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189 - 10 New Year's Resolutions for Your Marriage

189 - 10 New Year's Resolutions for Your Marriage Image

03/25/2021 3:30 pm

Once a quarter, Leh and Todd like to dedicate a show to marriages. From seeing 1000's of failed marriages, they learn many things not to do in marriage as well as things you should do to help build a healthy, happy marriage. In today's show, they pull together 10 new years resolutions to help build a healthy marriage in 2021. They assembled ideas from different counselors, authors, and psychologists and put them into a short list of action items for 2021 to strive for.

Transcript

Leh Meriwether: Welcome everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether and with me is Todd Orston. We are your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the divorce and family law firm of Meriwether & Tharp. Here you'll learn about divorce, family law, and from time to time, even tips on how to save your marriage if it's in the middle of a crisis. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at atlantadivorceteam.com. I'm doing great. How are you doing?

Todd Orston: I'm good. I'm doing well. Yeah. Yeah, I have to think about it but sure. Absolutely. I'm going to stay positive. How about that?

Leh Meriwether: Good. Because-

Todd Orston: Today is going to be a positive show.

Leh Meriwether: Yay. That was the crowd.

Todd Orston: Oh, okay.

Leh Meriwether: And the crowd goes wild. Oh, well, we kind of fell off the pace last year. I mean, we did a few shows but we try to do at least once a quarter a positive show about helping to save your marriage or taking your marriage to the next level because at the end of the day, even though divorce is what we do, we still don't like divorce. We know it's a part of... It's something that's existed really since the inception of marriage. If you go back and look at your history, you can see it going back for centuries, the issue of divorce. So we know it's something that's real but also that there are things you can do to help avoid it. And so today's episode, we're going to combine the whole new year because a lot of people like to think about starting at afresh, anew in the new year and so we want to focus on, 10 New Year's resolutions for your marriage.

Todd Orston: That sounds great. I mean, look, doing what we do, we see patterns. And we see patterns in the divorce, right? We see things that... in a divorce, how people act and react. But we also see patterns in terms of things that led people to a divorce. Sometimes it's unavoidable, the divorce, I mean. Sometimes the breakup of that relationship is unavoidable. Substance abuse issues, abuse issues, things like that. Financial irresponsibility. But sometimes it is avoidable. I know it sounds a little bit hokey coming from two divorce lawyers but, if you can avoid calling us, we're happier.

And so that's really why we do these shows because we see these patterns and therefore we see that sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes, if people just stop and start to sort of just reprogram, not just themselves but how they are engaging with and interacting with their spouse, their significant other, they may be able to avoid the strife. They may be able to get past it, get through it, and get back on track in terms of having a happier and healthier relationship.

Leh Meriwether: Here's something interesting to keep in mind` when we're talking about these 10 resolutions is that, according to research from the Journal of Clinical Psychology, approximately 8% of Americans actually make good on their New Year's resolutions, which admittedly doesn't look so promising. But now one of the biggest problems is the goals themselves. Sometimes people think too big, when reality, it's often best to start small. You may have to... As we go through these things, we'll try to get... It's important to get very specific and don't make it something huge that seems when life gets in the way, all of a sudden resolution falls by the wayside. Start with something small that you know you can achieve and what winds up happening is small thing develops into something huge. I mean, termites, they take very, very tiny bites but they can take down an entire building with those tiny bites.

Todd Orston: Yeah.

Leh Meriwether: So if you want to build up something, it doesn't have to be... A lot of houses are built one brick at a time so you don't have to build the whole thing in one day.

Todd Orston: Yeah. Look, I'm not going to say that the statistic is wrong but I actually myself have tracked. In terms of resolutions I have made over the year or years, I'm batting about 0%. I mean, I've joined many gyms.

Leh Meriwether: But I thought when it came to your doughnut strategy, eating a doughnut a week, you achieved that one.

Todd Orston: You know what? Thank you. I'm not at 0%. That one, you're right. I think I've been good on that one. I've definitely eaten my share of doughnuts, so you know what? Thank you, Leh. This is such a positive show. I appreciate you helping me through that. I thought I was a complete failure. No, I'm [inaudible 00:05:25].

