7. From my grandfather: Compromise with your partner.
During his toast on our wedding day my grandfather trotted out the old joke, "Chris, you always knew you were marrying Miss Right; you just didn’t realize that her middle name is Always." Even though it was said in jest, I took his message to heart, and I vowed to work hard at compromising. We've compromised a lot over the years, most recently about a ceiling fan (It's embarrassing to admit, but, yes, we battled it out over the ugly ceiling fan in our new apartment.) I wanted to rip it out and replace it with a chandelier. Chris wanted to keep a fan there, since we only have window units; it would get hot in the summer, he explained, and we'd be happy to have it. In the end, I agreed to keep a ceiling fan in the living room, just not the one that was there. We went with an ultra-modern number that he loves...and that I can live with. The chandelier will go in the bedroom.
8. From my friend Kerry: Plan date nights together.
"A night out alone makes us feel totally refreshed as a couple," my friend Kerry recently confided, after she and her husband had a lunch date one afternoon. I was immediately jealous: When was the last time Chris and I went out alone? We had dropped the ball, but back in the beginning of our relationship, we were religious about date night. It was the only way we got to see each other, since Chris covered nightlife as a newspaper reporter. Wednesday became our official night to be together, and we both committed to keeping that date no matter what (our friends made fun of us for it). Time to get those date nights back on track!
9. From my cousins: Have fun together.
Chris' second cousins Heidi and Scott are great at this. I met them for the first time after we had moved to New York City, and they took us to a Brazilian restaurant near Times Square. I had never been to a Brazilian restaurant, and I loved that these two (who live in Maine) were showing me something new about the city. The night was so much fun, not just because Scott and Heidi were a blast to be around but because they clearly had a ton of fun together. They filled the evening with stories about their ski trips together, as well as an upcoming vacation they were planning on taking. They taught us the importance of enjoying each other’s company, even after being married for years and having kids, simply by being themselves.
10. From my friend Diane: Recognize your partner's greatness.
"You’re really lucky to have Chris," my friend Diane told me during a recent playdate. We were gossiping about all the crappy dads we know, and Diane was pointing out that Chris is amazing with our three-year-old son Mason. And she was right: He's a hands-on kind of dad that gets dirty with Mason at the playground, lets him blow bubbles during bath time, colors with him, and kicks the soccer ball around. It's fair to say that I love Chris more because he's such a great dad, but Diane's comment made me realize that I probably hadn't ever told Chris that. "Do something nice for him," she urged. So I texted the babysitter and planned a night out. Having a friend point out one of the reasons I'm so fortunate to have Chris in my life was a good reminder to show him my gratitude more often.