Marriage Boot Camp, a four-day retreat offered in a few places around the country, has acquired a real rep for saving relationships: "Eighty percent of the couples who file for divorce before coming to us stay together," says program director David Bishop.
But you don't have to be near breakup to benefit from the boot camp's smart lessons:
1. Think of your marriage as a joint bank account. You both have to make deposits "by doing or saying loving things," Bishop says. The key is to be specific about what makes each of you feel loved. Instead of asking for more affection, ask him to hold your hand more or to always kiss you before bed. "The gestures will feel meaningful, and you'll want to do something for him in return."
2. Nix finger-pointing. Blaming causes the other person to get defensive. So the next time your partner does something that bothers you, say, "'When you did this, it made me feel like this,'" advises Bishop. "It's not accusatory, and it lets your spouse know why a behavior hurts you. That understanding helps resolve things."
Related: The 18 Most Annoying Male Habits Explained
3. Try an extreme exercise. Bishop calls it "playing Titanic." Imagine you're on a sinking boat with only one life preserver - who should take it? "It usually turns out both people want to make the sacrifice," he says. "That's when we ask, 'If you're willing to die for each other, why are you letting petty things come between you?' By the end, everyone is hugging and crying. It's powerful stuff." --NICOLE YORIO
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.