- Listen - take the time to listen to your mate, and learn about what they're doing, what they're feeling. Do you know what your spouse does from 8 to 5 every day? That's close a bit more than a quarter of the life you've chosen to spend together. Do you know what's in your mate's heart? I knew a woman who thought her husband was happy and content...until he killed himself. "I never asked him how he really felt."
- Touch - we're physical beings, and we've been given a sensitive skin by God for a reason. A gentle touch is one of the most reassuring things you can give your spouse, and, conversely, withholding touch is one of the most destructive. During the bad old days of Communism in Romania, infants whose parents were sent to labor camps were put in orphanages where they were rarely held, or even touched. Many of these children grew up to become the focus of adoption horror stories in the US - they had no feeling of empathy for living creatures, and no regard for anyone but themselves.
- Do - you and your mate have different tastes in many things, and it's far more important to do thing together than to do what you want to do. Guys, that means you have to watch "Sleepless in Seattle" for the sixth time, and stay awake. Ladies, get the earplugs out, for you are going to the local racetrack. And no "suffering martyr" pose. You're not starving in Rwanda - and there's something to enjoy in any situation. Grow up, take your place at your mate's side, and at the very least take pleasure in their pleasure.
- Talk - always speak positively of your mate. In public, certainly, but also in private.If you have to criticize, do so with care, making sure to build up your mate's positive attributes. Be accurate in what you say, and never go into predicting the future. The words "you always" should be banned from your lexicon, but no one "always" does anything. You don't know the future - but your words can shape it, so make sure they shape it for good.
- Support - everyone has bad patches in their life or their confidence, and it's your job to help build your mate back up. Emphasize the good, and the abilities that you admire. And be patient, because some things take time to go through - this is what you signed up for, this is the "for worse" part.
- Make love - sex is a part of marriage that some Christians seem to feel was one of God's mistakes, except for procreation. It's actually part of the emotional/physical/spiritual glue that holds marriages together, and has to be included. No time? Pass on the PBS series you've been watching. Sex is more important. Tired? It isn't all that labor intensive. Excuses are a way to create distance, and once that distance opens up - going back isn't easy. And guys - remember that for your wife, making love in the evening begins before breakfast, in the way that you treat her...and that they way you treat her should not have strings or expectations attached. Sound confusing? It really isn't. Treat her like you love her, all day, every day, and that she doesn't have to "do" anything to be treated that way. Simple, eh?
- Pray - pray together, every day. Invite God into your marriage, and make sure that you try to see your spouse as God does - as a precious individual worthy of the greatest care and love you can give.
There you go. Do this - and your marriage will be better. Guaranteed.