Marriage & Life Partners · Relationships & Dating

Valentine’s Day Relationship Tune-Up

It’s that time of year again and the ubiquitous reminders that Valentine’s Day is here gives us a chance to do a relationship “health check.” While it may seem to be humming along, a good relationship needs care, maintenance and plenty of attention if it is going to survive the long haul. It is easy to forget this in today’s modern world, when everyone is overwhelmed by the demands of our fast-paced lives, which is why it is more important than ever to keep some of these principles in the front of your mind.

Here’s a list of suggestions, many of which will be familiar to you, but which cannot be repeated often enough, on how to promote and maintain long-term happiness.


Time Together

Though you are living together, actually spending “quality time” together can be remarkably difficult. There are some periods of marriage (early career, young children) when couples feel more like roommates than lovers. This can become very hard to overcome, and may become the standard that exists long after the need for it has disappeared. It is crucial that you find ways to have a small amount of time that allows for the friendship that brought you together to continue to thrive.


Talk, Talk, Talk

Though some men say they don’t like to talk, everyone needs to communicate and wants to be heard, and if you have time for nothing else, set aside time for this with your partner. The New York Times has published a “Modern Love” essay (about a list of 36 questions that strangers were instructed to ask each other that sparked intimate conversations.) The essay was called “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This.” We all have a profound need to communicate our deep feelings and thoughts and feel we are heard. One of reasons we fall for co-workers is because we find ourselves spending so much time with them—and often they know and understand more about our lives than our spouses do. How does that happen? No time to communicate.

I once knew an elderly couple, both psychoanalysts, who had a 60-year marriage that seemed blissful. The husband was devastated when his wife died, but he told me they had some very rough years and spent time in counseling. Their therapist made an ironclad prescription, which he felt had saved them: Every morning, without fail, they got up before the children did and spent a half hour just sharing thoughts and feelings and staying “in touch.”


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  • Andrea February 14, 2018 at 8:04 am

    Dr Ford thank you for these simple but oh so important reminders.