Grab the Good: Building a better partnership

Molly Logan Anderson

Chaotic schedules, endless cleaning, homework and career demands do a number on marriage and life partnerships. It’s tough to carve out time with your soul mate when you can barely keep your eyes open. If you’re the parent of young children, spouse time likely means choosing between a late-night dinner or showering the spit-up out of your hair. For most of us, the spit-up wins.

Exhausted or not, your relationship must be nurtured to ensure its success. “I call the marriage the ‘foundation of the house,’” says relationship expert Rachel A. Sussman, author of "The Breakup Bible." “When the foundation sinks, so does the house. Couples need to nurture each other, and when that happens, the effects are wide spread for everyone involved.” Here are Sussman’s top tips for keeping your foundation strong:

Be kind

It’s easy to let little acts of kindness slide when you’re stressed or tired, but according to Sussman, it’s the little things that mean the most. “When we’re in a long term relationship, we tend to take the other person for granted. People forget that they’re supposed to be each other’s biggest fan.” Instead of focusing on what irritates you, make it a point each day to do or say something nice. “I've read research that says a couple needs seven positive interactions per day to override a negative interaction,” Sussman says. Set your relationship up for success by practicing little acts of kindness every day.

Fight fair

“You can be right ... or you can be married!” says Sussman, who defines clean fighting as discussing the topic at hand, working toward a resolution and compromise. Keep it fair by refraining from criticizing, digging up the past, being defensive or shutting the other person out. Remain calm and be a good listener. These fair fight guidelines lead to less emotional or intense arguments.

Have sex

Sussman says that sex is part of the glue that keeps a couple together and urges couples not to put it on the back burner. “It's important to have sex and even more important to have good sex,” Sussman advises. “It's fun, healthy and it's a non-verbal way of communicating.” If you’re having trouble finding the time, use a calendar to schedule a regular sex date with your partner.

Molly Logan Anderson is a writer, wife and mom of three who lives in the Chicago suburbs.  Intent on finding good in every day through her blog and website, she hopes to help others do the same.  From good family, to good advice, to good causes and good humor, Molly is writing about it.