1. Commitment. One couple I know made a vow to that they would NEVER say the D-word to one another. From day one, they pledged absolute commitment to each other and to their marriage. My husband and I have been married for 36 years. We have experienced the highs and lows of marriage, but when push comes to shove, we both know we want to be in it together for the long haul. I met him when we were in the seventh grade. We married when we were 20. As we aged and circumstances changed, there were times over the years, I admit, each of us was ready to head in separate directions. But we always came back to our original vows to love and to cherish 'til death do us part. He and I share the same memories, the same moments that make our relationship so unique. We also want our kids and grandkids to have parents/grandparents that have kept the family intact. Bridges said in a past interview that "one of the things about staying married is just not getting a divorce." It's so true.
2. Romance. While the embers of romantic love may lose their sizzle, there are ways to strike up the heat. Couples have to take time out for themselves: away from their jobs, away from their kids, away from any distractions. If you cannot afford to take a weekend vacation at a bed and breakfast, at least go to a romantic movie. Romance isn't just wining and dining. Hold hands while going on a walk in the neighborhood, grab each other for a hug at unexpected moments. And just be considerate of one another. Saying please and thank you is not old-fashioned, nor are they words just for other people. Show appreciation for the little things. When my husband cleans the kitchen for me, brings home dinner, or throws in a load of laundry, he shows me we are a team—we are in it together. Those behaviors, silly as it sounds, cause me to just love him all the more. 4 Reasons Why There's No Romance in Your Relationship
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3. Communication. When our twins hit elementary age, my husband and I started to take evening walks after dinner. That was our time to focus on one another, hear about each other's day, and enjoy some exercise together. Even in the wintertime, we would put on ski pants and boots, and trek through inches of snow. Years later, I knew this ritual made an impact on my daughter when she related it to a married friend. Her friend admired our practice and planned to do the same with her husband. One thing my husband and I learned during those evening walks was about the art of listening. We had to overcome the urge to offer advice when all one of us needed to do was vent. Streep once said that in her marriage, "listening is everything… it's where you learn everything."
Dave Carder, an author and speaker who specializes in affair recovery and prevention, posts tips for couples on his website. One of his communication tips is regular sit-down, face-to-face conversations with your spouse. He tells couples to sit knee to knee and ask a question that each should answer. He posts questions like, "What were Sunday mornings like for your Family of Origin?" and "What were the best and/or worst decisions you've made in your lifetime?" He recommends this be a 20-minute period. The purpose is to get to know your spouse in a more intimate manner. So pull two chairs together, set a timer, look each other in the eyes, and talk! 3 Common Communication Mistakes and How to Fix Them
4. Recognize and respect differences. My husband likes adventure and enjoys social time. I like quiet evenings watching old movies and sitting near the fire, or attending plays. We compromise and share each other’s interests, and we also give each other space to do the things we enjoy. When I go snowmobiling in blizzard conditions with him (that’s a whole story in itself), and he goes to see a college production of Hamlet with me… Well, that's true love.
5. Get counseling. If your marriage has hit rough waters and you feel it sinking, counseling can be the lifeboat that brings it back safely to shore. Every marriage has its ups and downs. Marriage can be like riding the waves in a small boat in a storm. As the boat gets tossed to and fro, you feel certain you're going under and there is no hope. Don't wait until the last minute to radio for help. A reputable marriage counselor can objectively listen to your complaints and concerns, and then steer you both in the right direction.
My husband I went through counseling early in our marriage, and we both believe that counseling saved our marriage, or at least helped to make it what it is today. We were basically a couple of kids when we got married, and we didn't know how to maneuver through the rough waters. The principles we learned during those counseling sessions have guided us through several storms over the years, and we have always been able to keep our heads above the rushing waters. When a couple survives the roughest of storms, it gives them the confidence to keep going. But is it a good idea to wait until the storm is actually brewing? No. Of course not! Before the dark clouds roll in, attend a marriage seminar or go on a couple's retreat. Be proactive, not reactive, when it comes to bettering your marriage. 3 Tips To Prepare For Couples Counseling
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My husband and I have surrounded ourselves with friends over the years that have protected their marriages. They have determined and chosen not to be in the fifty-percent divorce category. And sometimes that is all it comes down to: choice.