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7 Tips for Creating a Harmonious New Year
Great ways you and your spouse can make the new year one that will last a lifetime.

Rev into the new year with a new mindset on improving your marriage.

As the new year rolls in, many of us vow to improve ourselves in a variety of ways, from losing weight to being more organized. But there’s one resolution that has the power to improve almost every aspect of our daily lives and create a climate of positive energy in our home life.

What’s the magic plan? Being nicer to our spouses. Focus on showing your spouse the common courtesy that too often gets lost in the shuffle of everyday living. Many of us are eager to display proper etiquette in business and social situations, but feel free to let the extra effort of niceties slide when at home with the ones we love the most.

Simple courtesies can make your home and your marriage a replenishing oasis for you and your spouse. There are plenty of small gestures that, with a little effort, make life more pleasant for both of you. Here are seven tips for creating a harmonious new year with your spouse:

Show your spouse the courtesy you’d show a stranger. It seems simple (and perhaps even strange to suggest) but too often, being comfortable with each other leads to an erosion of tolerance. Next time you’re tempted to blast your spouse for leaving wet towels on the floor, catch your breath, find your patience and ask politely if they could put them in the hamper (and if you’re the spouse that leaves the laundry on the floor, try to tidy up as a courtesy to your spouse if you know it drives them nuts!).

Laugh with each other more. Make a conscious effort to listen to yourself at your next outing with friends. Does your infectious humor focus on the shortcomings of your spouse? If so, considering looking for laughs elsewhere. Find ways to share a joke with each other instead of at each other's expense.

Say, "Thank you." Acknowledge your spouse for those routine chores, from taking out the trash to cooking dinner, paying the bills, mowing the lawn and doing the laundry. These mundane tasks make your life easier and it would be a great opportunity to express love and appreciation. When you emphasize the positive, you just might see more effort being made. ("Wow, the kitchen looks fantastic! Thanks for cleaning up!").

Show thoughtfulness through "the little things." Grabbing a cup of coffee? Get your significant other one too. Driving by the dry cleaner? Pop in and pick up the clothes. Spouse coming home late from work after a hectic day? Come up with a plan for dinner, even if—especially if—your spouse is usually the one who cooks. And fellas, put that toilet seat down. It’s a small gesture, but in the middle of the day or the middle of the night, it's an important gesture that means a lot to your spouse.

Compliment your spouse in front of other's. If you want to see a significant change in your mate's attitude, show their value in the presence of your friends and family. Treating your spouse with respect and kindness will more than likely result in you being treated the same way. Even if bickering has become a way of life, you have the power to create a relationship of mutual support, laughter and joy. Not a bad way to start the new year!

Smile and be present. It's easy to let your guard down when you walk through the front door. It takes fewer muscles to smile than it does to frown, and your welcome will be much more pleasant if you appear to be happy around your spouse and kids. Show as much attention to your family as you do the television and a miracle may take place in front of your eyes.

Spend some time alone. While it's easy to find reasons to stay busy with the house, the job and the kids, it's important to spend time alone with your spouse. Don't forget to schedule a weekly or monthly date with your mate and then consider it an important relationship builder. Put as much time into the planning as you would a special recipe or important business meeting.

Making a small investment into the care and maintenance of your marriage will be worth the extra effort. Happy New Year!

Diane Gottsman, a nationally recognized etiquette expert, is the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in etiquette training for corporations, universities and individuals, striving to polish their interpersonal skills. You can reach Diane at 877-490-1077 or www.protocolschooloftexas.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @: www.twitter.com/DianeGottsman.

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Over 1 million couples turn to Hitched for expert marital advice every year. Sign up now for our newsletter & get exclusive weekly content that will entertain, educate and inspire your marriage.

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