Want to strengthen your relationship, without turning to outsiders for help? Here are 3 tips from the experts to help you avoid couples’ therapy:

  • First: Make your marriage your top priority, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. Claudia Arp wrote Fighting for Your Empty Nest Marriage. And she says that most people have a hard time saying “no” to their kids, boss, friends and family, which means, they have less time to spend on their relationship. The fix: Schedule time with your partner, just like a doctor’s appointment you wouldn’t skip. That way, when anyone asks if you’re free, it’ll be easy to say “no.”

  • Another tip: Don’t make a big decision until you consider how it could emotionally impact your relationship. Couples therapist Dr. Pat Love says that people assume their relationship will naturally adapt to big changes – like a career move. But consider this: If your new job requires late nights and a lot of traveling, the strain on your relationship might not be worth the raise.

  • The final relationship-strengthening tip: At home, disconnect from your job. Sociologists tracked the cell phone habits of more than 13,000 working adults over a two-year period. The result: The people who spent the most time on job stuff after-hours said that “work spillover” left them with much less energy for their relationship, which lowered the quality of their home life.