It can be easy to have a fun and romantic courtship period, but you may worry that your marriage won’t last once the initial spark has died down. However, if you want to live a happy married life, then you have to work on keeping the romance alive and on continuing to grow—both with your partner and as an individual. Though it’s not always easy, you can make your marriage thrive if you and your partner are willing to put in the effort.
1. Respect your spouse.
If you want to have a healthy marriage, then you have to make your spouse feel like your equal and take their feelings into account whenever you’re making a decision or just going about your day. If you treat your spouse like their opinions don’t really matter or like you always have the final say, then you’re bound to have an imbalance in your marriage. Make sure that you give your spouse’s views the same seriousness that you give your own and that you take the time to listen to your spouse and make them feel like you care.
- Work to be kind, loving, and understanding to your spouse. If you’re having a bad day and snap out a comment or response, make sure you apologize; give your spouse the basic respect they deserves instead of thinking you can do whatever you want because you’re married.
- You should also respect your spouse’s privacy. Don’t go snooping through their phone, letters, email account, bank statements etc if you expect them to feel respected.
2. Work to keep your relationship in the present.
If you care about your spouse and want to have a healthy and productive relationship, then you should avoid getting hung up on past mistakes you both made or keep reminding your spouse of their failures; instead, work on reinforcing positive behavior, enjoying your present time together, and thinking of all you have to look forward to. If you really care about your spouse, then you will be considerate of their feelings and won’t bring up the past just to get a reaction.
- Though it’s not always easy to let go of the past, you shouldn’t bring it up out of spite. Remember that your spouse is a living, breathing person too and that you shouldn’t bring up the past just to hurt them.
3. Give priority to your spouse.
Though you don’t need to make your life revolve completely around your spouse, you have to remember that when you and your spouse decided to get married, you wanted to be a priority in each other’s lives. You should make sure to honor that decision and to make all of your big decisions with your spouse in mind, making sure that you try to do what’s best for you as well as for the person you are married to.
- If your family or friends aren’t getting along with your spouse, don't take sides against your spouse, even if you think that your spouse is being unreasonable ; make sure you’re considerate of your spouse’s feelings and that you give all the love and support they deserve.
4. Don’t break marital confidences or use them as a weapon during an argument.
If your partner trusted you with something very private and important, then you shouldn’t undermine that trust by reporting it to someone else just because you didn’t really think about it. If it was something painful and personal, then don’t use it as ammunition during an argument, or your partner will be betrayed. Be considerate of the fact that your partner trusted you with important information and make sure to honor that trust.
- You should be the person your spouse trusts more than anyone in the world. Don’t do anything to jeopardize that trust. If you do make a mistake, make sure to apologize for it.
5. Don’t forget to say "I love you".
Don’t ever think that you don’t have to say “I love you” because your partner should already know how you feel. Make an effort to tell your partner how much you love him or her at least once or twice a day and make sure you slow down, look your partner in the eyes, and say it like you really mean it. Don’t just say “Love ya!” as you leave the house or say “love you” in a text message—take the time to let your partner know how much they really means to you, in person.
- Making this small effort to say these three sacred words can make a big difference in your relationship.
- Don’t just say these words because you want something or because you’re making up after a fight; say them just because you truly feel them. That’s when it means the most.
6. Make time for each other.
As your relationship progresses, you will find that there will be more and more obligations that will keep you from having time alone. However, you should make sure to get that time alone every week, even if you have to sacrifice some time with friends or family to make it happen. Remember that hanging out at your friend’s birthday party or at a barbecue at your parents’ house isn’t the same as just spending time alone together.
- If you feel like your schedules have been insanely busy and you haven’t had time alone together, then you should try to steal even a few minutes of your spouse’s time, whether you go for a quick walk together during a family outing or spend some time alone at a party.
- As for your dates, make sure you plan those well ahead of schedule, so you and your spouse know to keep your schedules clear for those dates.
7. Don't forget to do the little things that make each of you smile and feel loved.
Whether it’s giving your partner a kiss on the hand, doing chores for when they are having a busy week, or leaving a sweet note on the mirror before you leave for work, you should never stop doing the little things, no matter how tired you are or how comfortable you feel in the relationship. You should never get lazy when it comes to your marriage and make sure to always make your partner feel special and loved.
- If you’ve been too busy to do some of the usual things you do for your partner, try to make up for it when you have a bit more time. Let your partner know that you’re aware that you haven’t been as attentive as usual and that you want to make up for it.
8. Help your spouse out when it's needed.
If your spouse has had a busy week, then you should be understanding of that and spend more time cooking or doing work around the house. When you’re having a hectic time, they should do the same for you. Though you should find a balance of work that makes sense for both of you, if you care for your spouse, you should make an extra effort when they really need you most.
- Your spouse may even deny that they needs extra help, but if you can see that they are stressed out and overwhelmed, make the effort to cook, take care of the dog, or run some basic errands that week.
9. Keep the romance alive.
If you want your marriage to last, then you have to keep making an effort to be romantic. While things will change after you’ve been with your spouse for a long time or when you have children together, you should still make an effort to make each other feel special, to have date nights, and to keep courting each other long after you’ve said your vows. This can help keep your marriage feeling exciting, sexy, and fun. Here are some things you can do:
- Make sure to keep up with your date nights. Whether you have a date night every week or every other week, keep your dates with your spouse and make sure you don’t do the same old thing every time.
- Find time for romance even when you’re at home. Whether you’re watching a romantic comedy or making dinner together with candles lit everywhere, it’s important to keep things feeling exciting even when you’re just at home from time to time.
- Try writing each other really meaningful cards each year on your anniversary. Take the time to really write down all of the reasons why you love your spouse.
- It can be romantic simply to keep your relationship feeling fresh and spontaneous. Going away on a last-minute weekend trip, signing up for a dance class on a whim, or opening that nice bottle of fancy wine you’ve been saving forever without planning for it can make your relationship feel very romantic and exciting.
10. Maintain realistic expectations.
If you want to live a happy married life, then you have to understand that not every day will be a walk in the park. This doesn’t mean that you should expect marriage to be drab, dark, and disappointing, but it does mean that you should be prepared for the fact that there will be some struggles, some days of unhappiness, and some days when you just can’t even be in the same room as your spouse. It’s perfectly normal not to get along 100% of the time, and what’s most important is that you both know that and are willing to put in the work.
- If you expect your marriage to be perfectly blissful every day, then you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.
- Remember that your spouse has flaws, just like you do. If you expect perfection, then you’ll only get sad or bitter. If your spouse has flaws you’d like them to work on, such as always being late, then have an honest, open conversation about it, and be willing to change the bad habits you can change, too.