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Articles from February 2020

February 22, 2020

How Do Married Couples Avoid Drifting Apart?

So many divorced people will tell you they and their husband or wife "just drifted apart." They went from the intensity of "Will you marry me?" to "For better or worse until death do us part" to "Don't wait up for me."

How do the long-married folks avoid this? They do things together. And they make a habit. But not a boring, repetitive habit, because one of the secrets to a long and happy relationship is novelty.

One of my first husband's cousins introduced me to a great way to do this. First you choose a theme for the year: flowers, rocks, boats, water, sounds. Then you come up with an activity or date night or trip every month that fits the theme. She reports their activities every year in their Christmas letter, and I love reading about them.

If your theme is boats, you might visit a boat show one month, take a tour boat ride on a lake or river the next, eat at a marina, watch Titanic together, dress up like sailors for a costume party, take a cruise, go canoeing, tour an aircraft carrier or the USS Constitution, build a model boat together, take a painting class and paint boats, get some wind-up bathtub boats for a shared bath, play a game of Battleship. By now, I hope you're adding your own to the list. But you only need twelve. You'll pick a new theme for next year.

I have a second tip for you when choosing new things to try together, especially if your spouse seems reluctant at first. Choose the ones that bring out your best selves, both of them. If one of you is a cooperator and the other is a competitor, skip anything where you keep score or must work as part of a team. Instead, find something where your mate's love of nature's beauty will shine while you enjoy using your great strength of perseverance, like a hike through a National Park.

If you both share a great love of learning, lessons and lectures are perfect. But if one of you loves to learn and the other finds that being a newbie at something is horribly uncomfortable, learn something your spouse can teach. If one of you is a lot more creative than the other, choose only those creative activities that tap into another of your mate's great strengths: join the local little theater company with one of you in a creative role and the other handling lights or tickets or bookkeeping.

I promise that great guy or gal you married will enjoy doing things with you a lot more when it means doing what they're good at, what makes them feel heroic, what takes them into that delicious state of flow. After a few of those, just mention the year's theme and check out all the new suggestions you'll get.

The more you play together, the longer you stay together.

The Author

Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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