Virtually everyone gets married with the expectation of living happily together for the rest of their lives, but for far too many couples that dream comes to a premature end somewhere down the line. But there are a number of concrete steps you can take to help ensure that your marriage is a happy one, and that it lasts for a long, long time. Here are just a few of them:
1 – Spend time together. They say “absence makes the heart grow fonder”, but unfortunately that old saying isn’t all that accurate. Sure, being apart for short lengths of time leaves one pining for his/her mate, but when it happens too often and for too long at a time that pining tends to make way for finding ways to replace that missing companionship. That’s why long-haul truck drivers have such an astoundingly high divorce rate.
2 – Find activities that you both enjoy, and do them often. Make time to spend together every single day, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Shared activities lead to stronger bonds.
3 – Give each other little gifts on occasion for no reason at all. Valentine’s Day only rolls around once a year, but there’s no reason why you can’t celebrate it a lot more often than that! And the gifts don’t have to be expensive either. Share a romantic card, a night out at the movies, a home-cooked candlelit dinner, a relaxing massage after a hard day’s work, etc.
4 – Don’t go to bed angry. Talk out your problems and try to understand your mate’s position and feelings about the topic at hand. Compromise whenever possible, each giving in just a little bit in order to reach a loving consensus.
5 – Don’t entertain thoughts of infidelity even for a moment. It just isn’t worth it. Enough said.
6 – Forgive and forget, and offer a sincere apology of your own when one is warranted.
7 – Don’t bring up the past. We all make mistakes and some of them can be quite large. But if you agree to accept your mate’s apology (and if you value your marriage you should if it’s sincere), then let the incident become a thing of the past, never to be spoken of again by either of you.
8 – Make time for one another every single day. You’re probably saying “Hey, we already covered that in #1!” Well, you’re right, but this one is so important that it bears repeating – and doing religiously!
Summary: It takes work to make a happy, fulfilling and long-lasting marriage, but believe me when I tell you it’s well worth the effort. You’ll thank me when you celebrate your golden wedding anniversary!
About the author: Harriet Adams is a marriage counselor with almost 22 years in private practice. She resides in the Golden State with her husband of 26 years.