We live in a very child-centred society, which is a wonderful thing, but our preoccupation with our children often comes at the expense of our couple relationship.

At the origin of every family there is usually a couple in love, a couple caught up in romance and passion. However, once children come into the picture, the magic in the couple can quickly disappear into the daily whirlwind of homework, soccer games, ballet lessons, lunch boxes and laundry. Couples often come to therapy because, after investing so much energy and time in the family, especially in the kids, they are no longer happy with their relationship. They feel disconnected emotionally and sexually; they complain about communication, desire, and intimacy issues. The spark between them is gone. They often don’t know how they got to this point or what to do to improve things. It is always preferable to never get to this point, but there is one reason why your couple should be a priority: a strong parental unit makes for a strong family, and if you are still together, your parental unit is only as strong as your couple. Luckily, there are many things couples can do to have a stronger, happier, and more fulfilling relationship. The following are some quick tips that can easily and quickly be put into practice.

1. Schedule sex. Yes, you read that right. Make sex a priority by actually putting it in your schedule. What about the romance, the spontaneity? Yes, in an ideal world lovers would have many opportunities to make sweet love for hours whenever the perfectly timed and mutual desire struck. Unfortunately, between the kids, and work, and social obligations, making a reasonable sexy time schedule and sticking to it is the way to go. We say reasonable because couples often overestimate how much sex they should be having. Start with 30 minutes every 2 weeks. It might not seem like much but it's a start. Still thinking it's not romantic? Well the other option is even less romantic: a sexless marriage.

2. Have your own life. It sometimes feels like work and home is all there is time for, but it is important that each person maintains a life separate from the family unit. When you think about it, nobody likes people who have no friends, no hobbies, and no interests. Find something you are truly passionate about, even if it is model trains. By being passionate about something, anything, it automatically makes you interesting, and even attractive! Isn't that part of the plan? To keep your partner interested? This starts with being interesting.

3. Fight fair. We are not saying don’t fight. We are saying follow the rules for fair fighting. It is normal for couples to disagree. In fact, fighting (relative to apathy) is often an expression of passion and engagement in a couple. However, yelling, name-calling, provoking, or opening old wounds are not necessary or healthy. They are all quite toxic. Resorting to these behaviours with the intention of hurting your partner, getting your point across and/or winning an argument, indicates that you may have a hidden agenda which is something other than resolving conflict. One trick to help you deal with conflict in the couple: pick your battles and decide on which things you can agree to disagree.

4. Be polite to each other. Seems like it's obvious, but think carefully: when was the last time you said please and thank you to your partner? Express gratitude for small things, whether they are expected or not. Saying, “Thank for making a lovely dinner”, will go a long way in making the other person feel appreciated and loved.

5. Talk about the little things. A common issue with couples is that one (or both) feels like the person they are sharing their life with isn't really sharing all that much. By talking about the little things such as work, events, or even something as trivial as the weird guy in line at the market, you are sharing yourself; you are letting the other person in. The foundation of a strong relationship is intimacy, and a large part of emotional intimacy is letting the other into your head on a regular basis. So talk, talk, and then talk some more!

In the end, it all comes down to not taking the other person, or yourself, for granted. Improving a marriage doesn't take grand gestures and big overhauls. All it takes is some consideration, little attentions, and doing all things from a loving place.