Marriage boot camp

Only one month stands between you and a better marriage. Are you strong enough?

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  • Has your communication gone flabby? Do you get worn out being nice? Can you remember the last time you went on a date with your spouse? It's time to give your marriage a kick in the pants, boot camp style. Only one month stands between you and a happier, more loving marriage. All it takes is hard work and a commitment to each other.

  • The rules

  • Before you start your marriage boot camp, it's important to set some ground rules. To ensure boot camp success:

  • Get both partners on board

  • There are thousands of great reasons to work on your marriage, and you don't have to wait until your marriage is in trouble to work on your relationship. The best couples do regular relationship maintenance. Talk it over with your spouse, and get excited about doing this together.

  • Commit to one month

  • Change doesn't happen in a day, and your marriage will not improve overnight. Designate an entire month to working through this boot camp. Pick a month without big holidays, major life changes or significant distractions.

  • Do all the exercises

  • No skipping, no cheating and no backing out. You're either all in or all out.

  • The plan

  • Here are the five exercises that you will complete this next month.

  • Spend 30 distraction-free minutes together each day

  • How are you supposed to have an open and honest relationship if you and your spouse never see each other? Every day this month, spend 30 minutes together without the kids, the television, the computer, the tablets or the cell phones. Absolutely no distractions. Talk about your day, your friends or what you've read recently. Talk about anything! The key is to just talk.

  • Go on one date each week

  • Line up a babysitter or trade kid duty with friends at least once a week this month. You can even schedule a fun, at-home date after you've put the kids to bed, but you have to commit to a planned-out date once a week this entire month. Make it fun and take it seriously. Watching your regular TV show together in your sweats on a Tuesday night does not count.

  • Keep a shared journal

  • For this month, get a journal and write entries back and forth to each other. This is not a space to air grievances or hash out disputes, but rather it's an exercise in writing each other love letters. Let your spouse know, in detail, all the things you love about him or her. Each of you must write at least two entries a week.

  • Have sex at least twice a week

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  • Bring the sizzle back into your relationship and put sex back on your weekly to-do list. Commit to physical intimacy at least twice a week this entire month. If there are physical reasons you can't do this exercise, find a suitable but still physical alternative.

  • Curb your criticism

  • We've saved the hardest exercise for last. The entire month, bite your tongue when you feel the need to criticize your spouse. No correcting his driving, and no critiquing her parenting. If you can't say something nice, keep your mouth shut for an entire 30 days.

  • The Results

  • If you commit to marriage boot camp for one entire month, it will entirely change your perspective on your marriage. When both partners make a concerted effort to improve their relationship, they will realign their priorities and begin making more time for each other. Whipping yourselves into relationship shape will result in a strong connection, greater emotional flexibility and give you greater relationship endurance.

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Heather Hale is a fourth-generation Montanan and mom to three crazy boys.

Website: http://moderatelycrunchy.blogspot.com

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