1 Simple Couples' Habit That Will Save Your Marriage -- Besides More Sex

couple talking

Want to stop arguing so much? Want your husband to open up with you more often? There's one thing you can do that will help solve both issues. I'm not talking about running away together to Bali (though that would probably help, too). It's something simple the two of you can do together that will make a world of difference.

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You need to have a "State of the Union" conversation once a week.

Think about it: Every year the President accounts for how the nation is doing overall by giving a State of the Union speech. Now imagine what it would feel like if you could find a calm, quiet moment to really think about how strong your marital union is. Are there things you two could do better? Is there anything to celebrate?

Here's what you and your spouse can get from a State of the Union discussion -- and how to make the most out of yours.

1. Commit to doing it regularly. Once a week probably sounds challenging to most busy parents, but it keeps those conversations brief. "If you do it regularly," says Dr. Tina B. Tessina, psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex, and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, "you keep the backlog cleared, and discussions are quick and easy." Find a regular time when you can focus uninterrupted on each other.

2. Start by sharing gratitude. "When a human is appreciated, they will feel more at ease and have more tendencies to open up," says family counselor and author of Success Love NOW Dr. Laurie Moore. She recommends taking turns completing these statements:

I am grateful for ... in my life.

I am grateful for ... about you.

Something on my mind and in my heart about my life these days is ...

Your partner can just say "thank you" in reply. Find your own words to express these ideas if you need to. "As simple as it is," Moore says, "repeating it consciously once every week will create nourishment, happiness, and deep warmth."

3. Now say what you need. Once you've set that positive tone, you can move on to talking about what you need. Moore recommends phrasing this as, "One way you can support me is to ..." And then your partner says what he would like to do to participate in that support. Then switch roles and do the same.

For example: "One way you can support me is to help me leave for work on time." And then he says something like, "I can do that by getting the kids dressed."

More from The Stir: 7 Things All Happy Married Couples Do

4. Save difficult topics for your weekly SOTU. Arguments tend to flare up when you're reacting emotionally to something in the moment -- and when you're busy. Both conditions make it a LOT harder to work your way to a solution. If you can table those discussions for your weekly SOTU, you'll be in a much better frame of mind to solve your issues.

"Then," says Tessina, "you have a place where both of you are ready to talk, and the difficult topics don't come up at inconvenient times."

5. Build your communication skills. "A basic part of creating a healthy relationship with someone is to build an 'infrastructure,'" Tessina says. "That is, to develop patters for talking about certain things."

If you can do this while you're both focused and calm, those good conversation habits and patterns can flow into other discussions when you're feeling more stressed. Tessina recommends getting advice for talking through your toughest subjects.

6. Keep trying. Your SOTU conversations aren't going to go perfectly every time. You may wind up arguing anyway. You may get interrupted. It's okay. Learn from your experience and try again next week.

What's something you'd want to talk about in your weekly State of the Union conversation?

 

Image via Dasha Petrenko/Shutterstock

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