreciate in your spouse.
What you do with this advertisement a once finished is up to you. For starters, invite your mate to do the same thing about you and then exchange these loving documents with each other when appropriate.
- Have a little fun with each other every day
At this point, certainly in America, most adults do not need to bond, marry or otherwise hook up with a partner. We do it as a choice, not a necessity. Because of that, people choose partners differently than they used to. Basically we choose partners today because we like them (love them), we have fun with them, they add an extra quality to our life when we are with them.
More so than not, we pick partners for fun, not for work or money. We pick partners for enjoyment and playfulness, rather than status, power, survival or simply to reproduce. But even if some of these practical matters have entered into the process you used to pick a partner, I suspect fun is still a major ingredient that you desire with your mate.
Couples who play and have fun together are more likely to have long-term relationships. It’s difficult to stay with someone who does not share humor, tickle us, both emotionally and physically and tends to dwell on the stoic, dower side of life.
Let having a little fun be a daily act and improve your marriage in 2018.