Mike Foster, author, speaker and host of the Fun Therapy podcast, talks with host, Kristen Ivy, about how couples can strengthen their bond during the stressful holiday season.


  • Try the 3:30 rule. In the podcast, Mike Foster shares how the 3:30 rule — three hugs a day, lasting 30 seconds each — will deepen your connection with your spouse through physical touch and the release of serotonin, a hormone and neurotransmitter often called, the “happy chemical.” Serotonin regulates mood, social behavior, and sexual desire among others. Try setting an alarm on your phone as a reminder to do the 3:30 rule.


There’s a popular meme making its rounds on the internet this holiday season: “I firmly believe any time spent with my family over the holidays shouldn’t count as vacation time.”

Every emotion seems to be heightened during the holiday season. Sure, the season is supposed to be filled with happiness, memorable moments, and precious time spent with the ones we love, but for many, the holidays are often a trigger for bad memories and emotions, financial struggles, and relationship issues. Any of this sound familiar?

Maintaining any relationship is hard, and will be even harder to do during the holidays. Mike Foster, an author, speaker, host of the Fun Therapy podcast, says he and his wife, Jennifer, started to notice a trend amongst their friends and acquaintances with 20-year-old marriages: Once their teenage kids went off to college, their marriages crumbled. Why? Because the couples spent most of their energy strategically pouring into their kids and not into their marriage.

Increasing togetherness

The goal for couples, Mike says, is not to fix your problems. The goal is to increase your togetherness. Creating and maintaining the connection of being together will not eliminate your problems, but it will strengthen your marriage enough to help you face any problems you have together.

So how does that work exactly? Especially for couples who have complicated situations, from second marriages to growing resentment to new parents? The key is carving out time, Mike says. Depending on what life stage you’re in, you might not have a whole lot of it, but it doesn’t take much. Mike encourages couples to carve out as little as 20-30 minutes a week where you can just be a couple. During that time, don’t talk about the kids, about politics, or anything else other than what you’re grateful for, and your dreams and future goals.

To kickstart your journey to togetherness, Mike and his wife, Jennifer, have created Five Dates, a workbook to help deepen connection in dating, engaged, and married couples. You can find more information about it here.

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