Tag Archives: prevent divorce

New Inspirational Marriage Book Available

After three long years of preparation and work, I’m thrilled to announce that my book, First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage is now available!

Just in time for Christmas, the book is ideal for married couples of all ages and stages who want to achieve a blissful  marriage, but who understand life sometimes gets in the way.

First Kiss to Lasting Bliss features the real-life stories of couples across the U.S. Many of them used adversity to improve their marriages. Couples overcame drug addiction, infidelity, stranger rape, bankruptcy, raising a special needs child, infertility, loss of a child, military separation, opposing religions, differing races, unsupportive families, life-threatening injuries and illnesses, depression, brain injury, and MUCH more. These couples didn’t just survive, they became great love stories that can inspire us all. You will get to know the couples and their often difficult journeys, as well as the keys to their now-strong marriages.

In the book, I also share 12 overarching lessons that these couples taught me while writing the book. These lessons can inspire you to take your marriage to the next level.

The book is offered in print and e-book editions. The print version is $14.95, and e-books range from $7.99 to $9.99 depending on which format you choose. But no matter what format you choose, I’m happy to offer seven free marriage tools/products from other marriage educators and writers who are generously offering them to all those who purchase my book. Visit my web site for the awesome list (and thanks to all the contributors!) and the links to the different book formats. You can also find testimonials, the book introduction and interviews with me on my site www.LoriDLowe.comGo here if you would rather go straight to Amazon.com to buy the book. (You still get the freebies if you email me).

I’ve shared hundreds of research-based marriage tips here at Marriage Gems during the last three years. If you have found this blog helpful, I hope you will check out the book. Please consider sharing it with your friends or family who could use some encouragement.

I thank all of you for your support and for your interactions here, which keep me motivated to research and write about this important topic that has the potential to help so many families. I especially thank my family for their patience during this rather large undertaking.

I wish you bliss in your relationships!

LINKS:
I wrote this guest post for Engaged Marriage called “Love is Sacrificial.”

For Christian readers, check out this guest post for Journey to Surrender called “A Counter-Cultural Pathway to a Stronger Christian Marriage.”

Take Responsibility for Your Own Relationship Happiness

During this busy holiday season, don’t forget to carve out some time with your spouse. I recommend these three powerful questions spouses ask one another.  Hopefully you are scheduling at least 10 to 20 minutes a day to connect with your spouse, even when you’re busy. These are great discussion questions so that you don’t end up talking about your to-do list, the kids and the unfinished chores.

And now I’d like to share a guest post from relationship coach, speaker and author of Secrets of Happy Couples, Kim Olver. Kim reminds us that even if we are a part of a couple, we need to function independently and be responsible for our own happiness. It’s not our partner’s job to complete us or make us happy.

You Complete Me . . . NOT!

Tom Cruise said it in Jerry McGuire . . . “You complete me.” It’s a nice sentiment, but it’s sad if it’s really true. If you want to create a relationship that works, you want to be a whole, fully functioning person when you enter it. You also want the other person in the relationship to be a whole, fully functioning person, too. When you both bring your fullest, most authentic selves to the relationship, you are stacking the odds in your favor.

So the obvious question is, “How do I figure out who my fullest self is?” You’ll know because you will feel complete all by yourself. When you are alone, you won’t feel lonely. You appreciate being with others and even having a special someone in your life but they aren’t necessary for your happiness. You complete yourself. You are enough. You are special and unique and you don’t need another person to validate your worth. Here are some steps to take when you find yourself in the Alone Stage of Relationships to move you toward your fullest self.

Whenever you are between relationships, it’s important to do some serious introspection. There are many things to consider. First, what part did you play in your past relationship not working out. It’s very easy to blame the other person and certainly they had a part to play. But so did you.

You want to spend some time thinking about why you chose the person. Are you not discriminating enough and settling for partners who do not suit you? Do you use a lot of criticism in your relationships? Do you give and give and give until you have nothing left to give? Do you have so many deal breakers that it is virtually impossible for a person to meet your standards?

