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by Beth Sonnenberg | January 17, 2018

Beth Sonnenberg, LCSWIt is widely known that the key to a solid relationship is communication, but who has time for that? It's so much easier to text your husband/wife/partner than it is to talk face-to-face. Think of your relationship like a stay in a fancy hotel; there's a logical timeline that needs to be followed to make your experience more pleasant.

Wake-up call
The alarm goes off to signal the start of your day. I recommend keeping morning communication to a minimum. There is a lot to do to get yourself (and possibly children and/or pets) ready for the day, so a few quick sentences about the day's plans will suffice. This is not a good time for lengthy or important conversations, like how to handle the huge American Express bill that just arrived, or whose family you'll visit for the holidays.

Afternoon check-in
Just like checking into a hotel, the late afternoon is a great time to call each other to ask how the day is going and touch on any logistics for later in the day. This check-in might cover what time you'll be home, ideas for dinner, kids' after-school schedules or a TV show to watch later.

Dinner reservation
When you go to a nice restaurant, you'll get a call in advance to confirm your reservation. A confirmation call on your way home from work is a great way to lock in your dinner plans and cover logistics such as picking up something at the supermarket or getting meal prep underway. All members of the household should honor the dinner reservation. It's the perfect time for a mini-meeting to reconnect and discuss the day (without any iPhones, iPads or iCarly on TV), even if just for 10 minutes.

Turn-down service
The hotel staff comes in to prepare your room at bedtime. As nice as that might be, it's up to you to establish a bedtime ritual. Once dinner is cleaned up and the kids are in bed, it is time for you and your partner to sit or lie down and talk to each other. Share stores about family or work, worries or fears, plans for the weekend, and other thoughts. It is important to connect with each other before going to bed. (Connecting through sex is great, too, but that's a topic for another article.)

Happy hour
Sometimes the weekend is so busy with sports, parties and activities that it might be even harder to find time to talk with your partner. Saturday nights might be booked with social plans that include others. I recommend leaving home an hour early to stop at a bar or coffee shop and talk, or even do a household errand together, before meeting up with your friends.

Date night
If you don't have plans for Saturday night, make some. It is very important to make the effort to dress up for each other and get out of your house for a date. Saying that you don't have a sitter, you're too tired or you can't afford it are lame excuses. Your relationship needs to be a priority. A sunset walk in the park can be a lovely (free) date, too.

Satisfaction survey
Hotels typically ask you to provide feedback about your stay. You and your spouse should do the same. Tell each other things that pleased you about each other's actions. Positive feedback is always appreciated. If you have a complaint, voice it as well. The feedback you give one another should be about a behavior that is changeable and not a characteristic about your partner. For example, "Why don't we share the task of putting the kids to bed? That way we'll both have bonding time with them, and we'll have more time together later in the evening." Harboring resentment leads to anger that can grow and later lead to more problematic behavior - like meeting someone else at a luxury hotel.

Good luck and enjoy your stay.

Beth Sonnenberg, LCSW, is a relationship expert in private practice in Livingston, N.J.