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Greetings for 2011 and welcome to my Relationship Success Essentials newsletter! Let’s get our year and our relationship off to a great start by discussing the most important relationship success factor first.

In my seminars, when I ask the audience, “why do you think marriages fail?” The number #1 reason cited by far is “poor communication.” Virtually everyone believes this to be true. But it’s not, in fact extensive research demonstrates that happily married couples often have very poor communication at times, yet they remain happily married.

The accurate answer to this question is that marriages fail due to inattentiveness. Given our hectic lifestyles, for many couples, spending quality time together (without kids) is often a low priority. The relationship tends to get whatever is left over after work, kids, hobbies, television, etc. – and that’s usually not much. Couples naturally tend to put their best foot forward at work and with their kids and forget to make their relationship a priority. Simply put, it’s our spouse, the most important person in our life, that often gets the worst of us – stressed-out,  tired and harried. A good question to ask yourself is, “at my worst, what am I like to live with?”

Because we’re so committed in our relationship, it’s easy to put your partner and the relationship last on the priority totem pole. It makes it easy and convenient to stay late the office or volunteer to coach soccer, because we know our spouse is committed to us and will be there for us at the end of day.

The fact is the most important factor in relationship success is FRIENDSHIP. This is the glue that holds successful couples and families together. All great couples are great friends. They like, respect and admire one another but most importantly they enjoy each others company – they have fun together.

How to foster a better friendship?

1. Make time for each other each week. Have a date and have fun. Don’t use the time to talk about relationship “issues” and problems. Talking about problems should be done at specific times and under certain conditions and “rules” that I’ll talk about later. Instead, focus on enjoying each other and finding interesting things to do and talk about. Talk about whatever – just not issues.

2. Check-In with each other everyday and make it a daily ritual, just like flossing your teeth. Staying connected daily nurtures your friendship and puts a daily deposit of goodwill into your emotional bank account.

3. Make an appointment to talk about relationship “issues.” Remember when you do need to talk about problems, things go much better when you’re feeling connected.