Rut #1: Watching TV During Dinner
Why it's bad: Having dinner together offers valuable face time with your partner. Turning on the tube competes for attention and cuts in on your time to catch up and connect after so many hours spent apart.
How to stop: Set aside 30 to 45 minutes of one-on-one talk time with the TV off every night. This shows your spouse that when you're not at work, you're devoted to your home and family. During this time, ignore your phone and leave the BlackBerry in another room. You'll feel closer within days.
Rut #2: Going Too Long Without Sex
Why it's bad: If the amount of sex you're used to having starts to slide, your body and brain can get used to the decreased intimacy, causing you to go even longer without wanting that closeness.
How to stop: Don't wait until you feel like doing it. Initiate sex when you're open to doing it, rather than when you have the desire. This will jump-start your feelings so you'll crave it more often.
Rut #3: Going a Whole Workday Without Talking to Your Sweetheart
Why it's bad: You'll start growing apart emotionally after subconsciously feeling like the other person doesn't think about you (and your needs) during the day.
How to stop: Initiate daily contact by sending a quick "How's your day?" email. And make the effort to do something nice every day (pick up his fave dessert, call from the store to see if she needs something). It shows forethought and consideration for your partner's needs.
Rut #4: Tuning Each Other Out
Why it's bad: You're disengaging from each other.
How to stop: Make an effort to do small things such as kissing before saying good-bye, making eye contact when talking, and complimenting each other frequently throughout the week. Does he not seem to hear you talking during certain times (ahem, when ESPN is on)? Don't try to make conversation while the TV is on. If it's important, press mute; otherwise, save conversations for dinner or your bedroom, where you're less likely to be interrupted.
Rut #5: Not Fighting
Why it's bad: Disagreements are good in a marriage because you're expressing your individuality. Talking about issues when they first happen makes them easier to fix than if you wait until after they've festered.
How to stop: Bring up what's on your mind in a way that shows your admiration and respect for each other's thoughts and feelings. Like, "It hurts my feelings when ______. I was hoping we could figure out a new way to handle the situation together." This will set the tone of the conversation as loving and calm, but you both have to compromise to keep it that way.
Rut #6: Going out More with Friends Than with Your Spouse
Why it's bad: It sends the message that your friends are more worthy of your time.
How to stop: Schedule nights out with your crew a few times a month, but make sure to let your partner know in advance. It's important to have these friendships as long as they don't make your married time sparse. And it's always best that these friends are people your partner knows and trusts, so there's less reason to worry.
Rut #7: Being Too Close
Why it's bad: As much as you think burping, scratching, picking, or farting is funny or cute, it can backfire and cross the line. It may be a reflection of your closeness, but there should be a limit. Otherwise, you're leaving your partner with a very unsexy image of you.
How to stop: Start a new rule. If you wouldn't do it in front of your work friends, don't do it in front of your honey. To get your mate to refrain, say: "I know we're close, and we can share everything, but I'd really appreciate it if you'd leave the room, or leave me out, when you do that. It's not very sexy, and I don't want anything that makes you less sexy to me."
Rut #8: Sharing Too Much with Your Parents or In-laws
Why it's bad: This shows a lack of loyalty to your spouse. Your parents shouldn't have any information that your spouse doesn't have. And they shouldn't know anything he wouldn't want them to know.
How to stop: Be loyal to your spouse even when she's not present. If you wouldn't say something in front of her, don't say it at all. You would want the same in return.
Dr. Susan Fletcher is a licensed psychologist in private practice and the author of Parenting in the Smart Zone