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15 Ways to Make Your Marriage a Winner

By HealthLife Contributor
Updated: August 23, 2008
Most of us would not think of driving our car day after day without taking time to check the oil, renew the registration and insurance and especially put gas in the tank. When it comes to our closest relationships; however, it's all too easy to ignore the fact that they too have specific maintenance needs, until things start to fall apart. But ongoing acts of care with a spouse can prevent costly relationships breakdowns later on. Here are some important points to consider:

1. Express gratitude. Feeling thankful for what your spouse does, and what they mean to you, is a good start. Yet taking the extra 10 seconds to say the actual words "thank you" goes a long way towards helping your spouse feel appreciated.

2. Reminisce. When your lives or relationship are going through a rough spot it can be difficult to remember all the good times you've had together. However, this is when reviewing those times is actually most important. Think and talk about when you first met, when you first realized you were in love and other significant milestones in your life together.

3. Celebrate small victories. We usually remember to make a fuss over the big endeavors, such as a promotion or a degree obtained. However, we each have daily accomplishments (such as writing a difficult email) that require our perseverance. Make sure your spouse knows how proud you are of each of those that they accomplish.

4. Be on the lookout for thoughtful ways to contribute to your spouse's happiness. Notice where a partner's day seems to be particularly rough and figure out how you might smooth it out for them with a helpful gesture or kind word.

5. Cultivate radical honesty. It's easy to slip into patterns of tiny untruths or omissions but these erode away at the trust you and your partner have worked hard to build. Telling the truth even when it's difficult to do so is a valuable and essential gift.
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6. Plan romance. The gestures can be grand, like two dozen roses for no reason or they can be more every day gestures, such as appreciative notes stuffed in the sock drawer. The key is making the effort to cultivate the romantic feelings between you.

7. Pray together. Although much discord in relationships comes from differing views on spirituality and religious practice, if you have areas in which you share a common vision, take advantage of that fact to strengthen your ties.

8. Play together. Although it is important to maintain separate activities so that each person in the relationship is still able to cultivate their own individuality, it's important to share at least one leisure time interest. The activity doesn't have to be complicated or involve other people; it can be as simple as enjoying the Sunday newspaper together in bed!

9. Listen. Often the people closest to us do not want our constant advice, feedback or brilliant wisdom. More often, they want our attentive quiet and a chance to vent about their difficulties and hard days.

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