“The good news is that, as far as your relationship with your spouse is concerned, a little action goes a long way,” says Julia Stone, author of Babyproofing Your Marriage. “You don’t need to have romantic, candlelit, gourmet dinners to keep the flames alive. Small but strategic and regularly practiced gestures are all you need to keep your marriage humming.”

Stone and her co-authors, Cathy O’Neil and Stacy Cockrell, offer these tips to get started:

  • No baby sitter required. You can have a “night out” without leaving the house. One tablecloth, two candles, one bottle of wine, one takeout order, zero electronic gadgets turned on and zero children awake add up to a date night.
  • Don’t ration the romance. Don’t reserve the handholding, hugging and kissing for date nights. Practice SGIs (small gestures of intimacy) every day, even on those days when your spouse and/or kids are driving you crazy. Those are the days you need them more than ever. Small acts of tenderness are the oil that greases the marital wheels.
  • Talk to each other. Ask, “How are you babe?” at least once a day and listen to the answer. Keep it new. The latest studies show couples who inject new activities, situations and ideas into their lives are the happiest. Pursue something new together: a triathlon, a garden, a cooking class or just the crossword puzzle.
  • Remember, you’re doing this for the kids too. Nurturing the relationship with your partner is arguably the most important thing you can do for your children. Your relationship is central to your children’s sense of happiness and security. So keep that in mind the next time the two of you are trying to get out the door with a toddler clamped to your leg and another pleading for a bedtime story.

Adapted from Babyproofing Your Marriage by Julia Stone.  Copyright © Julia Stone, Published by Harper Collins.

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