When you really think about it, the idealistic concept of marriage doesn’t make a lot of sense.
I mean, what are the chances that two people who stumble upon each other’s path at some point in life can tolerate each other indefinitely?
That they don’t completely freak out when the other person chews in that super annoying, loud way again?
But that’s romance: accepting your spouse’s mistakes and annoying habits without thinking about whether you’ve watched enough crime series to get away with murder.
We love and fight for one another through the unique combination of euphoria and monotony that marriage is … right?
But then again, I’m a romantic at heart, and I have to admit that when I made the decision to take the step into marriage, I knew I would do it in the long run.
1. Get the hell out of you.
Communication is by far the number one rule cited by couples as the key to a lasting marriage. And honestly, I believe in it because I’ve seen how important she is in my marriage.
I know that when I’m really upset I have a tendency to close myself off and hold my emotions and frustrations in, and to counter that, I discuss everything with my husband.
I would even say that I communicate too much because it is so important to me.
We could both get tired of saying it all out, but it makes a huge difference to maintaining a rock solid relationship.
2. Banish the television from the bedroom.
I’ve always had a firm rule of banning the TV from our bedroom. Now that television is everywhere, it has of course become much more difficult for us.
This also applies to Netflix! (Who doesn’t enjoy a little nightly video in bed with their cellphone?)
But by and large, I think our marriage will benefit from having at least one area in our home that is “screen free,” and let me assure you that you may stumble upon other ways to entertain yourself in the bedroom.
3. Choose your battles.
“Today is my grandparents’ 61st anniversary,” said one wise woman. “She always told me to pick your battles and just listen when you know you’re right and bite your tongue.”
With a marriage that has seen everything from the moon landing to this day, I simply claim that this woman has the experience to know what she is talking about.
4. Learn to let go of the little things.
Raise your hand when you are guilty of holding grudges for trifles.
For the wives who are counting the number of times their husbands miss the laundry basket, forgetting the one thing we asked to take from the grocery store, or somehow failed to notice the baby’s explosive diaper, it’s time for a change .
Let go of all the little annoyances because if they don’t matter in the long run, you are only harming yourself.
5. Be selfless every now and then.
I plead guilty of thinking that marriage is somehow about me and my needs because I am a working mother and wife, just as my husband is only there to help me make life run smoothly.
So whenever I start feeling stressed or just “out of sync”, I know that this is a signal to get out of my selfish mind and do something nice for it.
Nothing fancy – it’s enough to make him his favorite breakfast or make sure he has a cup of coffee in the morning. It’s the little things that can mean the most.
6. Work on your own problems.
One of the keys to a long marriage is a willingness to work on your own individual problems that could affect the marriage.
If you need to work on yourself, not only do it for your own personal well-being, but also for the health of your marriage.
7. Don’t rely on your spouse for your own personal happiness.
If you wait for marriage to complete you, you have fallen victim to the great fairy tale lie of marriage.
Your husband won’t make you happy if you’re not happy on your own, period.
8. Be on the same team.
This rule applies especially to spouses who are also parents because they fall into the trap of playing off one another in the midst of upset stomachs and sleepless nights.
I have to remind myself that even at 3 a.m. when we yell at each other and the baby cries, we’re on the same team here.
And let’s hope we stay together on this team. Forever.
9. Accept the best in others.
For us, the key is to accept the best in the other person.
That way we get much less upset when the other does something wrong but tries anyway.
I never intend for him to feel disrespected, and I know he never intends for me to feel unloved. It just changes perspective (which changes everything for me).
Imagine how much marriage would change if we started every disagreement by accepting the best from our partner rather than the worst.
10. Touch him often.
You think now: “Nonsense!” I included this rule because even I often forget it.
I’m generally not a very outgoing person, and when you add that I have four children who need me all the time and a breastfeeding baby, I can end up feeling totally “drained” at the end of the day.
But if you take the effort to physically connect in small ways, it can make a huge difference in keeping in touch with each other.
A simple touch of the hand or a hug can change the mood.
11. Accept that you cannot control your spouse’s actions.
How many times have you thought, “Well, if my husband planned a date night every now and then, I’d be more than willing to do some of his favorite things in return.”
If you wait for more love from your partner first, you may wait forever.
If you want to have a good partner … be a good partner. And in all honesty, if you are loving your husband, the chances are that he will reciprocate.
12. Act like he’s your friend.
It sounds mundane, but it’s important. It’s kind of silly to think about how the rest of the world gets the best version of us while our spouse gets the exhausted, Netflix marathon-in-our-baggy version.
Act like you aren’t married yet. Do things that you know will make your spouse happy, especially if you are exhausted, don’t feel like it, and think you don’t have time for them.
13. Don’t be disrespectful to your spouse.
Don’t put your marital problems online! For many years I brought a lot of the dirty laundry of our marriage to the public – maybe not on the internet, but in conversation with my friends.
Nowadays I try much more consciously not to berate my husband in public, not even in front of my closest friends.
I’m not saying I never get upset about the occasional little thing, but if it’s big enough to complain about, I take that as a sign that it’s big enough to bring up – with my husband, not anyone else .
14. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
When things are simple, we can get by with the basics – respect, humor, and communication.
When things get difficult, we need to go deep inside and think about the bigger picture: the qualities the other person brings, who would be affected if you followed your feelings, and how life will be better later if we Giving up a little of what we want now
Bottom line? Marriage is about the longevity, not just how you feel right now.
15. Remember: love is a choice.
Do you know that warm and cozy feeling you had when you looked your spouse in the eyes and said your vows on your wedding day?
Well, I guarantee you that at some point in your marriage they will experience searing anger and maybe even bitter anger over something incredibly stupid.
But fear not, because luckily for us mere mortals love is a decision, not just a feeling.