Time alone does not mean time to feel sorry for yourself or time to hop from one relationship to another, although these are options many people choose. If you want to have successful relationships, there are lessons for you to learn along way. When you are in between relationships, it’s a great time for self-reflection. Take the time to look at the role you played in your relationship not working out. There are always two people in your relationship and each has a part to play in either the success for failure of the relationship. Look to see what your role was.

Then, the second step to take is to create your list for your ideal mate. What are the qualities, skills and characteristics you are seeking in a life partner? Get very clear about the things you can’t live without. These are your deal breakers. You want to be sure you are spending time with people who can meet your non-negotiables. Deal breakers vary from person to person.

When you don’t know what your deal breakers are, then you will often waste time in relationships that are not good for you. Deal breakers might include infidelity, violence, child abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, financial irresponsibility, and level of physical activity. These are usually things that are totally offensive to your value system. Get serious about what they are so you can discriminate when someone has the propensity toward one of your deal breakers and stop wasting your time and theirs.

On the other hand, you don’t want to have so many deal breakers that no one but a fictitious Prince Charming could ever live up to them. In this case, whenever you begin a new relationship, you are looking for the flaws and cracks. And when you look that hard, you are destined to find them! No one will be able to pass the “test.”

You then want to compile a list of the things that are important to you in a relationship. Things like income, intimacy, attractiveness, type of employment, friends, extended family members, hobbies, etc. When you begin a new relationship, you will want to know this person possesses a good percentage of the things you want in a life partner. If you don’t know what those qualities are, then you will settle for anybody, thus setting yourself up for constant dissatisfaction.

You may also create a list of bonus qualities that would be awesome for your partner to possess but it’s not necessary, essential or even important. They are just bonuses.

Once you have your list and you can almost picture your perfect partner, then it’s time to take a long, hard look in the mirror. You need to ask yourself, “Am I the person my perfect partner would be attracted to? Would my perfect partner want me?”

If your answer is yes, then great! You already are your fullest, most authentic self. However, if you are seeking a person who would never be attracted to the person you are now, then you have some self-development ahead of you. Ask yourself who would you be if you were the perfect complement for your perfect partner? What kinds of things would you do and not do? What would you have in your life? What kind of person would you be?

Once you have identified who you want to be, then you want to begin the process of reinventing yourself into the person you want to be so you can attract the mate you want into your life. When you become your fullest, most authentic self, are clear about whom you want to share your life with, and understand you relationship patterns, then you have vastly increased the chances that your next relationship will be your best relationship thus far. Enjoy the journey!

Only a few more days before my book, First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage, is out! It will be available December 8th on Amazon.com and in various e-book formats at  www.LoriDLowe.com.  The book’s Facebook page is www.Facebook.com/LastingBliss. Please help me spread the word. Thank you!

 Photo by David Castillo Dominici courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

First Kiss to Lasting Bliss Interview

Thanks to Mrs. Levine of Whispered Between Women for interviewing me about my upcoming book, FIRST KISS TO LASTING BLISS: Hope & Inspiration for Your  Marriage. You can visit her lovely site and read the full interview here. I am re-posting the highlights here at her suggestion, with a link to the full interview:

Mrs. Levine: I’ve been following Lori Lowe’s blog Marriage Gems for a couple of years and find her advice on marriage truly wonderful and inspiring. I took the opportunity to ask her some of my burning questions on how to help a marriage last a lifetime.

Mrs. Levine: Is avoiding lifestyle traps one of the best ways of helping a marriage flourish over decades?

Lori Lowe: I do think avoiding today’s lifestyle traps can help a marriage flourish. For example, the ever-changing desires for more material goods, nicer cars, bigger houses, great vacations, and the like, can cause financial stress. Research shows couples who are more focused on material goods have less strong marriages. The truth is that material goods never really satisfy our deepest longings. If we spent the time and effort focusing on trying to please each other and doing something great in the world that is bigger than ourselves, we find much greater happiness.

 
Mrs. Levine: When illness or an accident changes the marriage so that one spouse is a care provider and the other is a care receiver, how does a couple maintain an equal emotional balance in the relationship?

