by Martin Novell LMFT and Daina Hulet
In books, movies, on reality television... couples who barely talk to each other, who just manage the perfunctory "How are you's?" with bullet "fine, okay, eh" responses -- are the ones who are obviously living in marriages destined for trouble. How often have you noticed a couple eating in silence at a lovely spot and prayed, "Please, don't let that be us in five years."

How Does This Happen?

In a relationship, we continue to know each other and grow with each other by the stories we tell about our day, our feelings, hopes, dreams, what angers us, what frightens us. Couples who have stopped sharing their day to day thoughts and feelings may love each other, but not know each other. Just like staying on top of what's happening via your favorite news sources, your marriage is a special interest that is even more enjoyable and exciting when both of you are up to date on each others lives.

Couples who are no longer curious about each other, may as well have danger signs emblazoned across their hearts. They may believe they have good reason for their lack of conversation -- no time, their values have changed, or they think they know each other so well that they can shortcut any effort it may take to sit down and talk. But nobody can read their spouses mind. There are no shortcuts -- no excuses for not keeping up with your mate. It's part of the responsibility of keeping your marriage in good shape.

Bonding With Words

Yes, it takes energy, but conversion is one of the foundations of a modern marriage. Ask questions. Listen. Make  the effort and the time for discussions if they're no longer happening naturally. Without that curiosity about each other, you may not have an honest clue of what your mate is really thinking. A lack of communication undermines the partnership and gives power to the unknown. The unknown leads to feelings of isolation, fears that may or may not be warranted, and knowledge gaps that can lead to a buildup of misunderstandings over time.

If you're not talking right now it may be that you still have a great depth of love for one another. That lingering love is called a legacy love, because it's built on your past. It's not an active, or current and informed, love, So break the silence! Make your marriage stronger with chats, pow wows, pillow talk, debates and updates. When it comes to marriage, silence is not golden!

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!

By Martin Novell LMFT and Daina Hulet
A lasting relationship is the ultimate luxury! One of the keys to an enviable marriage or partnership is that it has a powerful energy of it's own.
Even the healthiest of couples will, at times, feel the energy burning out between them and find boredom setting in. What you need to know is boredom is a sign that you and your partner are disconnected. Here's how you can reconnect quickly and easily.

Plan to Travel
When couples disconnect, it's often because the realities of their everyday life together have become all too predictable. But the discussions and planning that a getaway can trigger will have you both looking forward to something new with a sense of excitement and adventure, right away. If you weren't talking much before, or making any plans for the future, you will be now!

Get Personal

If the boredom caused by the disconnect between you and your partner, is emotional, then a trip won't make a difference. Your anger and disappointment won't have you growing closer, just because you're away from home.
Try this exercise instead:
Make a point of expressing what you like and respect about each other every day. Positive expressions of fondness, love and gratitude will help move your relationship away from a slump and re-energize the connection between you.