These serious and silly suggestions will make your marriage stronger.
Have A Special Place
It can be a favourite restaurant or the corner café where you always go for coffee. It can be a local park or far-off vacation spot. The “where” doesn’t matter as long as you have someplace memories are made together.
Use Good Manners
“Please” and “thank you” shouldn’t be something you just teach your kids or say to strangers. If anything, nice manners count all the more when you’re married. Say “please” and “thank you” for everything: For making the bed. For passing the butter. For picking up after the dog. Being gracious and grateful for the mundane matters.
Know When to Say “When”
When you’re falling in love, you probably labor under the delusion that you’ll always agree on everything. Not so much. As you learn what topics you’ll never agree on, politely agree to disagree. It serves no one to keep beating up the same old themes.
Hold A Firm Belief in “‘Til Death Do Us Part”
The tough parts always come. But they also pass.
Let the Other Person Have the Last Bite
Okay, maybe not every time! But sometimes you can sacrifice the last piece of pie or the last bagel.
Dress Up for Each Other
It’s acceptable to wear jeans and sweatpants almost anywhere. But it’s also nice to put on your fancy clothes once in a while to show you made the extra effort (like you did when you were dating, right?!).
Spend Time with Another Couple You Both Like
It reinforces your own bond.
Know When to Say “I’m Sorry” and When to Say “I Forgive You”
Which is over and over and over. Living with someone is messy, and we’re all imperfect. Get over your pride, and know when to let it go. Perpetual pouting and grudge-holding don’t build up a marriage.
Opposites may attract, but it can be tricky to manage opposing beliefs in the long run. Similar views on the world, faith, and life in general are what keep you both working toward common needs and goals.
Hold Special Traditions
Sunday afternoon walks. Exchanging Valentines. Watching a favourite holiday movie together. Shared rituals keep you close and highlight what’s unique about you as a couple.
Write Love Notes
A lipstick kiss on the mirror. A scrap of paper tucked in the other person’s bag. A scribble on the edge of the grocery list. Your notes can be naughty or nice, but it’s sweet to find a note that says “I love you” where you least expect it.
Respect Each Other
Aretha got it right. Talking down to the other person, belittling them, and mean-spirited teasing aren’t what makes a marriage work in the long run.
Make A Big Deal Out Of Anniversaries
Whether it’s acknowledging your first date or your 20th anniversary, make an effort. A card, a dinner out, a breakfast date—whatever you can do to honour the day the two of you became a couple.
Frame A Photo
Your wedding photo does not count. Print it, frame it, and display it.
Kiss “Hello” and “Goodbye”
Don’t let being in a hurry steal these tokens of your affection. Greet each other every single time you leave the house; you never know what can happen when you’re apart. Then rejoice in the reunion when the other one comes home.
Compliment The Other Person in Public
Let your spouse hear you say something good about him or her to someone else. It’s sort of a thrill to hear yourself bragged on, and who doesn’t need an occasional pat on the back?
Cultivate Random Acts of Humor
My gram always said it’s better to laugh than to cry. If you can look at the ridiculousness of the moment instead of freaking out every time something goes awry (whether it’s lost luggage, flooded basements, or clogged sinks!), you’ll be a lot less likely to give up on each other.
Spend Time Alone
Know when to take a break and visit with friends or nurture your own interests. Because, yeah, sometimes we all do get on each other’s nerves. Absence can make the heart grow fonder and reset the ticker on your patience.
Have Unplugged Time
It’s not the most uplifting experience to try to talk to you partner when he’s surfing the web or texting. Establish a tech-free zone (or time) when you interact with each other and do real things in the real world: Go watch a sunset. Listen to the birds sing. Take a walk. Do anything together but stare at your phones.
Let The Other Person Pick
Not all the time. But occasionally let the other person choose an activity or movie, even if it’s one you don’t particularly enjoy.
Have Your Own Private Language and Jokes
It’s a top-secret code only two people in the whole world know!
Plan New Adventures
There’s comfort in the familiar, but there’s a sense of excitement in finding new hobbies and activities to share. Take a day trip to place you’ve never visited. Sign up for salsa lessons. Try a restaurant on the other side of town.
Enjoy “Remember When?” Sessions
Reliving good memories will make you laugh, kindle feelings of contentment that you’ve come this far, and remind you why you like each other in the first place.
It’s human nature to want to strike back when the other person is being ugly to you. But it’s okay to be kind instead of being right. Of course, you won’t always be able to take the high ground (hello to my hotheaded temper!), but it feels pretty good when you do. And it often diffuses the situation.
Celebrate Little Victories
A good annual physical. A presentation that went well. The fact that it’s finally Friday. We often ignore the moments of small but real joy that make up our lives each week. But they are what matters. Go out and regularly celebrate the life you’ve made together.
This article originally appeared on Women’s Health US
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