Lori Lowe: One couple in the book experienced a brain injury at a young age, and the wife has become a caregiver. Due to his slow awakening from a coma, it’s almost as if he fell in love with his wife a second time. He asked her to marry him before he understood that he was already married to her. She remained at his side and committed to his recovery, and works daily to help him regain his mobility. Just because one person has physical limitations doesn’t mean that any part of the love dies away. At some point (hopefully much later in life), most of us as couples will face some physical limits either in ourselves or in our spouse. While it’s not pleasant to think about, it may help you prepare for the future.

Mrs. Levine: What is your best piece of advice to couples for a marriage that lasts a lifetime?

Lori Lowe: If I have to limit the advice to one thing, I’d say focus on pleasing each other. It creates a virtuous cycle of giving and loving. If you are willing to go first and be the one who acts in love and generosity, you can start that cycle. What is something that would please your spouse today? More sex or touching during the day? Grocery shopping or cooking dinner? Spending time together? Saying thank you instead of complaining?  Do what you know will please your spouse, and if you don’t know, be sure to ask.

If I can add one other thing, I’d say don’t expect your spouse to fill your every need. If we each learn to be interesting and fulfilled people individually, we bring more to the marriage, and we hopefully won’t have as many unrealistic expectations of each other.

Read More for the rest of the Q&A.

Receive book information at www.LoriDLowe.com, and check out the Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/LastingBliss. First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage will be available Dec. 8, 2011.

Is Resentment Coming Between You and Your Spouse?

Guest post by Claire Hatch, LICSW

Like a lot of people, you’re pretty happy with your marriage. You’re lucky. You found someone who shares your values, makes you laugh, and who is really a good person who means well.

And yet—whenever something happens that reminds you of that, your blood pressure shoots up and your mind starts to spin. Maybe it’s the way he follows other women with his eyes when you’re out to dinner. Maybe it’s the way she has to have the last word about the children.

You’ve got some resentment built up. You know you’d be so much closer and happier together if you could figure out how to talk about it. But how do you break the ice without things going south?

 Look Inside Before You Talk

As a marriage counselor, I help people with this problem every day. I’ve learned that if you get a better handle on your own experience before you talk, it changes the game. Resentment snowballs in a predictable series of stages. When you step back and look at them, one by one, the swirl of angry feelings in your head settles down. You can see clearly what you need to say to your partner to reach the understanding you’ve been wanting.

To help you do this, I developed a model called the Cycle of Resentment. Here’s how it works.

 Understand the Cycle of Resentment

Picture a circle. At the top of the circle is the Trigger Event, that thing your partner did or didn’t do that upset you so much.

Next in the cycle are your desires. I call them Burning Unmet Desires. You only get hurt when there’s something you want very badly from your partner. That’s what turns an everyday occurrence into a trigger. Your desire might be for your partner to help more with the kids or to go on a date with you. But your deepest desires are the emotional ones, such as feeling accepted, secure, admired, or special. These are the kinds of desires that lead to the keenest resentment when they’re left unfulfilled.

When your desires are thwarted, you tend to draw Negative Conclusions, such as “He doesn’t care about me” or “I have to do all the work around here.” The more trips you make around the cycle, the more fixed your conclusions become in your mind.

Your conclusions can’t help but produce Painful Feelings. You’ll feel hurt and angry, and maybe disillusioned, anxious or powerless.

Then, when you’re in the grip of your feelings, you’ll have some kind of Reactions. Do you try harder to convince your partner to do what you want? Do you get angry and lash out? Some of your reactions fuel the cycle and keep it going.

Your desires get more intense as you go through the cycle. In the last stage, you develop some New Desires. Usually, the number one New Desire is for your partner to understand everything you’ve been through. If you can get this desire met, you’re on your way to stopping the cycle. But the less you feel understood, the more little things become Trigger Events. And you go through the cycle all over again.

As you read this, you might already be feeling like you’re looking at things with more perspective. I see that happen a lot with people I work with. What I’d like you to do now is to choose one particular resentment you’ve been struggling with. Chart its course through the cycle. You want to take your time, look at each stage, and identify exactly what you were going through at that point in the cycle.

