Most people believe that only those people who marry their soul mate have marriages that last. A myth is that long marriages are the result of two people falling deeply in love and never losing that feeling. Romance novels and romantic movies both show the same myth – that only those passionately in love have strong marriages. The truth is far different.
The best advice you will ever hear is that the best marriages are created when two people fall in love and then work hard to stay that way. Marriage is not easy and both spouses need to work to be happy and in love every day. You may not believe this, especially if you are new in the relationship and still see stars when you and your special someone kiss. This is an amazing feeling and one you never want to end.
In reality, the stars will fade if you depend on emotions to fuel the feelings. You need to make a conscious effort every day to let your spouse know how much you love and respect him/her. This can be really tough when life gets busy with jobs, children and a house to take care of, but if you don’t want to do all of this alone, you need to make your spouse your first priority.
This doesn’t mean that you have to forget everything else in your life. It means that you smile and say “good morning” every day – even when you are irritated that they didn’t rinse the toothpaste out of the sink. It means you kiss hello and goodbye – even after the trash didn’t get taken out. Making your spouse and your marriage your first priority does not take grand gestures every day. It takes lots of little gestures every day!
One of the biggest reasons people get divorced is that they feel they have no common life with their spouse anymore. Couples feel that they are no longer as important to their spouse and this leads to indifference of the other person’s feelings. Once this happens, it is easy to fight over small things in life or to ignore your spouse. This indifference can erode any remaining feelings between you and your spouse.
To prevent that indifference from creeping into your relationship, connect with your spouse each day. This could be as simple as touching each other as you walk by. Hold hands while you watch television and cuddle on the couch. Doing this every day turns it into a habit – a good one – and one that can bring you closer to your spouse than you ever dreamed.
Make sure that you and your spouse talk to each other every day. Life gets so busy with children and conflicting work schedules, so if you have to, make a date on your calendar every day. Set aside a few minutes every morning to connect over coffee or every night to talk about your day when you put the kids in bed. Make sure these talks are about you and your spouse, not about where the kids need to be the next day or what bills need paid. You need to share things about you to keep those loving feelings for your spouse.
Schedule a date night, if not every week, then every other week. These do not have to be dinners at fancy restaurants or even actually leaving the house. Put the children in bed, order a pizza and dance around the living room. Go outside and look at the stars as you talk about your dreams. Find a hobby you both enjoy and spend time together working on that hobby every week.
Surprise your spouse with a post-it note stuck to the bathroom mirror that simply says “I love you.” Bring home a flower or a favorite candy bar to let him/her know you were thinking about them during the day. All of these small gestures show your spouse how much you love and think about them every day. This keeps you both feeling loved and wanted in the marriage. When spouses feel love and respect, they are more willing to compromise on issues that come up and less apt to blow small problems out of proportion.
If you truly want to have one of the happily ever after marriages we all dream about, it takes work and patience as well as love and respect. You need to make an effort every day to let your spouse know how much you want him/her in your life. The little things you do really do add up to a happy life with your lover.
Sylvia Smith is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples in therapy. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is currently associated with Marriage.com, a reliable resource assisting millions of couples to resolve their marital issues. She holds a Master’s Degree in Arts (Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy).