Advice from a wife who's still in love after 40 years!
25+ Tips to help foster marriage harmony
I’m amazed and proud. This year marks 40 years of a lasting love connection with my husband. And in honor of our four decades, I’ve put together what I consider to be a 'master class' list of 24 pieces of choice marriage advice as well as some artful happy-marriage reminders for your home. Plus, just scroll to the bottom for 45 additional marriage tips!
1. Accept your spouse 'as is'
Accept your spouse for who they are, not for who you want them to be. Draw a circle around yourself and say out loud, ' This is the only person in my life I can really change.'
2. Invest in counseling
We bring ‘baggage’ from our past into marriage. Unpacking it with a professional is the best investment you can make in the health of your marriage relationship. A good counsellor can help identify toxic patterns, discover new ways to resolve conflicts, and build bonds of trust, all in a safe, neutral location.
3. Assume the Best
Assume the best in one another. Make a decision to believe your partner is doing their best. Remember “their best” doesn’t mean perfection. It means you give them the benefit of the doubt that in a situation they’re doing the best they can at that moment in time.
4. Beware of entropy
Relationships require a commitment to continued tending. Beware of entropy. Never underestimate the power of doing things like being generous, showing appreciation, and saying thank you.
5. Value flexibility
Life throws unexpected curve balls. Know the importance of flexibility and adaptability, remembering you and your spouse are a team.
6. Be curious
Growth in marriage requires curiosity. Being curious together can result in learning experiences that strengthen your relationship. If we’re willing to learn from our mistakes as they relate to our partner’s needs and desires, we’ll thrive.
7. Learn how to leave arguments
Disagreements are unavoidable in any marriage. However, one defining aspect of a strong, healthy marriage is the ability to move past a fight. Learning how to leave an argument and come back to the table afterwards is vital. Talking about what happened and owning your part creates trust.
8. Remember your commitment
Consider putting your vows into bullet points. Regularly do some gestures to support each point. When you’ve gone through them all, start over. Familiarity and routine has a way of blurring our initial commitment.
9. They're not mind readers
Your beloved is not a mind reader. And neither are you. It's much better to calmly and respectfully say what's bothering you. Don't expect the other person to read your mind; that's immature and selfish.
10. Protect your marriage
Treasure, protect and nurture your marriage by surrounding yourself with friends who strengthen and fortify your relationship. Your friends influence your marriage more than you realize.
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11. Keep the central focus
Create an imaginary circle around your marriage. As kids come on the scene, make sure your relationship remains the central focus. Remember, you were "man and wife" before "mom and dad." Commit to the goal of regularly reconnecting - walk, chat on the porch, play a board game. Just connect.
12. Make sex a priority
Make time for sex a regular priority. Put it on your schedule and stick to it. Just like other self-care activities (e.g.exercise) if you don’t block time out in your schedule, it’s likely not going to happen. Rather than this putting a damper on things, most couples actually say that when they schedule sex, they actually anticipate alone time more. So in reality, it’s not as un-sexy as it sounds.
13. Commit to self care
It’s easy to lose yourself in the flurry of family life. Attend to yourself. Whether it’s taking a course, revisiting a hobby, or just a bubble bath, you’ll be a better spouse and parent.
14. You're on the same team
Remember you are both on the same team when kids' tantrums take over. Stay steady and keep calm. Develop a ‘tag-out’ system or code word/hand signal that you and your spouse can use, that signals your need to cool off. Giving each other breaks through the epic season of crying fits helps preserve energy levels. Mutual support fortifies bonds.
15. Verbalize appreciation
Feeling appreciated is like oxygen in a relationship. Raising kids, working, keeping the house together and all the other balls that need to be juggled is a monumental task. One of the biggest dissatisfactions in a marriage is feeling unappreciated. Praise is the fuel in our gas tanks that give us the mojo to face another day of parenting.
16. Don't get lost
A lot of parents feel they lose their identities after having kids, but committing to a pursuit of individual interests fortifies the emotional reserves that can actually strengthen your relationship.
17. Accept parenting differences
You and your spouse aren’t going to parent the same - you’re two different individuals. Expect differences and know that it is far better to accept them than to fight and hurt the relationship. There is so much we could simply let slide off our backs. Keep the big picture in mind.
18. Know the love languages
Use the resource, The Five Love Languages, to understand each other more deeply. Quality time, physical touch, receiving gifts, words of affirmation or acts of service - you both have one of these as a predominant way love is felt. Take the quiz here, if you’d like. Knowing yours — and discovering your partner’s (it may be surprising!) — helps you know how to best make each other feel good.
19. Do new things together
There’s something particularly bonding to learn together. Even if it’s something small, like trying a new restaurant or creating a playlist for each other’s commute, it’s so nice to shake things up.
20. Create small rituals
Small gestures of gratitude or pockets of chatting shared throughout the day go a long way. Find small ways to be intimate in everyday moments like a morning goodbye kiss, holding hands when sitting next to one another, or rubbing one another’s back. Develop a habit of regularly expressing gratitude for all your spouse does. Do small things for each other-they add up and act as a buffer when things get tough.
21. Remember little things
Little things are really big! Do you recall your partner offhandedly mentioning their liking for something? Maybe it was a particular candy or a snack. When you have an opportunity to give it to your partner, you’ll show that you were listening and you care.
22. Show interest
Showing interest and trying to enter into one another's orbit, communicates 'I love you enough to value what you value.’
23. Increase appreciation
Let’s be honest. Sometimes in marriage “familiarity breeds contempt.” When you’ve been with someone a while it’s easy to focus on the things that bother you. But harboring feelings of resentment or animosity only sabotages your relationship. Make a conscious decision to notice all the things you love about your spouse instead of honing in on what frustrates you. Increase appreciation. Lower expectations.
24. Reconnect and talk
Reconnect and talk. This is the best overall piece of marriage advice. Rinse and repeat. And keep going and growing.
25. Keep giving love nudges
Here's a super helpful resource for connecting with your spouse. This is a relationship-building app that's made especially for married couples. And it's FREE!
Here's even more great marriage tips!
45 Longtime Couples Share the Marriage Tip That's Kept Them Together
There are good reasons these couples have made it so long together! And speaking personally, I can attest to the power of these principles. Know that your union can grow, thrive and enrich over time as well.
I share art and life-lessons inspired by my own path towards emotional wellness,