It can’t hurt to post some suggestions for making the most of your marriage—whether it’s been a short one or a long one, whether you’re young or old. Research is showing that one in four people getting divorced in the U.S. are over 50; and of those, over half have been married 20 years or more. Yet, the average age for couples going through their first divorce is about 30 years of age after an average of eight years of marriage. It appears that everyone can use some tips to hold their marriage together.
#1. Keep physical closeness in your marriage. Of course, this includes making love, but it is also important to hold hands, embrace, cuddle, give goodbye kisses, and even throw some loving glances to each other. It’s hard to stay angry or not feel wanted when your partner holds you and runs their fingers through your hair after a long day of work. Or even if they just gently put their hand on your shoulder when passing you in the kitchen.
#2. Verbalize appreciation for the other. Physical closeness means so much more when there are words often said that express sincere love and appreciation for the other. Not only the frequent “I love you,” but things like “thank you for always having my back,” “I love how you think of me so much,” or “there isn’t anyone’s company I enjoy more than yours.”
#3. Don’t keep secrets from one another. Keep your marriage bed sacred. You might think the two don’t have that much to do with each other. But keeping secrets, even if you’re not having an affair, do affect the relationship in bed. You took the time to enter into a commitment, promised to always be committed and that means that whatever you do when your spouse is not around concerns him/her. Things like other relationships, what occurs at your job, how you have spent money, what you do with your extra time—all of these should be transparently communicated with your spouse.
#4. Spend time together. You are probably together because you initially loved spending time together. That desire should only deepen. Spend time doing recreational activities outside the home but also within the home—always create at least an hour daily to enjoy one another’s company. Laugh together. Have regular date nights. Get away together for a weekend occasionally. Whatever time you make for yourselves—treasure those moments. Never take them for granted.
#5. Have common spiritual views. Studies have shown that couples who share the same religious and spiritual beliefs are more satisfied in their marriages. This is particularly important where children are involved. Disagreements over this issue can cause contention while loving partners who share the same faith will most often pass on their beliefs to their children.
#6. Have the same goals. As with spiritual beliefs, spouses should have the same goals as to where their futures are going. Working together to build a future is what spending lifetimes together is all about. Ideally, these goals should have been discussed before marriage. But it’s never too late. You can always establish new life goals that both of you can work towards.
#7. Be best friends. Best friends are created by practicing all the ways listed here within a relationship. Nevertheless, keep this thought up front in your mind, “my spouse is my best friend.” Have that respect for one another and always treat each other accordingly.
#8. Set boundaries with friends. Protect your marriage from overly-intrusive relationships with friends. Of course, you’ll each have your own friendships and you’ll have friendships together, but time and communication with these friends should never be prioritized above your marriage relationship. Letting this happen can lead to a slippery slope that undermines your marriage, so work together to protect your marriage. Transparency, vulnerability, kindness, and good communications skills are all tools you can use regarding outside relationships.
#9. Respect your partner’s family. While you expect your spouse to honor and appreciate your family, the same rule goes for you. This doesn’t mean you have to “like” them or even approve of how they conduct themselves. Like relationships with friends, sometimes boundaries may be needed. Nevertheless, being respectful is essential.
#10. Support each other’s personal time. Everyone needs privacy and alone time. These times are not spent doing errands, but times spent processing one’s own thoughts and life during a walk or drive alone. Or it could be a quiet time of reading and meditation. These habits are what keep us personally motivated and they will ultimately bring strength to a marriage.
Successful marriages don’t come easy. Hard work from both partners is always involved. Yet, remembering to selflessly love the other while working hard, will build up your relationship, keeping it healthy and happy.