 Speak Up, and Get the Understanding You Crave

Once you’ve sorted out your own stages of the cycle, you’ll find it much easier to have a successful conversation with your partner. You’ll be able to zero in on what’s really important to you. You might also see some ways you’ve contributed to the resentment snowball. If you can take some responsibility for that, you’ll find your partner is much more open to talking with you.

In some cases, your discussion will lead to new solutions, for example about how you can share the child care or find more time to go out together. But often those kind of concrete solutions are beside the point. Sometimes feeling understood is the solution. The truth is, for most of us, that’s the most important emotional desire of all.

Claire Hatch, LICSW is a marriage counselor in the Seattle area. She writes a marriage blog at ClaireHatch.com and released her book, Save Your Marriage: Get Rid of Your Resentment in October, 2011.

NOTE: A special thank you to Mrs. Levine of the beautiful blog, Whispered Between Women, for publishing an interview with me about my upcoming book. I’ll republish the post later in the week, but you can also read it here:

Photo by nuttakit courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Divorce Harder on Women During Great Recession

The recent recession has made divorce even more of a financial struggle, particularly for women who may have been out of the workforce caring for children.

Despite this fact, more than two-thirds of divorces are filed by women—and most of these are from low-conflict marriages, not where abuse was present in any form. But women may not understand the bleak financial situations they may end up in as a result of divorce.

Years ago, a divorcing friend told me she believed her financial situation would improve after her divorce due to the amount of child support and alimony she expected. Unsurprisingly, her financial situation greatly worsened after she filed for divorce. Within the year, she was filing for bankruptcy while caring for two children, and arguing with her ex about everything from the cost of school clothes to dental bills.

I’m curious about whether at any point she would have liked to go back in time and try to work on her marriage, since her biggest complaint before the split was that her husband just didn’t “get” her, and that they were just too different. I wonder if her previous problems were easier to deal with than seeing her ex quickly remarry, watching her boys raised half the time with a new step-mother with whom she often disagreed, and constantly experiencing money problems.

The moral of the story is that divorce didn’t solve any of her problems; it just created new ones. For some, these problems become so severe that divorced people find they cannot cope, and turn to alcohol or other means of coping. Last I heard, this old friend was using alcohol as her aid, even in front of the children.   

According to a report this week from Reuters, experts say alarming number of women emerge from divorce lacking even basic money management skills, and are deemed financially illiterate. The recession in 2011 has placed added strain on couples and on divorced women in particular. Even for professional women with financial skills, the reality is that a household’s expenses will multiply when split into two separate households. Financial stress and conflict is likely to increase, not decrease, as expenses multiply.

The University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project reports that the divorce rate has closely tracked the roller coaster of our economy during the last several years, with a 24 percent drop between 2008 and 2009 when unemployment rose and many families were facing a mortgage nightmare. In 2009, the divorce rate again dropped, but it is back on the rise as the economy slowly recovers from the recession.

Financial strain and child custody concerns add to the conflict and difficulty of today’s divorce cases. While women file for divorce more often than men, both women and men need to understand they can’t solve their family crises and financial stresses with a divorce. Each spouse needs to have financial understanding of their current situation, even if it’s difficult or complex, and even if professional help is needed to reach this understanding. (Financial advice is far less expensive than a divorce.)

When facing any crisis, couples who view themselves as part of a team (using words like “we” and “us”) working together against a common problem are more successful than those who approach problems individually. See The Power of “We” for details. A pro-marriage counselor can help couples who are at a loss about how to move forward. (Read What’s a Pro-Marriage Counselor, and How Do You Find One?)

If you feel your spouse has been out of line and is too difficult to live with, consider that most couples who stay together during the bad times end up much happier in time if they stay together. (Their children also fare much better.) If you are angry with your spouse, consider the gift of forgiveness, which benefits your marriage, and also helps keep you from having poor emotional and physical health. It’s a gift for the giver and the receiver. Reconciliation and rebuilding a marriage takes commitment and hard work, but forgiveness is an important first step.