Look, resolutions are supposed to be hard. It's supposed to be a challenge. It's not supposed to be easy like, I'm going to wake up in the morning. Well, I mean, hopefully you're going to. That's not really something that should be a resolution. Eating well so that you can keep waking up in the morning. That's the tough one. Fixing or working on... Not fixing but working on a relationship. That's not one of the easy ones. It's easier to join that gym and maybe go to it than truly putting forth the effort to work on a relationship so that you're in a happy, healthy relationship. And that's a road that goes both ways. It's not just happy and healthy for you. For both parties in that relationship. That's when you're going to create that strong bond, that strong relationship, and hopefully, avoid talking to us.

Leh Meriwether: Exactly. So we're going to start with all kinds... We've got some practical things. We have some simple things that you can follow. Is it the end all be all? No. These are just ideas we want to share. We've gotten a lot of them from experts around the country and put them together and we pulled these 10 that we thought were really helpful.

So the first one is... comes from Scott Stanley. He's a senior fellow at the Institute for Family Studies. He's a research professor and co-director for the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver. He's been married for something like 40 years. One of the things he says is to double down on your positive time together. His suggestion is you look at your leisure time and are you regularly doing something with your spare time as a couple. Something that you both enjoy doing. He said, often many couples, they do things that one other partner enjoys but not necessarily the other. And it's important to find things to do together that you both like doing together.

If you're sitting there struggling with, I don't know, what do we both enjoy doing together? Then, here's what you do. You lay out, all right. We're going to find something this year that we enjoy doing together. And so you start by getting very specific. And time-bound meaning, you know what? By January 20th, we are going to come up with four different things to do together. We're going to come up with four different ideas. And by February 20th, we will try at least two of them and then by March 20th, we'll try the other two and we'll evaluate which one we like the best, and then by April 20th, we will choose one and start doing it once a month or something like that.

When you get specific like that, it's harder to blow it off. But if you just say generally, "This year we're going to find something fun to do," but you don't create a deadline, you're not going to do it. I mean it's [crosstalk 00:08:41]-

Todd Orston: Well, no one's accountable at that point.

Leh Meriwether: Right. No one's accountable.

Todd Orston: At that point it's aspirational but nobody... Like my wife, she wanted to yodel and we did a bunch of yodeling classes. No, I'm kidding. We'd never yodel. But really, at the base level, again, we're talking about communication. It's not one party dictating, "I want to go to yodeling classes," and then it's like, "I never really thought about yodeling. I don't think I'm ever going to yodel but if this is going to make you happy, let's go do it."

Leh Meriwether: Right.

Todd Orston: There may be a time for that. There may be a time for you to give your partner something that they will like. May not be something that really moves you or that you totally enjoy but you're doing that for your spouse. We're talking about something where both of you can sit down, talk, and say, "You know what? I like hiking." "I like hiking too." "Fantastic. Let's do that." "Oh, I like a foreign film festivals." "Okay. Let's find some. Let's go to them. Let's do..." Whatever it is, it's something you can do together that you both enjoy because that's going to help build and work on those bonds that you have together.

Leh Meriwether: Exactly. And obviously coming out of 2020 and going into 2021, we still have the issue of COVID to deal with, so some of these things you may come up with may not be available yet because of COVID restrictions but look [crosstalk 00:10:11]-

Todd Orston: Yeah, that's not what we're talking about. I'm sorry to interrupt. We're not talking about doing COVID together. That's not a joint venture that we're proposing.

Leh Meriwether: We're not proposing it. It's fun but no, I'm just kidding. Having done it together, because I just came out of having COVID with my wife. We did sleep a lot together.

Todd Orston: All right. Kids are listening.

Leh Meriwether: Well, I'm literally meaning sleep, [inaudible 00:10:38]. All right. When we come back, we're going to continue to break down, 10 New Year's resolutions for your marriage.

I just want to let you know that if you ever want to listen to the show live, you can listen at 1:00 AM on Monday mornings on WSB. So you can always check us out there as well.

Todd Orston: Better than counting sheep, I guess. Right?

Leh Meriwether: That's right.

Todd Orston: You can turn on the show and we'll help you fall asleep.

Leh Meriwether: There you go.

Todd Orston: I'll talk very soft.

Leh Meriwether: Welcome back everyone. This is Leh and Todd, and we are your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the divorce and family law firm of Meriwether & Tharp. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at atlantadivorceteam.com. And if you want to read a transcript of this show and our previous shows, you can go back to divorceteamradio.com. Well, today, we're digging into the 10 New Year's resolutions for your marriage.

Todd Orston: Yes, we are. Sorry. There was that pregnant pause. I'm like, "I guess he needs confirmation."

