One of the smartest things anyone ever said to Josh was that marriage is like a garden. You have to tend to it every day lest it become overgrown with weeds. Now we try to nip any issues that may come up in the bud. Just today, for example, Josh left me holding our 21-month-old daughter while he ran inside to grab a last-minute item before we set off to catch a ride into town. He checked his email and (as happens so often when you run your own business) got caught up in a work-related emergency that needed immediate attention. When he emerged ten minutes later explaining what was up, rather than a) blowing up or b) seething and saying nothing, I chose option c) gently reminding him that he left the two of us hanging and that a quick “hey, something’s come up, I’ll be a few minutes” would go a long way. He apologized, we both felt better, lesson learned, annoying afternoon averted!

Another super important tip: Make your relationship a priority, especially when you have a family. What your kids need most is to be loved by parents who are happy and productive participants in the world. And what keeps your partner feeling great is a spouse who feels great too. So get a babysitter so you can have date night, or take that ceramics (or karate or skydiving) course that you’ve always wanted to take. The whole family will be better off.

Last word to the wise–everything is a negotiation and agreement. Remember that there are two parties in the relationship, and together you’re so much greater than the sum of your parts. When you’re headed out to see District 9 instead of Julie & Julia, you may just find that the action flick is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Brooke Williams and Josh Liberson