Consider that divorce may  not answer any questions or solve any problems; it just may create more of the same or even worse problems than you had before. Think instead about why you chose your spouse, and why you fell in love with him or her. Focus on being grateful for the best parts of your marriage and your spouse and how the two of you can be unified against your current challenges. Share your dreams for a better future, one that you’ll share together.

Note: First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage will be released December 8, 2011 on Amazon.com. Please follow the Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/LastingBliss and check out details at www.LoriDLowe.com. Thank you.

LINK:

Photo by David Castillo Dominici courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Sweat the Small Stuff in Your Marriage to Prevent Divorce

Most divorces are not the result of major conflicts, but rather the slow erosion of your marriage. You think your marriage is fine because nothing major has happened, but you’re drifting apart. Wake up, and turn the tide.

Rather than a major tipping point that causes a rift in the marriage, many couples simply lose touch with each other, says Edward M. Hallowell, co-author of Married to Distraction: How to Restore Intimacy and Strenghten Your Partnership in an Age of Interruption. “The ambient noise of life takes over,” he says, adding that couples lose the fun and moments of sustained attention because they are surrounded by stimuli.

Research shows two-thirds of divorces result from low-conflict marriages. In other words, it’s the small stuff that can destroy your relationship and get between you and a great life together.

What stimuli might be causing chaos or interruptions in your life? Is it the hectic pace of life? The intrusion of technology? Is it the sometimes overwhelming nature of child-rearing or over-involvement in extracurricular activities? Is it unfulfilled dreams?

The good news, say the experts, is that low-conflict problems are “highly solveable” compared with affairs, addictions or huge financial debt. However, if ignored, the drudgery of life can be very damaging to your relationship.

“There are a lot of marriages of quiet desperation that just drag on and on until they end in divorce,” says Pamela Haag, author of Marriage Confidential. However, she adds that many marriages can survive if the partners are willing to be flexible and sometimes imaginative with solutions.

“The first step is to have the difficult conversation and actually hazard some honesty with your partner,” she explains. Rather than focusing on how to “stick it out” in marriage, determine how you can change your lives so that you can thrive in your marriage.

Source: Miami Herald

Note: I’m excited to announce that First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage will be released December 8, 2011. Please follow the Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/LastingBliss and check out details at www.LoriDLowe.com. Thank you.

LINK:
Divorce Rate Linked to Education & Race

Photo by Suat Eman courtesty of www.Freedigitalphotos.net.

Why are Women Less Happy than Men in Marriage?

Men are generally happier in their marriages than women are. A survey of men taken by the Chicago Sun-Times showed 78 percent of men would remarry their wives. Another survey by Women’s Day Magazine showed only half of women would choose to remarry their husbands.

Why do you there is such a wide disparity? Some may say it’s because women do more of the work at home and increasingly bring in a second income for the family. Some experts believe that men experience fulfillment more easily than women. Women, on the other hand, have high expectations and romantic inclinations.

Mark Gungor, speaker and author of Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage writes that he used to put the blame on men’s shoulders for thoughtless or insensitive. However, he says women file for 80 percent of all divorces and are usually the ones frustrated with the relationship, the disappointed ones. He writes that women’s unrealistic expectations are often responsible for divorce, not inept men.

I’ll say I agree up to a point. Just because a man is happy with the situation doesn’t mean that it’s a positive environment for his wife. However, I will agree that I as a wife have struggled with having unrealistic expectations, and I know other wives do as well. Despite having excellent husbands, we sometimes wish life were a little more romantic. And, truth be told, we wish our husbands could read our minds and know (and fulfill) our deepest longings.

I also agree that women look to their husband to meet too many of their needs, especially with family often living at a distance. While generations ago, women lived and worked together and supported one another, today’s families are much more isolated. So, we expect our husbands to be our confidants, our lovers, our best friends, our emotional supports, and more. We also want them to be good providers and share the workload at home.

Our spouse shouldn’t be expected to meet all of our needs, and he or she cannot be our source of hope or happiness.

“A successful marriage is possible only when two complete and happy people get together for the purpose of building a life together. They do not need the other to be truly happy, complete or emotionally whole,” says Gungor.