Leh Meriwether: To make sure you were still on the same page. All right. Well, we have pulled things off from various sources. What we did was we put together 10 ideas that we've found from just various people that we followed, or read, or just found online, and said, "Hey, these are good ideas. Let's put them together." It's not the end all be all but we wanted to have a positive uplifting show. So if your marriage is... maybe it's on the verge of a crisis or there's a struggle, then we wanted to share with you some ideas that may keep you from ever calling us.

Todd Orston: Yeah. And just building on that a little bit before we jump in to number two, it's also based on things that we hear often. Complaints from people, "Hey. I need a divorce. Hey I'm dealing with some issues in my marriage." And yes, we've gone to the true experts and gathered this information, but it's also based on what we're hearing. We hear people call us all the time. It's like, "My spouse does this or doesn't do that."

Leh Meriwether: Yup.

Todd Orston: And so what we've tried to do is sort of gather this information, put it together, because it reflects what a lot of people call and complain, for lack of a better way, complain about in terms of their other spouse.

Leh Meriwether: Right. So we've sort of have our own personal, whether you call it anecdotal or not, confirmation of a lot of these tips we're going to go through. All right. So number two. Turn off your phones. Yep. Turn them off. One of the problems is when you see couples... I mean, gosh, you can go to a restaurant and see it. A couple going out to eat and people are just... You'll see both of them... Just look around. Go to a restaurant, put your phones in your pocket, turn them off. Put them on airplane mode. Or at least one of you put them on airplane mode, just in case you're out and there's a babysitter at home that you want them to be able to reach you. Look around the restaurant and see how many people are looking at their phones while they're sitting down.

Now, obviously, we're recording this at the beginning of 2021. The restaurants may not be packed because of COVID, but you're still going to probably see it, where people... I know before COVID, Stephanie, my wife and I would go to restaurants, we do enjoy people-watching, and we would just see people sitting there, instead of talking, they're each looking at their phones.

Todd Orston: Yeah. But it's not Just about restaurants. And I know you feel the same way. You're focusing on going out, being together as a family or as a couple and turning off the phones. Actually engaging with the other party. But in my family, again, everyone has something to work on. I will tell you, my wife, very early on, and by that I mean, when it was just she and I, when the kids came, when they finally got phones, our rule is at the dinner table, do not even bring your phone over. I mean, absent a true potential emergency where we need the phone close to us.

And it's for that reason, we want that to be family time. We want that to be a time where we engage with one another. And to be honest, I have found that it worked. There times where I want to just pick up the phone, I want to check on something, then my wife gives me that look like... That's one of our rules. Don't do that. And it's like, you know what? You're right. Whatever I need to see, it can wait a few minutes. And that has, I believe, at least in my family, allowed us to have some meaningful quality time and any parent knows, as your kids get older, it's harder and harder to find those times.

Leh Meriwether: Yep.

Todd Orston: Your kids start drifting away just because they have friends and they have other interests and whatever, and they would love nothing more than to be on their phone. We're talking about spouses but the bottom line is absolutely, I have found that it works and I think that's a great tip.

Leh Meriwether: We have the same rule in our house. And everyone honors it. The only exception is if you're waiting to hear something. Maybe someone's sick or they may be dying and you may need to hop on a plane or you're trying to coordinate something that's really life and death, but apart from that phones are off.

Todd Orston: All right. Number three. Go ahead.

Leh Meriwether: Seek out positive role models. Find at least one older, wiser, married couple to spend time with this year. You can take them out to dinner, or breakfast, or lunch. This is a suggestion from Alysse... Oh, gosh. How do I pronounce her last name? ElHage. Sorry, I should have looked it up better. She works for the Institute for Family Studies and this was a suggestion that she had made. I know we've talked about finding wise counsel on past shows. It's so important to include in your sort of circle of influence a couple to sort of look up to and see how they interact and learn from them.

Especially because we've heard from... I know from doing the marriage groups that my wife and I have led, we had one couple in there that was really struggling and they were struggling because between them, they'd been through 12 divorces. What I mean by that is, as children, their parents married and divorced, married and divorced, and so both sides, their mother and father, had been married and divorced three times. So as children, each went through six divorces and when you combine that together that's 12 divorces so when it comes to positive role models, neither of them had it. So seeking out a couple that's been married 20, 30, 40, 50 years to spend time with, that can create that positive role model that perhaps you did not have with your parents.

