Below are invaluable tips from a man who was recently divorced. And what, you might wonder, would someone who no longer married have to offer someone who still committed (yet)? A LOT.

Here is what he had to say, “Obviously, I’m not a relationship expert. But there’s something about my divorce being finalized this week that gives me perspective of things I wish I would have done differently¦ After losing a woman that I loved, and a marriage of almost 16 years, here’s the advice I wish I would have had…”

01_Pic01 (1)

#1 Never stop courting

This means different things to different people, but the gist is men, you always need to keep pursuing your lady and ladies, you need to keep allowing him to explore you. Choosing the same mate over and over again is an awesome privilege. Always keep the love alive – keep it interesting. If that looks like setting up a date night once a week, perfect. Get a sitter for the kiddos and focus on the two of you. If you can’t keep things fresh between you – your family is likely to suffer.

#2 Guard your heart and your eyes

The intimacy and closeness shared between a husband and wife is not ever for anyone else. There is always to remain a safe space where each of your can be free to completely be yourselves. This also means sexually – letting the images of others roll around in our heads whether it is something we saw on TV or read in a novel is dangerous territory. We are natural fantasizers and we do ourselves and our mates a greater service when we reserve the power of imagination for them. So imagine together and keep exploring!

#3 Never stop falling in love

The love abyss is limitless – unless you decide otherwise. Always arrange for situations that help foster your commitment and your relationship. Find out what each other’s love language is and be sure to do something that enriches the other person – meet them where they are at.

#4 Always seek the gold – and call it out

Inevitably, your spouse will know you like no one else. There are lots of awesome things – and the not so awesome too. Always decide to see the “gold” in the other person and call it out. Let them know, “Hey, that was way cool what you did just there.” Or, if there is something that needs to be addressed, “I know that wasn’t what you meant, but here’s what happened.” Communicating bravely with the other person keeps things open and creates an environment where one can thrive.

#5 It’s not your job to change the other person (or control them)

Trying to change or control the other will never do. Many people think things will be different after the wedding day. Neep. We are who we are – we can grow or remain the same. We are each responsible for our own thoughts, words and actions. If we get caught up in the temptation to control another, it’s not a bad idea to seek understanding as to why that is – chances are high that there is another issue at work (e.g., fear, etc.).

#6 Take accountability for your actions

No one is more responsible for your own actions than you. That covers integrity at work, at home and includes taking the trash out. We each need to own up to what we have signed up to and deliver whether we feel like it or not.

#7 Blaming the other person is often not the best plan

This tags on to the previous one…but when things go wrong, we don’t get to blame someone else. First off, it looks bad and secondly it does not honor the other person. There are always two sides – there is a catalyst word/action and there is a response. By committing to respond rather than react, one can more easily see what really happened. Quite often, events that result in blow-ups are chain-reactions…it’s good to keep an eye out for patterns and triggers and find a means to discuss them.

#8 Men like to fix – Women want to be heard; Learn the differences and act appropriately

When a woman faces a challenge, often, she just wants to be understood. Having someone validate, not attempt to solve, her feelings about an issue is key for her. She is smart – she might not be at the “solve it” stage yet. Remember that these are the emotions that assist us when stuff really hits the fans in our lives – and the men are like, wow, I don’t have that. Thank goodness women are wired like that. Well, this is part of that and needs to be carefully taken care of by her man. For men, ladies, they are great at compartmentalizing and often need “cave time” when figuring things out. They tend to be focused on one thing at a time. It is sometimes, when they are in a funk, a good idea to just say, “Hey, I see you’re processing some things and I want to help you in a way that is useful right now. How can I help?” This gives him the ability to choose without having to openly disclose and discuss what he might yet be ready to. This is just as critical for women to handle well so when he does “come back around” he knows it is “safe” for him to discuss what he was processing earlier.

#9 Be silly

Nothing keeps things upbeat like being really silly! Learn to laugh at little things and remember to laugh at yourself too!