This is where I wholeheartedly agree. Yes, men need to feel respected, and women need to feel loved. We need to express our needs and our feelings to our spouse, but we also need to be responsible for creating our own fulfilled and joy-filled lives.

For a better perspective on this, read What if Today Were Your Last Day With Your Spouse; Patty Newbold learns the hard way about dropping unnecessary expectations. Also, check out What Do You Expect From Your Marriage and Mate, especially if you feel life and marriage for you hasn’t been entirely fair lately for you.

LINKS:
Read from the Washington Post about how delaying divorce can save marriages, and how new legislation may be coming to your state. It’s a very interesting proposal by two well-qualified individuals.

Photo by Photostock courtesty of freedigitalphotos.net

Best Advice from Readers: 19 Great Marriage Tips

A couple of weeks ago as I celebrated my 16th wedding anniversary with a Happy Anniversary to me post, I asked you to share one great marriage tip. Thanks for coming through with some wonderful advice. I decided to collect all the reader comments for you:

1. Remember that no couple is perfect and that every married couple has problems. What makes or breaks your marriage is how you confront problems, communicate about them and ultimately work through them.
2. Our marriages are reflections of God’s love for His church, and every choice, every thought, and how we deal with conflict matters. Our marriage tip is pay attention to whom you worship – if it’s God you will grow all the more closer to Him and each other. If you’re worshiping self or your marriage, it will only grow increasingly more difficult because God is a jealous God. As your love grows vertically it will certainly grow horizontally.
3. Learn to take delight in delighting your wife or husband.
4. Marriage is not only between the couple, but it involves two families, which can be very complicated. We learned a lot through the process, and we have been changed and grown up a lot.
5. Simply spend a little time each day focused ONLY on each other. This sounds easy, but it can be really difficult in the high-paced and distraction-filled times we live in. If you spend 15 minutes each day simply being a couple, your marriage will be blessed incredibly!
6. Stay connected to one another physically, emotionally and spiritually no matter what else is going on in your lives.
7. One key is mutuality. Spouses need to fully participate with one another in experiencing intimacy, paying attention to the other’s needs, desires, and value.
8. Keep a good sense of humor, keep your promises…never let go. Hang in there even when you don’t feel like it. And when you are mad as mad can be, think of your three favorite things about your husband/wife that makes you smile. Or at least something s/he said or did lately that was funny.
9. Do everything in your power to communicate unconditional love and acceptance to your spouse, making especially sure to show affection and speak approval whether you feel like it or not.
10. Spend money on your marriage – after 45 years of marriage – what fun we’ve had!
11. Remember that only YOU can make you happy. Always respect your husband, and respect yourself.
12. Mutual respect and compassion is the key to everything!
13. Nurture your friendship with your spouse. Spend time together. Ask for each other’s opinion. Extend grace. Hug. Listen. Share. Fight fair. Laugh together. Support each other’s interests. When a married couple authentically are friends with each other, so many positive results flow out of this (including great sex).
14. Be willing to grow and to let your spouse grow. Marriage is organic; it must be nourished. And its members may grow at different rates. The good news is that they ARE growing.
15. Which tape/CD are you going to listen to? Are you going to focus or dwell on the way your spouse annoys you, or are you going to focus on the positives, the many ways they bless you? I firmly believe it is a choice. We see what we want to see in each other.
16. Some of our most memorable ‘dates’ are very simple. We have a better time just hanging out on the patio with a bottle of wine versus spending a small fortune in a stuffy restaurant!
17. Write a note or card detailing what first excited you about each other when you met. Post it on the refrigerator. Refer to it often.
18. Marriage always gets better if you hang on, and the best is yet to come.

And one bonus tip from me, in gratitude for all your advice: Remember that love is a choice, not a feeling. Our feelings change with our mood and our circumstances, but our actions and attitudes speak volumes. When we act lovingly, we begin to feel more in love.

I am thankful for all the love and joy in my life, and I wish you all more of the same!

What is your favorite marriage tip?