Now, if your parents are a positive role model, obviously, then schedule time. Make sure you have quality time with them as well. Invite them over for dinner, ask them questions. Just being around someone that's a positive influence could have a positive effect on your marriage. I mean, whether they say... I forgot who says this but... Gosh, I wish I could give them credit, but like in five years from now, the biggest difference is going to be the friends you have. Who's around you. That's going to be one of the biggest differences between who you are today and who you are five years from now. It's going to be heavily influenced by the books you've read and the people around you.

Todd Orston: You need to understand, you may not even realize that a role model is impacting you. It's not like you go into a lunch, breakfast, dinner, or whatever, and walk away and go, "I have learned something. Yoda has taught me." It's not that obvious.

Leh Meriwether: [inaudible 00:19:30] I am.

Todd Orston: Yes. We see it quite often, where in the divorce context, where someone, one of the spouses has started spending more time with other divorced people and they begin to get influenced. All right. Now that doesn't mean in every one of those cases it was wrong for that person to request or move forward with a divorce but I'm just saying, clearly they have been impacted by the relationship they had with somebody and that person's way of thinking is, "I went through a divorce, you can do it as well." And they start to get influenced by that and then they move forward with the divorce.

Like I said, sometimes it's absolutely warranted, but they've been influenced. As with anything, in business, in your career, it's always good to figure out who knows what they're doing and let me hang out with them a little bit and maybe some of that knowledge will rub off. So I believe that's what she's saying. Look to somebody whose relationship has stood the test of time. And maybe, just maybe, you'll get little tidbits of information or some tips whether... We're not talking, again, teaching lessons and saying, "This is what you should do." Just by being around them, seeing how they interact, that might just cause some kind of change in your relationship and help you to refocus and get to a healthier place in your own relationship.

Leh Meriwether: Exactly. And so put it on the calendar. Once a month, maybe twice a month, either a breakfast, lunch, or a dinner. Make it happen. All right. The next one. Let me take the next one and you take the one after that. Forgive and ask for forgiveness. This is from Laurie DeRose, a senior fellow and research director with the World Family Map. When we come back, we'll hit this, because I don't want to rush through this one and we only have a few minutes left. And I want to make sure I explain what I mean by this so when we come back we're going to dive in number four.

Todd Orston: Hey, everyone. You're listening to our podcast but you have alternatives. You have choices. You can listen to us live also at 1:00 AM on Monday morning on WSB.

Leh Meriwether: If you're enjoying the show, we would love it if you could go rate us on iTunes or wherever you may be listening to it. Give us a five-star rating and tell us why you like the show.

Welcome back everyone. This is Leh and Todd, and we are your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the divorce and family law firm of Meriwether & Tharp. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at atlantadivorceteam.com. And if you want to read a transcript of this show or listen to it again, you can go to divorceteamradio.com.

Well, today we are talking about the 10 New Year's resolutions for your marriage. Todd, I think you and I need to come up a with New Year's resolution and that's when we come up with a list that we don't take forever talking about each subject because right now I'm going to have to cram the last ones into two segments because we took forever talking about the first three.

Todd Orston: I think you're just wasting time. Can we just jump in? We clearly have a lot to say about the remaining tips.

Leh Meriwether: Yes. All right. So forgive and ask forgiveness. Most of our spouses will need forgiveness for a New Year and it's also important to remember that we all stand to need forgiveness. Todd needs all kinds of forgiveness [inaudible 00:23:27].

Todd Orston: I forgive you all the time. Every single show I forgive you.

Leh Meriwether: Oh, boy. All right. There is a little more to this. Don't approach conflict with the idea that you have to defend yourself especially if you're not in the middle of a divorce or anything. Even then, but we're not... We're focusing on marriages right now. Here's an interesting twist, and again, this comes from Laurie DeRose. She is a... I think I had mentioned last time but... So when you approach a situation, your spouse has said something to you, whether it's accusatory or however they said it, doesn't matter, think of it this way.

Assume that you need to plead guilty and explore why that is true. So rather than jumping to the, I need to defend myself, assume for the moment what they're saying is true and explore how it could be true. Because often someone is saying something from their position, their point of view, and the ultimate truth, it may not be true at an ultimate standpoint but from their point of view it is true. And so explore that because you're going to learn a lot about your spouse.

Todd Orston: And about yourself.

