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10 Valentines Day Tips for Spouses Who Want to Improve Their Marriage

The best and most valuable gifts are often not material ones. While many spouses focus on Valentine's Day gifts such as jewelry or candy, spouses who are willing to invest the time and energy can give one of the most precious gifts possible-an improved, satisfying marriage.

Long after the romantic card is tucked away and the box of candy is empty, this marriage-enriching gift will still be appreciated and enjoyed. Follow these ten steps to give yourself and your spouse an unforgettable Valentine's Day gift:

1. Direct your energy into becoming the kind of marriage partner you'd like to have. It's easy to criticize a spouse for not being perfect while we overlook our own imperfections.

2. Focus on how you need to change in order to be a better partner. The only person you can ultimately change is yourself.

3. Accept responsibility for your own actions. You take a giant leap forward in growth the day you can say, "I'm sorry for my actions" instead of rationalizing and offering excuses.

4. Minimize blame and resentment. They are toxic and can poison your marriage and your life.

5. Practice forgiveness, not to let your partner off the hook, but because you want to move forward without carrying the weight of past hurts.

6. Break your marriage goals down into small steps and begin taking action. It'll be easier to continue moving forward when you start seeing progress.

7. Adopt the philosophy expressed in the Serenity Prayer: "God, grant me serenity to accept what I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."

8. Focus on what you can do and give instead of keeping tabs about who is doing the most or making the greatest effort in your marriage.

9. Strive for balance in your own life between family, friends, work, sports, hobbies, recreation, and other interests. Then you won't be as likely to obsess about the imperfections in your partner.

10. Reward and praise yourself often for hanging in there in a challenging situation. You deserve it!

Nancy J. Wasson, Ph.D., is co-author of Keep Your Marriage: What to Do When Your Spouse Says "I don't love you anymore!" This e-book is available at http://www.KeepYourMarriage.com, where you can also sign up for the free Keep Your Marriage Internet Magazine. Nancy can be contacted at Nancy@KeepYourMarriage.com.

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