It's amazing that the divorce rate in the United States is estimated at 50%. It's actually pretty sad too. People are so quick to just exit out of a relationship without even trying. But here's a theory - how about learning to keep things happy before problems arise, learning small everyday things that can keep little stresses away? Isn't that a novel idea? I thought so, which is why I created this list of items that have helped me personally. I'm not saying that I have the fairytale relationship but after 13 years I have learned that the small yet simple gestures seem work well.
1. Communicate-not just about your feelings- but about your day. Share stories with one another about what is going on at work or in a friend's life; share what you saw on the news or in a magazine with your significant other if you found it interesting. Discussing regular day to day occurrences is just as important as staying in tune with each others' feelings. It keeps you in tune with your spouse on a daily basis.
2. Take showers together- it doesn't have to be sexual! My husband and I have done this from the beginning of our relationship, did it start out sexual? Probably. But over time it became an intimate thing, just extra time that we can spend together catching up on the day- it just happens that we are naked and in the shower!
3. Go to the park and swing, slide or just play-it's a young and fun thing to do. It keeps you playful and is a great way to relieve stress. Real life can get so with overwhelming with work, kids, bills, laundry, chores- sometimes a play break is what's needed to alleviate all of that, even if it's only for half an hour.
4. Take walks-morning walks are a great way to start your day, not a morning person? Take an evening walk. Getting fresh air and exercise together is good for your health and the health of your relationship. Walking relieves stress, keeps you fit and allows quality time to be spent together.
5. Date nights-put everything on hold for an hour or two and plan on just doing something alone with your spouse. It can be dinner, a walk, the mall, whatever, just make the time for just the two of you with no one else around, catch up on your day or week or just joke around and have fun. But making time for just the two of you is important.
6. Play video games or wrestle-a healthy dose of competition is always good and it can be an entertaining way to not only have fun but a great stress buster as well. Just don't take it too seriously and be a sore loser because that would defeat the whole purpose.
7. Have sex-even if you don't want to, you need to keep the sexual chemistry between you and your significant other alive. Being intimate and showing your love for one another is a significant part of your union.
8. Hold hands- it may seem insignificant; however, this small but intimate gesture shows that you care about each other even when you are doing something simple like walking from the car to the grocery store.
9. Give praise-telling your significant other that they are great at something can be a huge ego boost. It shows that you care and that you pay attention and like the way he/she does something. It's always nice to know that your spouse appreciates the things you do and the way you do them.
10. Be thankful-a simple thank you for taking the trash out, taking the kids to school, fixing that faucet or simply being a great spouse goes a long way. Letting someone know that you are thankful for what they do means a lot.
11. Have time apart-couples don't need to spend 24/7 together. Spending time away with the girls or the guys makes you appreciate one another. Have your own lives apart from one another. Schedule dinners or mini vacations if you can to keep up with friends.
12. Don't always nag-if you start nagging too much you will create resentment. Reminding someone of something a few times is one thing but becoming obnoxious about it will produce hostility and that's not the outcome that you are looking for. Take a different approach, ask nicely, explain what you need done and by when. The nicer you are the better.
13. Share advice-you never know when great, unexpected advice can come about. My husband and I work in two totally different professions yet we manage to swap advice on work all the time. The advice does not have to be work related, it can be about the kids, the chores, money management, it doesn't matter, be open to sharing different ideas.
14. Pick and choose your battles-Over the years I have learned that life is short and arguments are lame. Now I only get mad at things that I feel are truly important. I've learned to pick and choose my battles. Everyone will have that one battle that they choose to fight, just choose it carefully. Just think "is this really worth getting mad about? Will I still be mad about it this tomorrow morning? Will I even remember this next week?" Most of the time the answer is no. I've learned that this approach makes for a healthier and happier relationship and definitely causes less stress.