Leh Meriwether: And yourself, yeah. The thing is by being open... And we may or may not receive forgiveness from our spouse but the openness that recognizes our own need for forgiveness is a much better starting place than the pride that assumes our spouse is the problem. Because pride can quickly lead to a divorce but if you take an open position that maybe you have done something wrong and you need forgiveness for it, it can change your perspective and you can learn a lot about your spouse and yourself. One of the other things to do to help achieve this is commit to reading a good book on marriage, or do a workshop together or something like that. To help learn how to forgive and ask for forgiveness. That's number four.

Todd Orston: Okay. All right. Let's jump to number five because numerically that works. If you struggled in your marriage last year, here's a simple one. Don't wait to get help. Again, this comes from Scott Stanley. Really, this is a fairly basic premise. And it goes with everything. If you're talking about relationship problems and you think that some level of help, whatever you want to call it, professional help, but from someone, if that is a therapist, if that is a role model, in other words if they are family members or friends you think can step into that role in a healthy way, don't wait. All right.

This is one of those situations where procrastination is not your friend. It is not going to help. Putting these things to the side. That's a major problem that we see as divorce lawyers all the time. If I had a nickel for every time somebody said, "Oh, this has been going on for years." Really? Okay. Well, obviously, my role at that point is not to play therapist but oftentimes the question is, "Well, has it been brought up? Have you talked to your spouse about this? Have you let them know that this is a problem?" Sometimes they say yes, sometimes no.

But I can tell you right now, you're not going to fix a problem by remaining silent, internalizing it. All that's going to do is create bitterness and increase the level of anger and resentment you might have for that spouse. As opposed to, confront it, and get the help that you need as soon as possible, if the relationship is important to you. And I don't mean that in any negative way. Obviously, anyone who jumps into a marriage, it's an important relationship. But if maintaining a healthy relationship is important to you, then don't wait. Get the help that you need because it's out there. Anyway, I think that's a great tip.

Leh Meriwether: Yeah. For some reason there is a lot of stigma about, "Oh, they went to a marriage counselor." There is a lot of negatives... There's stigma about that. But there's no stigma about, "I went to see my doctor today and got a physical." Why is it like getting a physical yearly has no stigma but seeing a marriage counselor or just... I know some couples that go every year. It's almost like a checkup.

Todd Orston: Well-

Leh Meriwether: Just like a physical checkup. They go to the counselor and the counselor has a series of questions they ask every time and it sort of like a, "Hey, let's make there is no problems."

Todd Orston: Well, I'm going to hit it from a little bit different angle. If you went to the doctor for an STD, there might be a stigma. But you're not just like you going to the doctor for that reason. You're not broadcasting it.

Leh Meriwether: Right.

Todd Orston: I mean, if you are somebody who needs to post everything on Facebook, that's a you issue, not me. There are some things maybe you need to keep private. But marital therapy, all right, counseling, that's not something you need to announce to the world.

Leh Meriwether: Right.

Todd Orston: This is something that you are doing because this relationship is so important to you that you're willing to get help from a third party to try and fix what's broken. To bridge some gap that has been created that is interfering with you having a happy relationship with your spouse. It is private. No one needs to know about it. There shouldn't a stigma because it's not a stigma. It's that whole what saying about a tree falling in a forest, does anybody really hear it? If you go to therapy, no one's going to know. So don't be hesitant to get the help that you need.

Leh Meriwether: Yep. And let's say your spouse won't agree to go, well, you can still work on yourself. Focus on what you have control over and that's yourself, and perhaps you read a good book on marriage. They may not go to counseling but maybe they'll go to a marriage workshop. And even if they're not doing those in person right now, there are a lot of online options available for you. Something to think about.

All right. Number six. Now this is from a psychologist and relationship expert, Paulette Kouffman Sherman, and she's the author of Dating from the Inside Out. She has this thing called the appreciation game. Every evening at dinner, practice telling your spouse one thing that you appreciate about him or her and have them do the same for you. Now, if you have a good relationship and then you can both do it and you alternate each night, who says what they appreciate.

It could be something very specific, it could be something very general. It could be specific, "Hey, I really appreciate this wonderful meal you made," or, "I really appreciate how you work hard to make sure the family's taken care of," or, "work hard to make sure there's plenty of money in the bank to pay our bills." So it can be general or specific. But it just makes the other person... And maybe you try to one up each other each time. Make it fun. And you do it in front of the kids if you have children because that also becomes a great example for them to see so when they get married, they already have a great example of what it looks like to shower your spouse with words of affirmation.

