Dating and marriage is different than it was twenty years ago. In today’s
society, more than 50% of all marriages fail for one reason or another.
Just thinking about that makes “commitment” seem scary. It seems that when
relationships are faced with challenges, people quit trying.
Dating is more like a marathon, trying to date as many people as possible,
instead of taking time to get to know someone at a deeper level.
For married couples, divorce is not biased. Whether married for thirty years or
eight months, the outcome can be the same.
The fact is that relationships, whether dating or married, are hard.
Things do not always go perfectly, fighting does occur, and it takes a 100%
commitment from both parties to make it a success.
Often when people break off a relationship, they feel as though something is
The “spark” has gone, leaving one or both people feeling inadequate and
However, even though the odds are not very good, healthy, and long-lasting
relationships are definitely possible and proven by many people.
Look at Paul Newman and Joanne Woodard, Danny Devito and Rhea Perlman,
or Nancy and Ronald Regan. What secrets do they possess?
The answer is that they all work hard at their relationship.
They made a decision of choosing to love their mate rather than relying on the
“warm and fuzzy” feelings, which everyone knows will fade.
By making love a choice you are making a decision that even in the bad times,
you stick it out. Think of it like choosing a car.
You pick out the make, model, year, color, and features that you believe are
best for you.
After driving your car for a couple of months, you realize that perhaps you
should have purchased a larger car, or that maybe the leather seats would
have been better, or on hot sunny days, the sunroof would have been nice.
However, it is now too late so you choose to keep your car and make it work. It
is the same for marriage.
Not everything will be perfect and there will be major obstacles to overcome
but you have made your decision and now you choose to make it work.
There are hundreds of things you can do to better your relationship.
To help get you headed in the right direction, we have chosen 101 ways to
build, strengthen, and enhance your relationship. Remember, little steps taken
every day will add up to big successes.
1. Start Over
When couples first get together, everything is new and exciting.
They overlook the little annoying things the other person does. However, after
time, the nagging starts, instead of hearing, “You look beautiful,” they might
hear “Why are you wearing that shirt?” If this sounds like your relationship,
first, the two of you need to sit down and be honest that things have changed.
Identify the things each other did in the beginning of the relationship that
created the attraction in the first place. Then together, make a commitment to
start over. The truth is, both of you will have to work on this. It will not
automatically be easy but it is possible. Start by forgiving each other, forgetting
the past, and then start over with the flirtation. Focus only on the special
things your mate does and relearn to put the unimportant things aside. It will
take some time so be patient.
2. Schedule Time
Spending quality time together is crucial. This time can be with friends, dining
out, attending a sporting event, or cuddling together while watching a favorite
movie. The activity is not what is important but the fact that you are together,
doing something that you both enjoy. People have extremely busy schedules
and between work, family, the home, errands, and everything else going on,
finding time for your mate can be difficult. Just as you would schedule a
meeting on your calendar, show some courtesy in the relationship by
scheduling time with each other. Once the plan is in place, no backing out
unless you have some life and death emergency.
3. The Power of Touch
When a child is ill, doctors will tell you that it is proven that a simple, loving
touch of a parent can quickly pull the child through a crisis. It is the same for
relationships. Playing with your mate’s hair, rubbing their hand, a soft kiss on
the neck, a soft pat on the leg or giving a gentle back rub will make a huge
difference in how your mate responds to you. When was the last time you
walked up to your mate for no reason and without saying a word,
affectionately placed a kiss on their neck? This is not in a sexual way, but an
affectionate way. There is a difference. The next time the two of you are sitting
in the car, at the grocery story, or standing in line at the theater, quietly reach
over and take their hand. Do not be surprised if you get a strange look of
curiosity the first time!
If you and your mate have scheduled some time for a Friday night dinner, put
together a surprise instead. For example, if your mate loves professional
wrestling, buy some tickets near the front or if they like concerts, purchase the
tickets ahead of time, getting the best seats possible. When Friday night comes
around, insist on driving and head toward the location where the event is
taking place. When asked where you are going, simply answer, “I have a
surprise for you. I know you love professional wrestling so I purchased two
great seats for tonight’s performance,” or “I know we had planned on going to
dinner, but I wanted to surprise you with something special. I purchased
tickets to see one of your favourite groups in concert.” The idea of you getting
the tickets for something THEY like and then keeping it as a special surprise will
touch the heart!
