The holiday season is the time of year that things turn romantic. If that’s not happening in your relationship, consider these habits that either kill or build your marriage. Then begin to contemplate how you might change things as you move into the new year.

How to Kill Your Marriage

  1. Don’t talk about things that you think will create argument or conflict. Unresolved issues will simply grow to be insurmountable.
  2. Lie or just “withhold information” if necessary to avoid revealing information that might be “difficult to explain.”
  3. Exclude your spouse from what’s going on in your 40- to 80-hour work week and expect them just to “understand” and “go with it” long term.
  4. Do not say good morning or good night. Toss common courtesy aside.
  5. Do not get up or go to bed at the same time as your partner does. Your physical absence speaks volumes.
  6. Poke “fun” at your spouse—particularly in sensitive spots.
  7. Pay more attention to the needs of your kids, parents, or friends than the needs of your spouse.
  8. Demand that your needs be met first and foremost despite what other emergencies may be going on in the family during any specific time. A me-first attitude always adds more tension and stress.
  9. Flirt with others of the opposite sex besides your spouse.
  10. Pay no attention to maintaining an attractive and healthy appearance. Your grooming communicates your attitude about the relationship.

How to Build a Strong Marriage

  1. “Check in” frequently (text, calls, emails, IM) just to let the other know you’re thinking of them and to share what’s happening with you.
  2. Take vacations and long-weekends together throughout the year to refresh.
  3. Write short love notes frequently. Send small gifts to each other occasionally.
  4. Plan and go on weekly “dates” like before you married. Talk about mutual interests and fun things.
  5. Listen intently. Ask questions. Show interest. Understand the real message behind the words.
  6. Allow your partner time to enjoy personal interests without feeling “hurt” or begrudging the time.
  7. Participate together in activities that you both enjoy. Doing so communicates interest in the relationship.
  8. Affirm the other’s appearance, skills, contributions, character, accomplishments, and successes.
  9. Flirt with your spouse.
  10. Have a great sense of humor about your partner’s and your own foibles.

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