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Bring On Date Night & 11 Other Good Marriage Tips

June 9, 2010

Photo: Time

   Al and Tipper Gore sent nervous shockwaves through every inch of couple dome with their announcement that after 40 years of marriage they are splitting. If an adorable, likeable and internationally recognizable couple that has seemingly everything in the world at their feet can’t stand being together after 40 years of marriage then what chance do the rest of us have of living out our life with a soul mate?

We want to have a good life and live happily ever after too. The reactions reported from marriage experts to people on the street are steady news. When the news hit, however, it felt like my favorite aunt and uncle just dropped the bomb.

My gut reaction was that they just slowly drifted apart. Business, travel, dinners away, separates hobbies, a life of work and philanthropy that became bigger than your personal life. It happens. The drifting is easy. Working hard to keep a marriage together isn’t.

I’ve been through this before. After 20 years together my first marriage ended. Every ending is a horrible nightmare. Looking back there was a long list of issues: Some probably couldn’t have been fixed, but a bunch that could have. We’ve owned up to our mistakes, at least quietly to each other. The best thing that we could do was to set a better example for our children going forward and try mightily to never make those same mistakes twice. (For the record, that’s a tall order) We’ve both since remarried.

My husband is the sun that rises and sets for me and I let him know it every day.

Every single day for six years, I have been hopelessly, helplessly madly in love with my husband Rick. He is the first person I want to talk to in the morning and the man I want to go to bed with every night. This honeymoon hasn’t quieted down, no matter how busy we become. Six years. No arguments. Nor hissing. Not even a stink eye. I still walk into a room and fall in love with the way he smiles at me.

Here are our rules to avoid the marriage drift. They work for us. Maybe the Gores forgot this:

  1. No work talk in the bedroom.
  2. If something bothers us about the other we have to talk it out immediately and completely.
  3. Bring On Date Night. This is a command performance, even if we don’t go out. Just pay attention to each other. I love when my husband plays the guitar, especially when he’s songwriting. He’s happy. I’m happy.
  4. Talk together.
  5. More importantly, listen. One can not know or remember interests that are important to your partner if you don’t listen.  
  6. Do something together. I don’t care if it’s cleaning the house, golfing, yard work, dinner with friends, a walk around the block, coffee hour or hosting a Date Night Throwdown in the kitchen. (We might try the last idea next).
  7. Have a sense of humor. Laughter makes you younger. Arguing doesn’t.
  8. Do something simple to make your partner happy. If they like it, do it again. Etch their reaction into your memory.
  9. Reinvent WOW! Maybe it’s time to figure out what behind-closed-doors naughty means in your home. I’m just saying maybe it’s time to do something new. Get sexy.
  10. Respect your partner. If you don’t then you’re done.
  11. Don’t take anything good about your relationship for granted. Don’t wait for tomorrow, next year, or eventually to let them know. My second grade Sunday school teacher told me every time I leave the dinner table to get up, kiss my mother and say thank you. It’s amazing how far a tiny bit of gracious communication goes.
  12. Dream together. In the rush through our daily lives, this one is easy to let go. Every night we try to tell each other one wish and one  wonder. Fill in the blanks: I wish…I wonder…It forces us to dream together.

 I’m no therapist and this list is no guarantee for happily ever after, but these create moments that matter. Together they build rather than chip away at a relationship.

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