5. Needed Space
As important as it is to spend quality time together, it is equally important to
give each other time to do something they like. If your mate loves to fish but
you have no desire to bait a hook with little, slimy worms, or if you like to go to
the casino but your mate would rather do something different, encourage each
other to take time apart. Try establishing a set time for this very purpose, if
possible. For example, perhaps you could determine that every other Friday
night is “singles” night. This is not a time to date other people, but to enjoy
preferred activities. Remember that you have to place trust in your
relationship. If you try this and then drill them, to see what they did, whom
they were with, and where they went, then the exercise has failed.
6. No Debates
If you know that you and your mate have proven differences in opinion on
certain subjects, avoid those subjects. As an example, if you are a Republican
and your mate is a Democrat, politics should probably be avoided. As the two
of you identify new topics that could cause a debate session, stop the
conversation before it even gets started
7. Filler Talk
If you are married, especially with children, break out of the habit of talking
about nothing. Many times, families will be sitting around the dinner table and
the conversation consists of, “Do you like your carrots?”, or “I wonder what is
on TV tonight?” Instead, change your strategy to include real questions,
showing real interest. Replace the normal, “Did you have a good day at work?”
with “Tell me what you did at work today.” Even if you do not understand
everything being said, listen with interest. It is not that you are so much
interested in the work, but your mate’s life.
8. Re-establish Old Traditions
If you and your mate had a tradition of some kind when you first got together,
dust it off and breathe life back into it. Perhaps you met after work on Friday at
the local pub for a drink, washed your cars together every Saturday morning,
or attended church together on Sunday. Whatever it was, re-establish the
9. Lighten Up
Often when couples have gone through or are going through some bumpy
spots in their relationship, things tend to get serious. It could be that there is a
tremendous amount of tension or perhaps they are not sure what to say.
Regardless of the reason, learn to lighten up. Do not take every comment,
glance, or movement as a serious problem. If your mate makes a mistake,
which you both will, let it go, or if appropriate, laugh about it. If you make a
mistake, do not be afraid to poke fun at yourself. This will automatically start
the process of tension breaking.
When couples are having problems in a relationship, communication is the
first thing to stop. It is often easier to just be quiet than to get mad. When
rebuilding relationships, just as communication was the first to stop, it now
needs to be the first to start. This will require that both individuals let down
their guard and pretty much throw caution to the wind. Healing in the
relationship cannot start until you talk. Make an agreement that you will talk
about anything and everything and that you will listen, really listen. That does
not mean that you will agree with everything, which is perfectly fine. However,
if you do not agree, do not yell, rather, the two of you need to calmly discuss
the issue and together, work out a solution. This is hard work but within a very
short time, you will both feel much better, individually and as a couple.
11. A Night of Passion
Intimacy and passion in relationships is not only important but also healthy.
Couples need to enjoy being together in an intimate way. When relationships
are troubled, the last thing either person wants is to be sexual or passionate
with each other. However, this is a part of the healing and rebuilding of the
relationship and although it might be awkward in the beginning, it is crucial.
Make your intimate time together special. Surprise your mate with a warm
bubble bath, lighted candles, soft music, and a bottle of wine, or reserve a nice
romantic evening at a local hotel to include a wonderful candlelit dinner, fine
wine, and a beautiful room.
12. Dinner Party
Start a new tradition of hosting a dinner party every other month or two and
inviting several of you and your mate’s friends. Set up board games that
everyone will enjoy, have some light and lively music playing, and plan to have
a blast. Spending time with friends in this kind of setting is a great way to
reduce stress. When stress is low, couples get along better. This is a wonderful
way to interact with each other’s friends as a couple.
13. Happy Birthday
As people grow older, in general, birthdays become less celebrated. Gifts are
quickly given, meals eaten, and it is over. For your mate’s next birthday, take
some time to plan something very special. Make this a true celebration of their
life as a way of showing your love and appreciation. Every person, even adults,
like attention and love to be appreciated. Whether a surprise party or not,
your mate will be impressed that you went to all the effort just for them.
