These couples therapists save relationships - not just for clients, but for their pals who need help too. Now they're giving you their free, no-filter tips for a good marriage. By Sunny Sea Gold, REDBOOK.
1. Your weight may be a problem, but not the way you think.
"A girlfriend admitted to me that she's been really uncomfortable with her body recently, and it's affecting her sex life. She said, 'I can't get over how big my stomach feels, and when I'm in certain positions, all I can think about is how many rolls I have.' I asked her if there was anything she does like about her body. At first she said no, but when I pushed her, she said she liked her hands, her eyes, and her breasts. So I told her to try to focus on those positive things while having sex rather than on the negative, and ultimately to try to get out of her head and into her body. Because, trust me, he is not focusing on your stomach-he's just happy to be getting laid!" -Rachel Needle, Psy.D., a psychologist at the Center for Marital and Sexual Health of South Florida
2. Treat your body as well as you'd treat his.
"I have a friend who had been outright lying to her husband about smoking for half a year. She told him she'd quit, but instead she started carrying around a small bottle of mouthwash to rinse with and a rubber glove to put on when she smoked so the smell wouldn't get on her hands. Of course he did finally catch her, and he was furious. She promised again that she'd quit-but still didn't. She truly didn't see that continuing to smoke meant she was choosing her love for cigarettes over her husband, and I told her that she was so addicted she needed to bring in every professional she could to get over it. She's working with a specialist now, as well as an acupuncturist for stress relief, and she's been smoke-free for a month. She says she's thinking of how much she loves her husband every time she wants to smoke, and it has been successful for now. When you ignore your own health, you're also ignoring the health of your marriage." -Bill Farr, a relationship coach and author of The Power of Personality Types in Love and Relationships
Related: Your One-Month Plan to a Closer, More Loving Relationship
3. You're being sexist-and it's keeping you from being happy.
"A friend of mine was married to a guy who was very supportive, a great father-but completely incapable of holding down a steady job. She was at the end of her rope, and they were fighting all the time. My friend hadn't worked in years, since she had kids, but she was a very competent and organized person, so I recommended that she pursue a career and let him be the househusband. That was clearly what he was good at! It was a great solution. She found a job she loved, made the money, and he handled the kids and home. Once she got over her gender hang-ups, it clicked." -Toni Coleman, a psychotherapist and relationship coach in McLean, VA
4. Let. It. Go.
"A friend and his wife had gone through a terrible time-he had been unfaithful, but they'd worked through it, stayed together, and had another baby. But every time I saw them, she'd throw out sarcastic comments about his past. She would belittle him and make disparaging remarks at every opportunity. One night, after a particularly bad episode, I told her that she was wrecking her marriage. I said, 'Yes, he cheated, and of course you were brokenhearted. But you decided to give it another go, and to constantly remind him of how much pain he caused, especially in front of others, is a divorce waiting to happen. This time you're the one doing the damage to the marriage. Whatever is in the past, leave it there-all that matters is the present and the future you're trying to build.' People say, once a cheater, always a cheater, but I disagree: I think cheating is a choice. She decided to give him a chance, and he chose to be a decent husband." -Rochelle Peachey, Psy.D., a couples therapist and founder of her own online dating site, iloveyouraccent.com.
Related: 25 Greatest, All-American Dates
5. That "perfect" couple is far from it- don't be jealous!
"Envy between couples comes up a lot. It's all about: Who has the most expensive house? Who goes on the coolest vacations? Whose kids are smartest and most athletic? I recently reminded a friend with serious marriage envy that things are never what they appear-everyone has some issue they deal with. I told her I see couples in my practice all the time who outwardly have porcelain-smooth lives but in fact are dealing with really tough issues, like infidelity or sexual dysfunction, that folks around them don't have a clue about." -Toni Coleman
6. Stop renting movies on date night.
"A pal complained to me that her marriage was becoming boring, and she was worried she and her husband were 'turning into their parents.' I thought she should surprise him with something. She seemed too resentful to take initiative, because he wasn't doing anything for her, so I suggested she do it just to have more fun. On their first date night, she took him out for drinks after dinner at a place far too loud and exciting for their parents. They both had a blast, and date night is going strong again." -Bill Farr
Related: The 10 Phrases That Make Men Go Ballistic
7. Being "in the mood" is overrated.
"Just yesterday, a good friend called me and was talking about having no interest in sex since the birth of her last child. She said she was too busy, stressed, and tired. What I said to her was to just do it! Our sexual desire waxes and wanes at different times in our lives, and sometimes we have to make a conscious effort to be intimate with our partner. If you sit around and wait to be suddenly in the mood, it could take forever. In the meantime, you and your husband are pleasure-starved and not having any fun. I asked her to take a chance and just say yes the next time he tried to initiate sex, even if she didn't feel like it. I knew once things got started she would enjoy herself-and she did." -Rachel Needle
8. A simple "good morning" can rescue a marriage.
"A friend of mine and her husband had not really spoken in several years-yes, I said years! Literally hadn't said much more than 'yes' or 'no' to each other in a very long time. They lived in the same house, but their relationship had all but ceased to exist, so he brought up divorce. That's not what either of them wanted deep down, but they had fallen into a hole and felt hopeless about ever finding a way out. I offered my friend some very simple advice: that she immediately start to take small steps toward reconciliation, like offering a smile and a 'Good morning' when they woke up every day, bringing him a cup of coffee, giving him a gentle touch just because-basically finding little ways to be positive in her interactions with him. It didn't happen overnight, but in time he started to open himself up to her and treat her better too. Now, several years later, they're in a brand-new relationship-with each other!" -Toni Coleman
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