#10 Fill each other’s love buckets daily

Be sure to “speak” each other’s love language daily. Whether that’s doing an act of service, giving a gift, spending quality time, giving words of affirmation or non-sexual physical touch…it means the world to the other person.

#11 Be present

Watching TV or being on the internet and saying “I’m listening” might not cut it long-term. It is best to communicate that you are giving your undivided attention.. If needed, decide on a timeframe where you both agree to give your undivided attention – sometimes that takes the “sting” of an interruption out for the other person.

#12 Really reach to meet each other’s needs sexually

Sexuality is an awesome thing that changes – much like the rest of us – over time. It’s important to keep talking – keep the communication going so you know what is working and what is not. Better, if something is not as pleasurable for the other person, it’s good that you both know that so you can also make sure there are parts that are. This is huge in ensuring a healthy sexual relationship. As we all know, orgasms are mental as much as they are physical. So if the man needs to think about something else so he can give his partner multiple without finishing for a while, go for it. A smart man knows that if she can count on getting her motor going each time and likely he’ll finish each time, it’s a win-win and makes sex something to look forward to rather than “he just gets his each time.” Seriously…wish we learned this when we were teenagers.

#13 Don’t be an idiot

Don’t do stuff to your spouse that you would not do to your best friend. I mean, really? Do what you say you are going to, when you promised, etc.

#14 Give each other space

If there was one thing the Mars and Venus discussion taught us, it was that women and men are on different rhythms. Men are like rubber bands – they go out and come back. Women are like waves – they go up and down. This is so very true. We might laugh at these gender self-help books, but there is a lot of truth in them. Give each other the space you need. For women, they usually don’t need a timeline to “come back” – it’s natural. But right after an intimate encounter (whether sexual or otherwise), men tend to move away. If he’s not on a rhythm to come back by a predictable time, this creates anxiety for the woman (fear of abandonment, etc.) so setting a timeline is a great idea.

#15 Be vulnerable

Being emotionally accessible and real with each other is necessary for a deep relationship. Tip: women have sex in order to be intimate while men, on the other hand, are intimate in order to have sex. Being vulnerable is the key to an intimate relationship – so it’s in the interest of both to seek this level of openness.

#16 Be transparent

Being transparent keeps the level of trust right where it needs to be. This is where community can help – that is, people who are close to you and can help with those “gotchas” in life. For example, the gardener’s assistant is really hot. She should tell her girlfriends for sure about it so they can ask her how she is doing in her thoughts and actions in order to stay out of temptation. The same applies for the hot new gal at work or those “harmless” calendar pin-ups. Remember, the imagination is powerful – don’t shortchange yourself with a fantasy that will never meet the level of intimacy you are really seeking and is available in your spouse. Transparency is the best plan to safeguard your relationship for the long-haul. And, just like marriage, it takes work but has amazing rewards.

#17 Never stop growing together

Always keep exploring and challenging each other with new ideas, fun and laughter. Never stop growing intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.

#18 Make decisions about money together

One person, usually the number-lover, may be great for keeping the books straight. But when it comes to what to do with money, it’s best to make decisions together. Prioritize your funds together, develop plans and stick to them. When one person does all the decision-making, things tend to be lopsided and will show up in other aspects of the relationship (and usually at inopportune times).

#19 Forgive immediately

Can’t get enough of this one. If you think you don’t need forgiveness or that you have it all together, get rid of your second set of keys, your password list, the eraser off your pencil and the delete/backspace key on your keyboard. For everyone else, mistakes happen and we all need to erase something that we deliberately did in an off-moment or accidentally did. I dare you to try to remove the key(s) from your board…. Forgiveness means you return to the center-line…it’s a new set of downs. It’s a brand new start. Don’t keep score…

#20 Love always wins!

…rather, always choose love! Love always wins. Love is a choice. Sure, there are emotions, but that is not what carries us. Love is putting the other ahead of yourself, boing out of your way to be kind and really support the other person. It is rarely convenient or easy. Always choose to love!