14. Secret Getaway
Plan a nice weekend getaway to some place off the beaten track where you
can enjoy some privacy. A quaint cottage or charming bed and breakfast would
be ideal choices. Scout out the area ahead of time and choose a few things that
the two of you would like to do in the area but just be sure to leave plenty of
time for you to enjoy some alone time. Order a nice bottle of wine or some hot
cappuccino and relax in front of the fire! Make this a romantic weekend where
you can rekindle your love.
15. Special Greeting
If your mate has to work late and you know he had a bad day, surprise him
with a late-night gourmet meal. When you hear him arrive home, greet him in
new, sexy lingerie, a warm kiss, and wonderful hot meal. After he picks himself
up off the floor, he will fall in love with you all over again for this wonderful
greeting. If reversed and the woman is coming home, after giving her a
lingering kiss, have her join you in the dining room where the table is set with
soft glowing candles and a wonderful meal. Have an envelope lying by her
plate that when opened, she will read, “This certificate is good for one thirty-
minute massage after dinner.” This is how you keep romance alive!
16. Just Because
Give your mate gifts “just because.” These do not have to be expensive
whatsoever. For example, one woman had a miniature dish collection in her
kitchen. Her husband came home and told her that he had a gift for her.
Holding out her hand, he gently placed in her hand a miniature porcelain cup
with her name neatly written in blue ink. She knew that this cup probably cost
no more than $2.00 but the thought that he would take the time to find
something she enjoyed, was worth $1 million. The small gifts packed with
thought are far more cherished.
17. Say it with Words
Surprise your mate with little notes found in unexpected places. If your mate
travels for work, place a loving note somewhere in their suitcase. Perhaps they
have a long commute to work. If so, slip a note saying, “I love you,” in their CD
case where you know they will find it. Another recommendation is sticking a
note on the bathroom mirror so this will be the first thing seen in the morning.
Be creative and have some fun with this.
18. Cuddle Time
When couples first start dating, cuddling is usually a part of their everyday
existence. However, as the relationship progresses or after children enter the
picture, the cuddling stops. Take some time just to cuddle. If your mate is
sitting on the couch watching a movie, or laying in bed reading, scoot close and
tell them that you just want to cuddle. This makes both people feel secure and
19. Breakfast in Bed
When was the last time you or your mate were served breakfast in bed?
Never? On a Saturday or Sunday, when nothing special is planned, get up a
little early and fix their favorite breakfast. Include the morning newspaper as
an added bonus. Although they may be shocked, you can be guaranteed that
this gesture of love will be appreciated.
20. Make the Men Feel Good
For the man in your life, here are some recommendations for making him feel
Flirt with him in public places
Just once, leave the toilet lid up
Lavish him with compliments!
Tell him how sexy he is
Act jealous occasionally, even if you are not.
Remind him that he is a wonderful mate, husband, father, whichever
Tell him how handsome you find him
21. Make the Women Feel Good
Just like men, woman love feeling good about themselves.
These recommendations might help:
Tell her how beautiful she is
Compliment her on her many skills (be specific)
Just once, leave the toilet seat down.
Tell her how much she means to you
Let her know that she is your best friend!
Show affectionate to her in front of family and friends
Let her know that you find her to be sexy!
22. That Kiss
As couples become comfortable with each other, kisses can become lame. Get
rid of the pecks and get serious with the kisses. The next time the two of you
greet each other, enjoy your kiss and do not be so quick to stop. While there
are appropriate times for serious kissing, they should be loving, sincere, and
passionate, regardless of how long they last. You will find that as you pay
attention to your kissing and let your mate know that you enjoy kissing them,
you will both feel better about your relationship.
23. Be Kind to One Another
Unbelievably, kindness is often over simplified. Even good relationships can
lack acts of kindness. This refers to “Do unto others…” Simple acts of kindness
can have huge impacts on a relationship. If your husband or boyfriend is out
working on the car on a hot summer day, make a thermos of ice-cold tea and
take it to him, giving him a gentle kiss. If your wife or girlfriend has been
working at the computer all day, walk up behind her and massage her
shoulders and neck. You get the idea. Kindness means looking at the other
person’s situation and seeing what you can do or add to that situation to make
it better or easier. This is a way to validate your respect for each other.
Kindness will go a long way in a relationship.