Let's say you're in a rocky marriage, go ahead and do it. You do it on your own. A lot of times... there's actually several books written about this. About how at first the spouse may blow you off, if you're in a rocky situation, they'll blow you off. They won't reciprocate. But in many, many situations, over the course of several weeks, or in some cases several months, the spouse begins to warm up and they start to do the same thing. And I have read countless stories of marriages that were on the rocks, on the verge of divorce, and doing something as simple as this changed... it course-corrected. Now that by itself didn't course-correct but what it did was it got the other person to a place where they said, "You know what? Let's go to marriage counseling because I'm not happy."

Todd Orston: It's a nice icebreaker.

Leh Meriwether: Yeah.

Todd Orston: For lack of a better way of putting it. If that ice wall has been created, this is the kind of thing that I could see create some cracks. And, again, I'm far from perfect. Far, far, far from perfect. Hopefully my wife's not listening because she'll call in and agree. But I'll do things like that. Now, is it something I do all the time?

Leh Meriwether: Guess what? When we come back, we'll explore all the things that Todd does. I just want to let you know that if you ever want to listen to the show live, you can listen at 1:00 AM on Monday mornings on WSB. So you can always check us out there as well.

Todd Orston: Better than counting sheep, I guess. Right?

Leh Meriwether: That's right.

Todd Orston: You can turn on the show and we'll help you fall asleep.

Leh Meriwether: There you go.

Todd Orston: I'll talk very softly.

Leh Meriwether: Welcome back everyone. This is Leh and Todd, and we are your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the divorce and family law firm of Meriwether & Tharp. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at atlantadivorceteam.com. And if you want to read a transcript of this show or others, you can go to divorceteamradio.com.

All right, we are going to wrap up the 10 New Year's resolutions for your marriage. But I'd cut you off last time. Todd, did you want to [inaudible 00:34:10] you were talking about? I mean, appreciation game.

Todd Orston: Yeah. I mean, all I was going to, nothing important, but I was going to say, it doesn't have to be a game that you're playing constantly. I mean, I think that's a great way to get into a habit. But do I do that? No, I'm not going to sit here and tell listeners, every day my wife and I play that game, but I do recognize that sometimes my wife just needs to hear that I appreciate her. And it could be something simple. "You made a doctor's appointment for the kids. Thank you very much. I appreciate you doing that." Whatever. "You put the dishes away. I really appreciate that." It's those little things that you don't realize that sometimes that could be... could make a real difference. That's all I'm saying.

Leh Meriwether: Sometimes people just need to hear it.

Todd Orston: That's right.

Leh Meriwether: Even if that's sort of the role they've decided they're going to play in the marriage, they need to hear that you appreciate it.

Todd Orston: If you take a job, you have a role to fill, right? But it doesn't mean you don't want your boss every once in a while looking at you going, "Great job. Good job." All right.

Leh Meriwether: All right. Take the next two.

Todd Orston: All right. Quickly, some simple stuff. Okay. Well, I guess seven is simple and eight is uncomfortable. But [crosstalk 00:35:28]. Number seven is, go to bed at the same time. All right. I will say, I'm being a little hypocritical. I'm being very honest and again, I hope my wife doesn't listen to this. She goes to bed earlier, I'm a night owl. I try to make up for that in different ways. What I try and do is I try and... The way that we work it, I stay... we watch a show, we do whatever, we talk. And basically when she's like, "I'm going to bed," then at that point, it's almost like, "I'll tuck you in," and then I might just go be my night owl self.

But the bottom line is, you're trying to create that relationship. So going to bed at the same time as part of a new plan to try and rekindle and rebuild, I definitely think that's a great idea. That was something that came from Cathryn Mora, a relationship expert and coach and creator of LoveSparkME. Like I said, I think it's a great idea. If there is a difference, if you have a spouse who's like, "I go to bed at eight," and you're like, "I go to bed at one in the morning," that may not work all the time. Try to do it every once in a while. Try to make sure that you are letting them know I want to be with you. And I think that's what that's all about.

Leh Meriwether: Yep.

Todd Orston: All right. Number eight. Set sex goals. All right. Sexologist and relationship expert, Dr. Nikki Goldstein, she said basically, whether it's once a week, three times a week, three times a day, whatever it is, you have to work on that side of the relationship as well. You can't be lazy about that. You can't say it's not important. It is. And if it's not important to you, that doesn't mean it's not important to the other party.

