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How I'm Improving My Marriage One Week at a Time

Confession: Marriage gets really hard once you add kids to the mix. It's not that you don't still love your spouse, but in the midst of sleep deprivation, wild hormone fluctuations and all the bodily fluids you never (EVER) wanted to deal with, the romance sort of just fizzles. Some days (...weeks...years?) mostly just feel like you're treading water, just trying to survive and not to sink to the bottom of the metaphorical pool.

A lot of the time, parenting simply reduces us down to the very basics—the bare minimum that we need to make it through day and the effort necessary for anything extra can feel akin to climbing Mt. Everest. So after wiping ALL the butts, cutting up ALL the tiny pieces of food, and diffusing ALL the sibling rivalry, the idea of putting extra effort into my marriage feels a bit overwhelming. In this stage of life where we have three tiny children there's little time or energy for the grand gestures of yesteryear, but small gestures? Well, that I can do.

Because it's January—a fresh start to the year—I thought it would be the perfect time to start a new marriage challenge: A year of marital intention.

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It's so easy to become complacent in a marriage and I want to make mine better, so once a week for the entire year, I'll find some small way to nurture my marriage. I'm excited to see what a little bit of effort will do for my relationship with my husband and I'm inviting those of you who may have neglected your marriages a little too to join with me. Remember, that I'm talking about very small things. Yes, there will be 52 of them (or a few less depending on when you start), but nothing crazy.

The best thing about these intentions are that they can be tailored to your own spouse and their interests as well as your schedule. Below are some of my own intentions to get you started, but make this your own and have fun with it!

1. Leave a love note in his car

Doesn't get much easier than this, but honestly, I cannot remember the last time I left my husband a love note. Sad, but true. Hence, this challenge!

2. Wear something I know he loves

I pretty much live in leggings, loose tops and oversized cardigans in 50 shades of grey and black. My husband, however, LOVES when I wear color and/or dresses. It doesn't have to be super fancy, but wearing that red top I know he loves would go a long way toward making him feel loved.

3. Send him a sexy text

I'm not gonna lie... I'm not the best about setting the mood. Basically boot knocking tends to look something like this: Roll into bed exhausted around 11:00 p.m. and rolling over to say something real sexy like, "So, we having sex tonight?" (I'm real smooth). Sending a text to set the tone earlier in the day might be a nice way to get us both in the mood.

It doesn't have to be something big, but the gesture won't go unnoticed.

4. Surprise him with a treat at work

Food is the way to my husband's heart, so showing up at his work for a quick hello with his favorite donut... well, there are very few ways to make him feel more loved.

5. Break out the lingerie

Of course not all husbands are into lingerie, but mine totally is. Sadly, the last time I wore any was about five years ago. This would make his life.

6. Do something different together

Our usual go-to is collapsing on the couch after the battle of bedtime with the kids and watching something on Netflix. Instead, I'll turn one evening into a game night. Maybe he can finally help me understand all the rules to cribbage!

7. Meet him at the door when he gets home from work

This wouldn't work for everyone, but since I'm home with the kids, I could make this happen. Usually when he comes in the door I'm in the middle of making dinner and it's the witching hour and the house is full of chaos. I almost never stop what I'm doing to greet him. I think if I actually stopped and met him at the door with a hug he would be so confused! Maybe I could do this one every day for the week since it's so small.

8. Thank him

Find something seemingly mundane that he always does (i.e. working an extra hour every day) and thank him for it. I think sometimes my husband feels like the work he does is forgotten, and I know the acknowledgement would go a long way.

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9. Take something off his plate

Life with kids is busy and both of us have to-do lists a mile long, so it would be nice to ask him if there is anything I could take off his plate that week. Perhaps running an errand to the bank or doing his laundry since he usually does his own. It doesn't have to be something big, but the gesture won't go unnoticed.

10. Ask to join in on his project

My husband is a project guy. He always has some type of improvement project in the works. Typically he does his thing while I do mine, but I know he would really appreciate it if I tried to pitch in and learn about what he's working on.

And, of course, it wouldn't hurt to share this list with your significant other. Marriage is a two-way street, after all!

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Photograph by: Nakalan McKay

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