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Let Valentine's Day Inspire Your Marriage To Get Back On Track
It's simple to dismiss Valentine's Day as a phony holiday. Instead, let the love and romance around you nudge your marriage back on track.

Get that spark back starting with a little Valentine's Day celebration.

For the life of me I cannot understand why there is such a stigma for couples to see a counselor. In any other area of life when a person is down itís natural to seek out help.”
Valentineís Day is about remembering to appreciate and do something nice for your spouse. Itís also a good time to ask: How much time and effort do I put into my marriage? And if the all-important couple-connection has faded and youíve hit a bumpy patch, why is there such a stigma for those couples who want to seek out help to get their marriage back on trackóand what's wrong if Valentine's Day is the spark to get things going?

Yes, thereís probably too much commercialism around Valentine's Day so the true intent gets lost. The love and appreciation we desire to express toward our spouse usually comes in the form of buying a small gift or doing something nice for them, which is a good start. Now it's time to think about the other 364 days a year.

Believe me, most couples do not spend nearly enough time appreciating and doing nice things for each other. Valentineís Day is our once a year reminder that we need to put time and effort into our relationship.

It's true that being married today is more complicated than years past and that affects a coupleís ability to stay connected. There are so many factors that affect a modern day partnership. Thereís a New York Times article thatís making the rounds on the internet about equality in marriage.

According to Census data, 64% of U.S. marriages with children under 18 have an 'egalitarian marriage'óthe relationship is built on equal power, shared interests and friendship. While these peer marriages lead to greater emotional satisfaction, they may also have unexpected negative impact on romantic lives.

A study called "Egalitarianism, Housework and Sexual Frequency in Marriage," found if men did what researchers characterized as feminine choresólike folding laundry, cooking or vacuumingóthe couple had sex 1.5 fewer times per month than those with husbands who did what were considered masculine chores, like taking out the trash or fixing the car.

Everyone thought being equal was the magical solution to couples being more connected, and in some ways itís better and in some ways itís not. Itís complicated.

Unfortunately there's no magic bullet. Each coupling is like a fingerprint, and how they make their relationship work is unique to them. After my 11 years of marriage and two kids it seems to me there are relationship basics: respect, trust, communication, realistic expectations, and putting time into to your relationship.

Staying On Top of Your Game

Throughout our relationships we fall in and out of love. Every relationship goes through periods where both people want to throw in the towel and walk away. Every relationship undergoes a natural growth that changes the individuals so both come out the other side not knowing who the other person is. Itís when we are in these places we need to put our head down, work hard on the relationship basics and put needed time and energy into each other.

For the life of me I cannot understand why there is such a stigma for couples to see a counselor. In any other area of life when a person is down itís natural to seek out help. Think of Olympic athletes who have multiple coaches helping them through slumps. Yes, counselors can be pricey, but divorce and the emotional cost of divorce is far more expensive.

The simple step of reconnecting over a couple's retreat, for example, can have huge benefits. As it is, articles (such as this one) are the most common reference point we haveóand when you read comments posted on relationship articles itís usually from couples who gleefully and smugly let you know that their relationship is fantastic. Unfortunately, there's a large contingent who suffer in silence wondering whatís wrong with us.

And even though I loathe reading these smug couple comments there is one truism that every couple must come to terms with: those smug couples have the passion, love and lust to continue paying attention to their relationship. It is their priority. Going to something like a couple's conference, therapist or counselor can show you how to make your relationship a priority.

Making Your Marriage A Priority

Sometimes itís easier to be busy than it is to do the hard work to make a relationship happy and healthy. As well, too many couples feel that because theyíve made a life commitment to another person, they can let that part slide. Itís simply not true. The more time and effort you put into your relationship, the more personal and couple happiness you will reap. It starts with realistic expectations about what a long term relationship means.

There is a difference between falling in love and being in love. Passion is synergistic and cyclical. You will fall in and out of love on a regular basis. You take responsibility for our relationship happiness, and not expect it to happen by itself. You make it happen, regularly.

What you do and say at 8:00 a.m. impacts what happens at 10:00 p.m. If you once found your spouse attractive, so will someone elseÖ and if you arenít paying enough attention someone else might.

Consider this: What would your relationship look like if every day you treated each other as you did when you were first dating? If that doesnít work, always remember, when the grass looks greener on someone elseís lawn itís time to start watering your own. If you want more love and romance in your life you have to invest the time and energy into making your relationship great.

Not having enough time to invest is not a great excuse because who we decide to mate with over a lifetime becomes the core source of our happiness or unhappiness. Couples who have the passion, love and lust continue pay attention to their relationship. It is their priority. Let the relationship attention that comes with Valentine's Day be the spark to get things back on track for your marriage. Happy Valentine's Day!

Dr. Trina Read is the founder of VivaXO.com; a leading relationship and sexual health expert and educator; and is a best selling author, media expert, syndicated blogger, international speaker, magazine columnist, and spokeswoman. Trina has just launched Sensual Tastes Events, an interactive workshop blending the pleasures of food and sex education. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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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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