by Martin Novell LMFT and Daina Hulet
In therapy, it's not uncommon for one member of a couple to complain that they see their mate treat coworkers and friends better than they treat them. In so many of these situations, little things that involve simple politeness can shift your relationship to a much better place. Here are 6 quick tips that practiced regularly will help you build a stronger, more respectful relationship. And they just take minutes!

1. Don’t leave the house
without knowing something about what you each have scheduled for that day. “I’ll be home early, so I’ll pick up dinner.” “It’s my basketball night.” “I have that meeting with Jessie’s teacher at 3.” If you don’t get the chance to connect at home, call or text just to touch base during the day.

2. Find something you honestly appreciat
in your partner and demonstrate your fondness or appreciation in some way.

3. Simple politeness can generate a more positive mood in the household. “Thank you, I appreciate your cleaning up the kitchen for us.”  “I know you’re just as tired as I am, so I’m grateful that you walked the dog for me tonight.”

4. When you come home from work and you need a minute, 15 minutes, or a quick nap to unwind before you can talk, let your mate know that as soon as you greet them. It can’t hurt to add “But I still love you,” as reassurance, that your time out is not about them. It helps avoid those shouting matches that occur when one of you feels dismissed.

5. When one or both of you are running late for an event, don’t try to make the time up on the road, or start catastrophising about what’s going to happen if you’re late. Having fights in the car when you are stressed is typical, but it ruins what was meant to be a perfectly wonderful event.
Instead make and accept apologies, make any calls you need to make regarding you arrival time, and regroup before you get into the car.

6. Know when it’s time to walk away from an argument. Blaming, eye rolling, name calling, rage… are all examples of a disagreement that’s out of control. When this happens it’s time to walk away until you have both calmed down and can think clearly. Say,“I need to take some time away from this argument. It’s best for both of us. I promise we will work this out soon.” And, make sure you do.

It’s all about making connections!

by Martin Novell LMFT and Daina Hulet
It’s time to let go of those unrealistic expectations of marriage: “You shouldn’t have to work at marriage.” “All you need is love.” “If it’s meant to be, it’ll all work out.” “We’re soul mates – of course our marriage will be perfect!”
Marriage can be a risky business - more than 50 percent end in divorce. Yet almost everyone is looking to get coupled up. 90 percent of all Americans will walk down the aisle at some point in their lives.  
With more realistic expectations for marriage, research shows they last longer. You won’t necessarily live happily-ever-after, but you will have an interesting trip! Here are ideas to consider if you want a “real” marriage:

1. It takes teamwork.

Even with a strong bond and a deep commitment, unexpected developments can blindside and damage a healthy union. Marriage takes bravery. It takes fearlessness to face and work out problems as a team. Simply kissing and making up, burying the hatchet, ignoring changes and avoiding arguments, lays the groundwork for a bumpy future full of unresolved issues that will definitely be brought up again.

2. Your mate isn’t perfect and neither are you.

There’s no such thing as a perfect marriage. Marriage is a journey that takes skills for joy to exist and endure. We need to understand our mates, their wants, their dreams - and express our own. In doing so, we can learn to live with our differences as two unique, loving, ever-changing people who call themselves a couple.

3. We know how to plan weddings - not marriages.

Every little detail is covered from the guest list to the thank-you notes. But it’s rare for couples to strategize the important values of their life together, once the honeymoon is over.
We seek out information on how to become good parents.  We study what to expect during pregnancy.  We go to school to learn an occupation. We even take classes to find out how to enjoy our hobbies, and put in time at the gym to cross-train for our favorite sports.
But how much time and effort do we put out to enhance our marriage skills so love can grow. Why do we want to believe that things will magically work out on their own?
So go ahead, grow together as a team of two – a team of experts in your own unique relationship. Put it at the top of your list of invaluable ways to show your love. Evaluate your marriage often - talk about it. Design a marriage that works for both of you!