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Sally Connolly, LCSW, LMFTSally Connolly, LCSW, LMFT
A blog about mental and emotional health

Married, With Children: 10 Ways to Keep the Fires Burning

Sally Connolly, LCSW, LMFT Updated: Nov 14th 2012

Many studies report that the divorce rate is highest during the first seven years of marriage. This is the time for building a nest, settling into careers and having children.

wedding ringsIt is too easy, after the knot is tied, to focus less on the relationship and more on the job or the children. It is not that spouses love each other less, it is more because they find themselves drawn in other directions and the relationship suffers.

As couples grow apart by failing to nurture the marriage, they open themselves up for one or both to become unhappy and lonely. Problems don’t get resolved, fun dissipates and opportunities for affairs or enjoying the single life with friends and colleagues can become more interesting than what is happening at home.

Things can erode before anyone recognizes what happens. Neither spouse is usually the “bad one”. The distancing usually just happens as life evolves.

Here are 10 strategies that couples can use to nurture their relationship and keep the love alive.

1. Devote time to the relationship, time for just the two of you.

Have pillow-talk, look for one date night a week (even if you don’t leave home), find opportunities without the children, family or friends to just be with each other.

2. Have a technology free-zone.

Cell phones, face book, video games … all are distractions for intimacy and have their own inherent problems. Designate a period of time each day to put the technology away and enjoy each other and the relationship.

3. Create positivity. Make lots of deposits in the emotional bank account.

Find ways throughout the day to let each other know that you think about him or her and that you appreciate what she/he brings to your life. Everyone is enjoys being around those who notice the good in them a lot more than being around those who point out the problems.

Say “I love you. “Great dinner”. “I love the way you are with the children”. Squeeze her arm. Massage his neck. Share a loving and non-sexual touch.

4. Learn how to resolve conflict.

The lack of resolving conflict can lead to a build up of negative feelings. Find ways to lovingly talk over disagreements, resolve and heal differences.

5. Share the load at home.

When one person feels overwhelmed, it is hard to nurture loving feelings in the relationship. Fatigue may interfere with intimacy and sex. Help out the relationship by cultivating a partnership for the work at home.

6. Talk with each other about your day.

Catch each other up on your lives each day. Debrief about stressful events, share news, dream together. Make sure that your spouse is your best friend and receives your news before others.

7. Share secrets. Have pet names for each other.

Secrets bind couples to each other and set a boundary that keeps others out. Loving, special names increase a feeling of cohesiveness.

8. Keep a healthy sex life.

Kissing releases endorphins that make people feel better physically as well as emotionally. Sexual intimacy releases bonding hormones, increases feelings of connection and releases tension.

9. Try new things: restaurants, activities, movies, friends.

Keep the relationship interesting. Don’t let it go stale. Even though many parts of your days and weeks may feel routine, find ways to keep your relationship alive.

10. Limit your contact with opposite sex friends if it does not include your spouse (in person, on the internet, in the neighborhood).

Opportunity is often cited as the number 1 reason for an affair. Limit the chances for an affair to grow by limiting your contact with other potential partners.

The more that you think about your marriage and your partner and look for ways to make the relationship a priority, the more you divorce-proof and strengthen it.


Sally Connolly, LCSW, LMFT

Sally Connolly, LCSW, LMFT has been a therapist for over 30 years, specializing in work with couples, families and relationships. She has expertise with clients both present in the room as well as online through email, phone and chat therapy. She has written numerous articles about solving couple and relationship dilemmas. Many of them can be found on her website, Counseling Relationships Online, or her blog, Relationship Dilemmas.

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