Be funny - Kind-spirited humor can douse a hot argument, head off a fight, and turn the drudgery of household responsibilities and planning into something witty, smart, and hilarious. Stick with warm humor; sarcasm and snide remarks aren't relationship-builders.
*Be appreciative - You can never appreciate your honey too much. He or she needs to hear how much you admire the way he or she gets the bills paid, organizes the kids' activities, made that tasty shrimp scampi last night, rewired the basement, cleared out three months' worth of old magazines from beside the couch, or got the trash out to the curb just in time for pickup.
*Be surprising - Bring home an unexpected little gift. Get the car serviced before he changes the oil. Deliver breakfast in bed next Saturday (then pop on the TV for the kids and lock your bedroom door).
*Be historical - Play the songs you two loved best when you were courting. Bring out your wedding album after dinner and leaf through it together. Bring up the good times from your past-you'll both get a glow and feel lifted up as you remember your passion.
*Be forgetful - Forgive your spouse's human shortcomings, then forget them. Nobody's perfect, especially under stress. (Hmmm...could that include you?) Graciously overlooking flaws, errors, and gaffes sets a sweetly gracious tone for your relationship.
The writer is a freelance journalist and contributor at www.rd.com
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