1. Insulate and protect your marriage against emotional infidelity by avoiding friendships with the opposite sex. Often, attempts at making a marriage better fail when much of the marital energy is diluted by outside factors.
2. Codependence is a necessary ingredient for a successful marriage. You and your spouse must dare to need each other. It isn't enough to want your spouse. Needing each other is more important than individuality and independence.
3. Your marriage must have clear, realistic goals and a specific plan for achieving them. The difference between a business proposal and a marriage proposal is extraordinary. Couples must understand what it is they are looking for.
4. Like any working partnership, your marriage needs well-defined roles for each spouse.
5. Acceptance is about appreciating, not settling.
6. Your marriage has to come first -- before kids or your job, and requires daily focus: touchpoints, talkpoints, date night, and honeymoon night.
7. Your childhood has a great deal to do with your ability to enjoy a great marriage. Having a meaningful understanding of your past and how it affects your ability to love will have a great impact on your marriage.
8. Great sex comes not from great sexual skill but from sharing your deepest, shyest self while trusting your partner.
9. Your child is one of your best tools for creating a great marriage. Don't have a great marriage in spite of your children. Take your children on a family journey that will enhance your marital relationship.
10. Marriage has many stages; you need realistic expectations for each one.
11. Your in-laws can strengthen your marriage. (This isn't always a fundamental issue in marriages, but I've found it can really cement a relationship.)
Do you agree with Neuman? Will these 11 steps make your marriage better?
Excerpted from Emotional Infidelity by M. Gary Neuman. Copyright 2001 by M.Gary Neuman. Excerpted by permission of Crown, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.