1. The reasons for the failure of a marriage are numerous and mostly well known… which makes you wonder why it is that so many marriages fail in this country. Cheating on a spouse will often end a marriage, as will abusive behavior. A lot of people blame a failure to communicate or a lack of affection for their splitting. How many times have you heard divorcées say, “He/she never listened when I was talking,” or “The passion was gone”? And all too often the person being left only then realizes that he/she could have saved the relationship if only they had been more attentive. Many couples who split have no desire to do so; they simply can’t live with each other anymore.

    I can’t give advice on how to save a relationship in which affection has died. Perhaps many of these marriages are based on a mutual infatuation instead of genuine love. While love is enduring, infatuations always wear off eventually. Neither can I advise couples who lack compatibility. It’s always a good idea to assure that a couple is compatible for the most part before leaping into marriage, but a lot of folks just can’t resist leaping before looking.

    However, I am prepared to give advice—mostly to men—on how to keep a marriage happy, provided both partners genuinely love each other and are essentially compatible. It’s a fairly simple five point plan, but you have to stick to the plan for it to work.

    By now you have to be asking yourself, Just why does this Wagner fellow think that he’s qualified to give advice to married couples? To which I reply, “Do you have any idea how many marriage counselors are divorcées?” Here’s my credentials: I’ve been very happily married—to the same woman—for 12 years, I’ve been following my own advice all of those years and, so far, have had what I would consider great success. I mean really: what woman would stay with me of all people for that long if I didn’t make an effort to keep her? And in reality, the effort is very minimal. Here’s what you do, guys.

    1. Listen when your spouse talks to you. I know this seems like common sense, but it might surprise you how often wives feel as if they’re talking to a post when speaking with their husbands. If you are doing something when your wife starts talking to you, stop what you are doing. Women may be able to multitask, but it’s a rare man that can accomplish this feat. So stop whatever you’re doing and give your wife all of your attention when she talks to you.
    2. Tell her that you love her, often. I try to do this at least once a day, but she should hear it from you no less than twice a week. One of the most effective ways to do this if you’re only going to do it now and then is to call her at her place of work to tell her. Chicks dig that.
    3. Hug and/or cuddle—and do it every day. I know, guys: this is a toughie for a lot of men for some reason. But women need this intimate contact and need it often. Don’t rush it, either. Remember, hugging and cuddling don’t have to lead to sex, and when they do it takes a considerably longer time.
    4. Tell her that you appreciate all of the little things she does for you—and volunteer to help. That way, if she complains that you never help you can cite time and date. But the most important thing is to make sure that she never feels taken for granted. If she knows that you appreciate all that she does for you she’ll be happier about doing those things for you, and how can that be a bad thing?
    5. Be honest with her at all times. This does not mean that you have to divulge every seedy moment of your past, but be completely honest in what you do tell her. Most people are terrible liars, mainly because it’s so hard to keep track of them and they get caught by accidentally changing their story. This only leads to bad things and a lack of trust. You can’t have a happy marriage without trust.

    Just remember, men: You are either incredibly lucky or divinely blessed to have snagged this wonderful woman; marrying her was perhaps the only smart decision you have made in your otherwise miserable life and you want to keep her. If you keep her happy, she’ll have no reason to leave.

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