Like most of America, I had no idea Ben Affleck moonlighted as a marriage counselor until his Oscar acceptance speech. But there he was onstage, close to midnight on a Sunday night, doling out the relationship inspiration.
“I want to thank you for working on our marriage for ten Christmases,” Affleck gushed to Jennifer Garner, sitting misty-eyed in the audience. “It’s good. It is work, but it’s the best kind of work, and there’s no one I’d rather work with.”
Wow, I thought. That’s a pretty bold thing to say in front of a bazillion people. Then I glanced over at my husband, fast asleep on the couch and snoring away, and it dawned on me just how right Affleck was. He’d succeeded in airing a dirty little secret about marriage few of us ever discuss: Couples get lazy. This is often because many of us are the opposite of lazy in all other aspects of our lives. My husband and I both work full-time. We have two kids, ages 10 and 8. I write this blog and one about raising Max, who has special needs. We jointly handle Max’s therapy and medical appointments. We take turns getting the kids to various activities on the weekends. Our lives center around theirs.
Our marriage is perfectly fine, but it has basically been running on auto-pilot, I realized that night—and felt kind of sheepish about it. I’m pretty responsible about most things in life. Also: I’m a women’s magazine editor and I’ve worked on countless rev-up-your-marriage articles. Now, mine was in need of a tune-up.
I had a stockpile of strategies in my head; we just needed to put them to use. And in the last couple of weeks, we have. What we’ve been doing: