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How You Can Divorce-Proof Your Marriage

Keeping that “'til death do us part” promise isn’t easy -- just ask the million or so couples each year whose marriages go kaput. But following these simple strategies can help increase your odds of staying together.

Photo by Getty Images

Brighten each other’s days. Prioritizing your mate’s happiness promotes marital bliss. “Not making each other feel like a major priority is a relationship killer,” says Dr. Seth Meyers, a licensed clinical psychologist and author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve. “Make sure to ask with interest how your partner’s day was, and when he or she has had a hard day, ask, ‘Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?’”

Step away from your smart-phone. That constant interactivity with your friends and colleagues can be a big detriment to being present with your partner. Vow to spend at least 30 minutes each night with your partner, technology- free.

Make regular date nights. Spending uninterrupted fun time with your mate really does keep the romance alive. “It’s too easy for couples to become focused on the daily chores and stresses, and forget why they fell in love in the first place,” says Tina B. Tessina, PhD (aka "Dr. Romance") psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage. That doesn’t mean you have to go out every week; sharing Chinese takeout at home will also do the trick.

Get in touch. We mean that literally. “Sex is not necessarily the glue that will hold a relationship together and divorce-proof it, but physical affection is,” says Meyers. “You should set aside time to hold each other, cuddle, and give each other massages.”

Flirt shamelessly. People often talk about how Facebook makes it too easy to rekindle romance with an old flame -- so why not use it to add spark to your current relationship? Sending flirty messages via Facebook or provocative photos from your smartphone can give your relationship a boost.

Get down to business. Financial disagreements can ruin your marriage -- but regular “business” meetings where you discuss money issues, setting goals, and budgeting can help keep you both on the same page. “If you can talk about money and find a way to support each other, it will be a benefit to the partnership, not a threat,” says Tessina.

Think long-term. Before you sweat the small stuff, remember that you’re in it for the long haul -- so maybe your mate’s maddening habit of leaving tissues in his pockets isn’t such a big deal. And when kids are in the picture, don’t be afraid to prioritize your spouse over your offspring on a regular basis. “Don't fall into the trap of only thinking of each other as mommy and daddy,” says Tessina. “Remember, when your kids are grown and gone, it will be just the two of you, and find ways to acknowledge that your relationship with each other is important.”

Leave the drama to the characters on Mad Men. When things go wrong, never stop speaking or walk out on each other. “Learn to sit down as an adult, and talk about what the solution might be,” advises Tessina. “Think and act as you do at work when a problem arises -- most people can't throw fits and keep their jobs.” If you’re both committed to working things through, you’ll be able to get through any problem that you might face.

Don’t be afraid to get professional help. Couples therapy often ends up being the last rest stop on the road to divorce. But couples can benefit from getting guidance whenever the road gets a little rocky -- or even if you’re feeling like you’re in a rut. “Getting counseling early, before the drama sets in, will help you create a successful marriage together,” says Tessina. A session or two with a therapist every few years can be just the tune-up you need to make your marriage last.

-- Lisa Milbrand has written about love and relationships (and a host of other less important topics) for The Knot, The Nest and The Bump, among dozens of other publications

See More: Couple Issues , Love & Sex