First, before you even get to sex, you have to be willing to talk about it. And I'm not talking about the bedroom voice kind of talking, I'm talking, just about that side of your relationship. And then being sort of like, "Well, it doesn't happen so I guess it's not going to happen," and nobody pushing that issue. I can tell you right now that's going to create or it has the potential to create problems. So A, communicate about what a healthy sex life for you looks like. It might be three times a day for someone or it might be once a month for someone. If you fall into the same camp, that's fine. Then you're on the same page. To me, again, this comes down to an issue of communication and getting on the same page on a very important component of a relationship.

Leh Meriwether: Yeah. And sometimes people... What happens is life gets in the way. And we often see it when parents have children, or our spouses have children, become parents. You get busy and sometimes by the end of the day you're wiped out and so the last thing on your mind is sex. I know for newlyweds that may sound crazy but we see this in our practice. We have heard this being a chief complaint. And I think Dr. Goldstein talks about this like, sometimes even if you feel like you lost it, when you get into it, and I hate to say this like, this is from a doctor's advice, fake it till you make it. And then often what happens is that traction and the connection re-emerges because of the regular activity. So it's important to, like you said Todd, start with a conversation of what that looks like, what a healthy sexual relationship looks like to you, and then the two of you work towards it because I can tell you if you don't, you most likely will wind up calling any divorce lawyer. One of you will.

And sometimes, and I'm not saying it's a valid reason but I'm just saying it happens, that your spouse starts looking for it elsewhere. Is it a good thing? No. But like Todd was pointing out earlier, we're not perfect. We all make mistakes. We're human beings. Especially Todd requires a lot of forgiveness, but you need to have a conversation about it. So that's why we're talking about the 10 New Year's resolutions for your marriage. Maybe you've let life get in the way. I mean, we all have. I mean, we see it every day when people call us. Life has gotten in the way of the relationship. And so this is one of the things to sort of rekindle that part of the relationship to make sure your marriage stays healthy.

All right. We've got two more. One I'm not going to go into exquisite detail on it because we did a whole show about it. We had the author of the book, The Five Love Languages, come on our show, Dr. Gary Chapman. Learn your partner's love language. Maybe you did this, you read the book 10 years ago or early in your marriage, but maybe you've drifted from it. Maybe you need to go back and reread the book together and make sure that each of you is speaking the other's love language. And if not, you need to have an honest conversation to say, "I don't feel like my..." One of the terms he uses in his book is the love tank. My love tank is empty, or I feel like there's holes in my love tank. They are pouring out.

We've actually touched on a lot of the different love languages in these tips because one of them's quality time, one of them's words of affirmation, one of them's gift giving. We've actually touched on a lot of his love language in this material. Everyone needs a certain level of this love. Physical touch is another one. Even if you have a primary love language, that doesn't mean you don't require the other different love languages, but you do require a lot of one in particular but... He has a whole book on it and I can't go into it in detail on the show.

I wanted to go into this last one because to me number 10 is an incredibly practical one. And so here's the last two. We're going to leave you something really simple you can do every day that can help with most relationships. One of them we do all the time at the dinner table. Here are two questions you can ask every day to make sure you're in tune with your spouse. And one of them you might be afraid to ask it but it's from Dr. Gary Brown and it says, "What can I do to make your day a bit easier?" When you take a moment to ask this question in the morning, for instance, it sends a message that you're thinking of your spouse, even if they don't have anything particular they need you to do that day. But maybe you do it on the weekends. Like you start Saturday morning. "Hey, what can I do this weekend that would make your weekend a bit easier?" And then take action on it.

Like I said, some people are afraid to ask that question because they don't [inaudible 00:43:14] to take action on it but hey, sometimes taking that action or a lot of times taking that action helps to strengthen your marriage. So you ask that question every morning. And in the evenings, especially during the week, one of the questions that we ask each other often around the dinner table is, "What three things happened to you today and how did they make you feel?"

That question actually is from Dr. Gary Chapman. So by asking this question, it forces you to find out about your spouse's day and how it has impacted them, because we get so busy with our own days it's really easy to forget about the kind of day your spouse had. Not only are you telling your spouse, even if you've had a bad day, you care about the kind of day they had, but you also learned maybe they had a really bad day and now's your chance to be there for them. So we want to end it on a very practical note and want to say thanks so much for listening and I hope that you are able to take these 10 ideas, these New Year's resolutions and help boost your marriage. Thanks so much for listening.