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Love/Relationship Columnist Author: Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, Love/Relationship Columnist - Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

10 Simple Rules for a Happy Marriage

By Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, Love/Relationship Columnist -
Sep 20, 2010 - 6:03:06 AM

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( - The latest report I read (and these change every day) was that 22% of men and 17% of women cheat during a married lifetime. This number is from a reliable source, but only as reliable as the people they survey who admit it or tell untruths about it. In my practice it is higher than that, but most likely that is because I see those couples who are struggling after an affair. If that is all you see, then it begins to look like the number is incredibly high. There are simple rules that couples who are successful with marriage follow. They seem so easy, but often are difficult to practice on a daily basis. As you go through this list don’t try to do them all. Make a mission to try following through with two of them at a time for a month. After that talk with your partner about the changes, and decide on two more.

1. Talk. Dance. Communicate any way you can. Being together and being friends is how all good relationships begin and become stronger. If you don’t feel like your partner has your best interests at heart you won’t feel committed for life.
2. Focus on behaving in a way you wouldn’t be ashamed of if your spouse was there with you. You may feel great flirting and getting attention but if your spouse were there would they feel proud of the way you were acting? Would they respect this part of you? Don’t be one thing to your partner and another in your private life.
3. Think kindness. Be kind. It’s so easy to be grumpy, or irritable. It is even easier when you are with someone for a long time. That same person who vowed their life to you at the altar still gets a sparkle when you are kind to them.
4. Think outside the box. Quit going back to what your parents did. You are creating a marriage and writing your own script. It can be wild, it can be crazy, and it can be fun! It doesn’t have to be what your mom or dad thought best. At the end of your life you are not going to answer to your mother or father. It will be your choices you reflect on.
5. Do one thing each day that you wish your partner would do for you. For example women come into my office (with their husbands) and tell their husband (and me) how they never get flowers. When is the last time you sent your husband flowers? Guys don’t like flowers? You better ask them. Most men love getting a card or flowers sent to them.
6. Think you are too old, or out of shape, or busy to try that bicycle tour, or take that cooking class with your spouse? If you think you are, you are. The circumstances that prevent us from doing things together will never end. You have to value “the us” enough to keep your relationship novel. Life is about evolving and trying new things.
7. Keep the bedroom a place for intimacy. All roads lead to intimacy in a marriage. No matter what the problem, or what the crisis, if you have a partner you can lie next to and feel their warmth, connection and physical touch, you can get through it.
8. Talk about your problems but not too much. Talking and venting helps release issues, but unless there is a goal or plan the issues are not resolved.
9. Focus on the positives in your relationship. It is easy to look at any relationship and see the problems. At work consultants get paid for this. Focusing on the positives is much more difficult, especially when we are feeling upset. When you focus on the positives it usually ends in a win/win. This is optimal especially when you compare it to a win/lose.
10. Touch each other every day! No one thing is so important than touch. It doesn’t have to be long, in public or sexual. It does have to be done in a way that communicates “I am in this with you, and it’s where I want to be”. –Mary Jo Rapini

For more information go to: Mary Jo Rapini
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Join me every Thursday Morning on “Mind, Body, Soul with Mary Jo” on Fox 26 at 9a.m. in Houston, Texas.

Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is featured on TLC’s new series, Big Medicine which completed season one and two. She is also a contributing expert for Cosmopolitan magazine, Women’s Health, First, and Seventeen magazine. Mary Jo has a syndicated column (Note to Self) in the Houston Chronicle, is a Love/Relationships columnist to and “Ask Mary Jo” in Houston Family Magazine. She is an intimacy and sex counselor, and specializes in empowering relationships. She has worked with the Pelvic restorative center at Methodist Hospital since 2007.

Mary Jo is a popular speaker across the nation, with multiple repeat requests to serve as key-note speaker for national conferences. Her dynamic style is particularly engaging for those dealing with intimacy issues and relationship challenges, or those simply hanging on to unasked questions about sex in relationships. She was recently a major participant in a symposium for young girls dealing with body image and helping girls become strong women. Rapini is the author of Is God Pink? Dying to Heal and co-author of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom about Health, Sex or Whatever. She has appeared on television programs including Montel, Fox Morning News and various Houston television and radio programs. Keep up with the latest advice at

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