Photo by photostock courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Have an Affair with Your Spouse

As a follow up to Are You Jealous of Your Friend’s Divorce?, I said I would offer some research-based advice to make your marriage exciting and satisfying so that you wouldn’t be tempted by other options outside your marriage. So here are some tips with further reading:

Plan New, Exciting Activities
I’ve said it before, married life isn’t dull, or at least it doesn’t need to be. Two interesting people will lead and interesting life together. It may take a nudge to get us out of our comfort zones on occasion, but don’t be afraid to make a change, try something new, learn a new skill, volunteer together, etc. Read Choose Exciting Over Pleasant Activities to Boost Marriage, then along with your spouse make a list of things you would each like to do that are exciting. Rate each activity 1-10 for pleasantness and excitement. Find something that you both find moderately pleasant but high on the excitement scale. Then, put it on the calendar and make it happen.

Shun Boredom Both In and Out of the Bedroom
Read Banish Boredom from the Bedroom with 7 useful tips from the author of Hot Monogamy, Patricia Love. Boredom outside of the bedroom can be just as deadly. Research shows conflict isn’t the only cause of divorce; boredom can kill a marriage. Being bored reduces closeness and slowly decreases marital satisfaction. Find shared fun activities and new adventures to keep your relationship exciting. Research shows that if partners experience excitement from other sources (such as participating in new, challenging activities together), this shared experience can reignite the passion in your marriage!

Keep Romance Alive
Read 7 Ways to Create Sparks Every Day for tips on keeping those romantic flames burning.

Bottom Line
If you can only focus on one thing, spend more dedicated, quality time with your spouse. Remember why you fell in love and focus on those positive attributes.

What are your biggest challenges in keeping your relationship fun, interesting and exciting? Most people will say time is their biggest challenge. Make your marriage a top priority if you would like to increase your happiness in love and life.

Photo by savit keaw tavee courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

How to Make Everyday Marriage Feel More Romantic

I’m the first to admit everyday marriage can lose its luster. Monday mornings are particularly difficult for most families. We have all our “have-to-dos” running through our minds. We’re lucky to spare a second for a brief peck on the cheek.

Here are a six ways to make your week feel more romantic.

  1. Leave a small note for your spouse somewhere they will find it during the work day (in their brief case, on the washing machine door, on the bathroom mirror). You can just say, “Love you” or you can say you enjoyed the weekend, or thank them for any small thing. Or, go the extra mile and make or buy a card and either mail it to your honey or leave it for them. If you’re very short on time, at least send a text or email.
  2. Make plans to have some time to connect during the week. Can you have a short lunch together? Or have a drink on the patio after the kids are in bed? Fit something into your schedule to talk about something other than how to manage your schedules.
  3. Ask for what would please you. Even though we often perceive that our spouse knows what we are thinking after all this time together, it’s not true. If you want to go out more, or if you need a little down time after you come home for work, or if you’d like to be surprised more, or have him bring home chocolate, share this gently with your partner while you’re having quiet time. (Don’t snap about it after getting into an argument over who was supposed to empty the dishwasher.)
  4. Touch more. The U.S. is very unaffectionate compared to other cultures. Many families are also very non-touchy. But research shows couples (or even friends or sports teams) are strengthened by more touching. Make an extra effort to give a touch, a hug, a kiss, a pat or any kind of affection throughout the day, not just as a precursor to making love. How many times did you touch yesterday?
  5. Plan something soon you can both look forward to—a visit to a new museum or restaurant, snuggling to watch football on Sunday, or going on a bike ride together after work one evening. It’s great if you also have something more long-term, like a vacation getaway, to look forward to. Having something positive on the agenda helps you on those Monday mornings when things are feeling way too hectic.
  6. Think positive, grateful thoughts about your spouse even when you can’t be together. When you’re stuck in an endless meeting, or driving carpool, or waiting at the doctor’s office, think positive thoughts or say a prayer for your spouse. Positivity and gratefulness (as well as prayer) have all been shown in research to benefit relationships.

It’s so easy to let the busyness of life push the priority of our marriage down. But tiny investments in time and attention can pay dividends.

Photo by photostock courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net.