This is actually great advice for anyone who’s in a relationship (Photo by Aaron Richter)
Even happily married guys wonder what sorts of itches they’d be scratching if they were to ditch their partner. Their “newly single” fantasy might include long, naked weekends with a Hooters waitress, but the reality is not nearly as provocative.
As a divorced man, you are 39 percent more likely to commit suicide. Even if you don’t kill yourself, you will die younger. And forget chasing tail; your mobility also suffers from singlehood.
Oh, and yes, divorce crushes your finances: A study of divorced baby boomers found that a split slashed their wealth to less than a quarter of what they would’ve had if they’d never wed at all.
So we’ve collected 25 tips that can protect you from the sickly, cash-poor, single life. Save your marriage before it’s too late!
(To see how much work your relationship really needs, check out How Strong Is Your Marriage?)
1. Assume the Best Explanation for What She Did, Not the Worst
Think of an annoying thing she does that you regularly misinterpret. Psychologists call this a “maladaptive attribution.” Then stop it. You can improve your marriage simply by thinking about it differently; choose the kindest possible interpretation for her actions instead of the ugliest.
2. Take the Zero-Negativity Challenge
How many days this month can you go without doing or saying a single negative, hurtful thing to your partner? Give it a try, suggest Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., and Helen LaKelly Hunt, Ph.D., who’ve written 10 books on relationships.
You can strike sarcasm off the list too. In the words of Terry Real, the author of The New Rules of Marriage: “Sarcasm eats intimacy.” Your words matter. Measure them.
3. A Foot Massage Works Wonders; A Head Massage Works Miracles
4. Don’t Make a Complaint. Make a Request Instead (Politely!)
5. Write Her a Letter—On Paper
A University of Denver study of soldiers found that exchanging letters with their wives had a more positive and long-lasting effect than texting did.
6. Watch This Sex Video
“Makeup sex” doesn’t solve a fight, and latent anger can be a lust killer. Sit down together and watch family therapist Michele Weiner-Davis’s TEDx talk “The Sex-Starved Marriage” on YouTube.
Even if you’re not exactly starving, this video can help stoke hunger now and forever.
7. Don’t Try to Fix Her Problems—Just Listen to Them
“Men are conditioned to solve problems and to protect the women they love,” says couples therapist Shiri Cohen, Ph.D., an instructor at Harvard Medical School.
“This can backfire when all she really wants is to be heard,” she says. “The next time your mate needs to vent or complain, just give her your open ears.”
If you think you do have a good solution, wait and bring it up later during a separate conversation.
8. Sweat with Her, Then Hop in the Shower Together Later. It’s Healthy!
For 20 years, Thomas Bradbury, Ph.D., and Benjamin Karney, Ph.D., of UCLA’s Marriage Lab, followed more than 1,000 couples to evaluate the different ways partners support each other in their efforts to make important changes in their lives. Bradbury says he was amazed that the most common topic—coming up in about seven out of 10 couples—was that they wanted to change to a healthier lifestyle.
Their book, Love Me Slender, shows couples how to work together to maintain healthy weights. A new large-scale British study seconds that: “Men and women are more likely to make a positive health behavior change if their partner does too,” the authors note. Get started today withThe Best Workouts to Do with a Partner.
9. Look Past Her Flaws (Don’t Try to Eliminate Them)
“Look above the things you find annoying or unpleasant,” says Douglas LaBier, Ph.D., a psychologist based in D.C. “Respond to the best qualities in her—which will always make her best side stronger.”
10. Tell the Kids to Shut Up While You Two “Connect”
“A measly 15 minutes,” says William Doherty, Ph.D., a professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota. These kinds of “connection rituals” hotwire your whole life together. So do it.