When a marriage is in trouble it takes a ton of energy. Saving a relationship that is tanking takes energy. Ending a relationship that feels beyond repair takes a lot of energy. Sick relationships require a lot of attention no matter what the outcome is. Not to mention they are expensive in every imaginable way.
Oftentimes, people put their relationships on autopilot until something goes wrong, and then they start to pay attention. The challenge is that—in a lot of cases—by the time the trouble has started, it's too late. Something has gone wrong that can't be fixed. Not that you're done paying. You have to then go to the energetic, emotional and financial expense of actually ending it.
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I get asked very often how David and I keep our relationship going so strong and feeling so fresh. The answer to that question is actually super simple. We make our relationship our number one priority and give it a lot of energy. I would venture to say we give our relationship as much and probably more energy than we would if we were trying to fix it. So far, there's been nothing much to fix. Below is a list of ways to give your relationship positive attention:
1. Take time every day to talk... and I mean talk—not update. There is a period at the end of the day when most couples update each other on what's happening at work, with the kids, about the bills, etc. It takes more than that. Take time every day to touch base with each other about how you're feeling, or talk about anything other than your mutual responsibilities. When was the last time you picked your honey's brain about politics or philosophy or fun fast cars?
2. Bathe together. It's really hard not to be close, emotionally and physically, in a bathtub.
3. Exercise together. Even if this activity doesn't lend itself well to a lot of conversation, it does lend itself to feel-good hormones that can seriously improve your mood, and also have great health benefits. Doing that together is good for both of you, and good for your marriage.
4. Be in nature together. There is something about a hike or even a leisurely stroll that encourages couples to bond. Even a walk around the block holding hands makes you feel closer.
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5. Eat breakfast in bed. I'm not kidding about this. My husband brings us breakfast in bed at least four times a week. As I am not a morning person, and he gets up earlier than I do, he simply puts hot cereal and tea on a tray and brings it up. It is a wonderful way to connect on an intimate level first thing in the morning.
6. Last, but certainly not least, have sex... lots of it. A lot of women have an attitude that they don't want to be intimate until they are feeling emotionally connected. So if they aren't feeling close to their partner, the sex diminishes or stops altogether. It's a flawed premise, though. Sexual intimacy produces hormones that encourage bonding. It you want to feel closer to your husband, get it on. Whatever you do, do something that shows your commitment not just to your relationship, but to the long-term health and care of your relationship. Trust me. Whatever you invest saves you exponentially later.