Um. For a start. Don’t ask me. I didn’t manage to avoid divorce. But there were probably things we could have done better – even though we had a very young family it’s still important to try to make time for each other.
This is vital. Talk openly and honestly. With any luck you are friends first and foremost so don’t forget that. You should respect each other and discuss everything so that you can make the necessary changes when required. Make sure you discuss emotions as well as facts. Go out for dinner once a week to do this if it doesn’t happen naturally.
Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I would say that in general men would prefer to have more sex with their wives, whilst women would prefer a lot more touchy feely stuff to go on pre-sex. They don’t just want to be touched three seconds prior to full blown sex, they want kisses on their neck whilst playing with their children, sitting at their desk, doing the washing up or cooking, they want their hands held on the way to the supermarket, the cinema, the wherever. If men do that? Women are more likely to feel like sex later….
3. TIME TOGETHER
This is important – time together as a couple – not just when you’re all on holiday as a family because that can be massively stressful for other reasons. Those couples that make the time and effort to be on their own without the children tend to work better together – it goes without saying that if you are both making the effort to spend time together it probably means that you enjoy it and it’s important. Even if it’s a walk or a quick drink in the pub or a stroll around a museum. Shared experiences are always a good thing and NOT just with the kids.
4. TIME APART
This is important too – having your own friends is a very good thing. You don’t have to merge your life fully into each others in every aspect. Girls need their friends. So do boys. Don’t resent this. It isn’t very easy to find other couples that you get on with but when you find them – go for it – great to have other friends to play with during your marriage that work for both of you.
5. BUT NOT TOO MUCH TIME APART
You know all those things you used to do before you were married? Travelling? Long all day sporting activities? Reading the paper all day? These have to change for a minute. You can’t expect to get away with those things any more. Find sports that only take an hour. Plan to do things in the future when the kids have left home. Plan to do those things with your partner instead. You can’t be too selfish. It’s not fair. Your life has changed. Go with it.
Share the cooking, the washing up, the shopping, the house planning, the kids, the work. If you have an extreme imbalance – like one goes to work whilst the other stays at home that is a good thing on loads of levels, but maybe only for a finite period of time – it can cause massive rifts if it lasts for too long because neither of you recognise each other’s life anymore.
7. LAUGH TOGETHER
This is of huge importance – if you get all the above right you are well on your way to feeling happy about your relationship and not resentful
I’m sorry – this isn’t very grown up of me but I really do believe in presents. Buying thoughtful things for your partner is of huge importance I think. Again, it doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to be right. It means you’re thinking of them when they’re not there. Essential.
For godsake have interests that other people want to hear about – so that you have stuff to talk about when out. If you decide not to take up the guitar or go to every festival this year then make sure you read stuff and keep learning – don’t let your mind get stuck in a decade – listen to your kids, learn from them but if you don’t have children then do classes, watch Youtube videos, get out and about. Life is still there for living and learning and loving.
10. MAKE IT FUN!!
Please enjoy it. What’s the point otherwise? If you’ve married for love and it’s gone a bit wrong in the middle then ask yourself this question –
“Where do I see myself in five years time?” Strive for that. Hopefully you will see yourself happy with your partner in that amount of time – if you’re not happy but your partner is still in your vision then go and find a way to make yourself and more importantly your partner happy – even if it requires moving house, location, country, whatever it takes to make it work better for both of you (although be cautious about that moving whole families somewhere new – it can make things worse if your marriage isn’t strong enough)
If you have children then how old are they? If they’re not very old then I’m not very surprised you’re reading this – it’s bloody hard work looking and you probably don’t like your partner very much a lot of the time. Don’t give up. Rearing kids is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Don’t do anything drastic or fuck up before your youngest child is five. It’s too easy to find excuses as to why your marriage isn’t working during that time. Get over it. Pull together, not apart.
Oh and please don’t have an affair – they never work.