I read a quote recently that said if marriage was at an all time low and most people were looking at marriage as a window of opportunity (a few years of love, sex, and security), rather than a lifelong commitment. Divorces are up, among boomers as well as other groups, and dating is today’s most popular pastime. In the dating process, everybody’s on his or her best behavior, but when it evolves into a relationship, when the work starts.

I keep looking for new tips for this area. Her are some new ones.

1. Appreciation- I did an exercise with my patient this week and had them write on a white board what the loved about the other person. I make them change it every week. It’s things like this that make relationships strong.

2. Know that there are simply bad days- sigh.
You can’t be perfect – you are human, and some days you simply need to turn in early and go to your cave. If you follow it with a loving morning most things will be forgiven. However if you have more bad days than good, the it’s time to re-evaluate.

3. Time and commonality
I keep reminding my patients that you get in a relationship to spend time together. If you’re too busy and can’t find things to do together that’s a problem. The other challenge is that you need to look for the ways in which you are twins. Find the similarities and encourage them. That’s what makes relationships strong.

4. Space
The opposite of not having enough time for your partner are the challenges of couples who are joined at the hip. Both Men and women need some time and space just to be themselves. You need to develop interests outside of the relationship. Booking a time to catch up on your day, have a glass of wine together at the end of a day, or wake up and share breakfast together and have something new to share. Space and individuality is critical.

Remember, a loving relationship takes big time work and effort. But when it works, the rewards are incredible.