After a couple has been married for a while, there are challenges that arise. Lots of them. Issues with kids, finances, sex, household duties, in-laws, and general stress and exhaustion are common occurrences and can really wear on a marriage. Some get bored of the same ol’ mundane things and become stressed, unhappy, and even look elsewhere for that excitement.
Instead of ruining the relationship you have built together, look to your spouse to fulfill that need for you. I am speaking from 13 year of experience here, and have gone through the many things that we should or should not be doing. Read on to see how you might be able to strengthen your marriage and keep it alive…
10 Ways To Keep Your Long-Term Marriage Strong and Alive
1. ALWAYS put your spouse first – Over everything. Work, friends, kids, bills, extended family, and sleep – it will all be there. Make it a point to carve a little time between all of these tasks for your spouse. Love to try new restaurants? Hang out with friends? Engage in hobbies, such as playing games, sports, baking, working out, or dancing? Keep a balance, and include your spouse when you can. You’ve got to make yourself available.
2. Go out of your way for each other – A simple touch, caress, and compliment goes a long way. So even though your tired from the long work day, or you have 1,000 other things that must be done, just make sure that there’s some kind of contact with your spouse. Grab that bag of gummy bears you saw at the store that you know your spouse loves, or have an almost meaningless (to your relationship) discussion about a current event. It’s minor, but it makes a big impression.
3. Communicate about everything, honesty is key – Stop for a second and understand that your spouse is just as stressed as you are. Down playing, hiding, and pushing things by the wayside is only going to prolong your marital issues and make everything worse. Don’t pretend, don’t sugar coat it. Whatever it is, whatever problem you are experiencing, your spouse has the right to know. How else would you even begin to address it? I know that you probably want to do your best to please your spouse, but sometimes you have to stand your ground and tell em’ how you feel.
4. Choose your battles wisely – You don’t have to make a big deal out of everything. There will always be things that irritate you about your spouse, and vice versa. But there are things that are affecting for relationship that you have to speak up about. If your spouse is messy, a nit picker, hasn’t given much attention, or not as frugal as you, let some of it go. Our brains are wired differently. If your spouse is dishonest, cheating, disrespectful, abusive, or consistently not meeting your needs, you’d better speak up.
5. Travel and explore together – There are so many things to see and do in this world, so why not explore them together? Think about it… Childless time together, hotel room all to yourselves, experience new things, new places, see why you’ve got it good, and have plenty to talk about. You’ll have to learn to work together, to make sure you catch your flight, navigate a map, or rowing on a kayak excursion together. You might find something new that your spouse enjoys doing, or hates, that you never knew, and you could also possibly find something you both love that brings you closer together.
6. Keep outsiders, OUTSIDE – There’s noting worse than involving family and friends in your personal drama. Everyone imposes their opinion on you, then you look to these outsiders for support instead of your spouse, further dividing the rift between the two of you. Love needs it’s space. People end up taking sides, giving you advice as to what you should or should not do, and pretty soon, there’s this divide between everyone. YOUR MARITAL PROBLEMS ARE NOT EVERYONE’S BUSINESS. Friends and family can be great to vent to at times, but when it comes to privacy and compromise, you’ve got to hash out real problems with your spouse. (Did y’all read #3?)
7. Constantly compromise – If you haven’t already figured this out, marriage is the union of two people, with two different upbringings and two different outlooks on life. There are bound to be disagreements, so compromise is a absolute must. You cannot always get what you want, when you want it. Sometimes you have to suck it up. The more you realize that and become ok with it, the easier this whole marriage thing will be. This is one of the 5 c’s to follow when making a marriage last.
8. Rekindle common interests – What attracted you to each other when you first met? What was it that you used to do together that has fallen by the wayside? Think about what it was, and make it what it IS.
9. Consider each other with every action and choice – It is a huge deal to include the thought of your spouse and family in the decisions you make. Your decisions about employment, finances, partying with friends, involvement with children, social life, alcohol/drug use, other risky behavior and habits, etc will all affect your immediate family in some way. It’s your job to make sure that it is positive, your bad and improper choices could trickle down to your family and household.
10. Understand, forgive, and move forward – Everybody makes mistakes, big and small. If they are small things, talk openly about them and what you expect. If they are apologetic and remorseful, try forgiving. If it is something big, look deep within yourself and see if it is something you can get past. Take the steps above, determine if you can handle it, and DO IT.
Unfortunately, I had to learn some of these things the hard way. Marriage is hard work, folks. You will not always agree with your spouse, you will not always be happy about the situation. You WILL NOT always be on the same page. The key is to recognize this, and compromise. Know what your partner wants, needs, and expects. Your spouse should do the same for you in return. The motto I try to live by: ALWAYS put your immediate family first.
How do you keep your long-term marriage strong and alive?