Marriage Makeovers: 5 New Ways to Make it Work

Could answers to your relationship problems be right under your nose? Kathy Dawson, author of Diagnosis: Married, has practical solutions to prevent stress and create a healthier environment -- and a happier marriage.

Let each other take the floor and have your say
"No one likes being interrupted. If you, your mate or both of you are interrupting, you can't possibly be listening to what the other is saying. For genuine, open communication to happen between you, you have to get down from your soapbox long enough to let each other say what you'd like to say."

Just do it:
The next time you and your mate interrupt each other, reach for anything handy to represent the "floor." Use this technique to help you both listen instead of interrupt.

Clutter breeds a stressful environment
"Both Maria and Preston were experts at accumulating clutter. Neither Preston nor Maria could honestly blame each other for neither was particularly neater than the other. The stress and tension they created by letting clutter overtake their environment put a strain on their relationship that was easily avoidable."

Just do it:
Set time aside with your mate to do an inventory of clutter in your home. As you walk from room to room, own your own "stuff" by acknowledging what clutter belongs to you. Once you've designated whose debris is whose, place your clutter in a strategically placed collection basket. Once every week, on an agreed upon day, clean out your clutter.

Next page: Tools for Romance

Change your view on change
"There are probably things about your partner that you'd love to change. It's best to acknowledge that both you and your partner have some character defects. And the best chance your mate has of embarking on a self-improvement project is if he or she does it alone. Your own growth as well as your mate's depends upon your ability to let of what you can't control. You can't control or change your mate. You can control how you react to him or her. Understand that and your relationship will bloom."

Just do it Make a list of all the things about your partner that you would like to change. Next to each item, write how you can change your reaction instead of your mate.

The Tools of Romance
"Every home should have a toolbox for dealing with emergencies -- a hammer, screwdriver, etc., to cope with the little chores that inevitably emerge. Aside from a toolbox for household emergencies, you need to have a 'tool kit' designated strictly for romance. This space is meant for romantic tools: anything from greeting cards to sex toys, from personal photographs to brochures of romantic getaway places."

Just do it
Start a relationships drawer -- your own relationship toolbox of sorts. You do it for your hammers, screwdrivers, and pliers. Why not for your relationship? Begin by lining a drawer with scented paper and make your first tool a favorite picture of you and your mate. Little by little fill your drawer with romantic resources.

Forgetting to remember
"Think of all the ways you remind yourself of what has to be done every day. You do whatever it takes to remember to make that call, run that errand, or get to that appointment. Your memory bank can hold a lot of information, but it's only so big. Make sure you leave room for the romantic memories between you and your mate. The next time you think you're falling out of love with your partner, think again. Chances are, you've just forgotten."

Just do it:
Find three different romantic photos of you and your mate. If you don't have any, take some. Frame the pictures and display them in strategic places in your home, preferably where you spend much of your time.

Read more about Kathy Dawson.

Looking for more marriage makeover ideas? Ever wish you could just take a break from your relationship -- to pursue your dreams, travel or just relax? Take a look at our guide to a Marriage Sabbatical.

Would you give up control in your marriage to increase intimacy? Read The Surrendered Wife: What It Is, What It Isn't
Try 5 Ways to Surrender

Excerpted from Diagnosis:Married by Kathy Dawson © December, 2000,Perigee Books. Used by permission.

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