Allow us to crib from one of the greats: Ask not what your marriage can do for you; ask what you can do for your marriage. By Lauren Le Vine, REDBOOK.
Couple1. Does my husband know he's important to me?
When you were dating, you showered your guy in attention, which made him feel special and loved. Now that kids, work, and life are in the way, does your spouse know he's still a top priority? "Men often feel like second-class citizens, even in their own homes," says Dr. Shoshana Bennett, a clinical psychologist. "Simple things like hanging up the phone with your friend when he gets home and greeting him with a smile goes a very long way."
"Wives often complain about their husbands not being romantic and not treating them as desirable, sexy women," Bennett says. Make sure he sees the distinction among the different roles you play: You're a fantastic mom, but you're also the juicy, inviting woman he married and can't wait get in bed with at night.
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Marriage may be a partnership, but the most successful unions are a combination of two distinct personalities. "Marriage isn't meant to fulfill every need-the healthiest marriages involve each partner continuing their separate passions," says Bennett. Patty Brisben, Founder and Chariwoman of Pure Romance, adds that taking time for your own interests will strengthen your relationship. "It's great being around people that are enthusiastic and positive; it's contagious," she says. Don't be afraid to spend time alone cultivating your own interests.
4. Do I communicate what I want to my husband without attacking him or complaining?
The nagging wife is an all too common trope on sitcoms, and it's a shame when the stereotype is perpetuated in real life. Break the mold! Instead of pointing out all the ways your husband isn't making you happy, do the opposite. Tell him what you love and appreciate in a clear and kind way. He wants to please you; he just needs some positive reinforcement, Bennett says.
5. Does my health regimen support my moods in a positive way?
Your diet and exercise routine can have a major effect on what we call-for lack of a better term-your "grump factor." When you feel better internally, you'll subconsciously start handling frustrating marriage road bumps with aplomb. Try these feel-good tips from Shoshana Bennett: "Nibble protein every three to four hours to help keep your moods stable, and swap some simple carbs for complex ones-this combination can raise your serotonin. Stay well hydrated to curb anxiety and ask your doctor to suggest multivitamin and omega-3 fish oil. Add in exercise, and the feel-good chemicals will be an extra bonus to your marriage."
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6. Do I enjoy my sex life?
If the first answer that popped into your head after you read that question was something along the lines of, "It's fine," Patty Brisben wants you to reconsider: "Fine? No, no. I want them to be shouting from the rooftop that it's great! It's easy to get into a sex routine that can eventually lead to a sex rut. Make a point to communicate your desires to each other and to experiment. Ask your partner to explain one of their fantasies and then try it together." Need some ideas? Try one of these 10 ways to have Fifty Shades of Grey sex tonight.
7. Do I set my husband up for failure?
If you want your husband to go to the store and pick up eggs and milk, don't "forget" to mention the eggs just to have something to pout about later. Sending him on thankless missions for your own entertainment will only build resentment and make him feel like he just can't win. "Don't omit information that your husband needs in order to successfully complete a task. Whether you're doing this consciously or not, apologize for not being thorough and realize that when you support your husband's success, you'll be happier too," Bennett says. Always remember: "This isn't a competition-you're on the same side."
8. What am I most envious of when I look at my friends' marriages?
It's perfectly natural to assess the state of your friends' marriages-and even compare them to yours. Brisben recommends using other happy couples as inspiration. "[Do] your friends always seem to be taking a new class together or finding a new sport to try out over the weekend? Then plan an adventurous activity yourself! Why not try rock climbing or take a cooking class? You'll love the feeling of accomplishing something new together, plus it's just fun!" Trying new activities is also a great way to branch out and make new couples friends.
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9. What activities do I enjoy doing together as a couple? What activities do we enjoy doing together as a couple?
Obviously, relationships are about give and take. You go to ballgames with him, and he goes shopping with you. Nevertheless, this shouldn't always be the case. "When planning activities together, it's important to ask these two questions and find things that you both enjoy," Brisbane says. "It all comes down to communication and making a point to ask for the other's opinion."
10. How do I know if we should seek marriage counseling?
"If you can resolve issues without one or both of you becoming defensive, you're probably doing fine," Bennett advises. "On the other hand, if things get heated or you speak to each other disrespectfully, find an objective professional to help you get back on track."
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