After the honeymoon wears off, how do you keep your marriage alive?
I listened intently to a long-married couple last night as they passed along wisdom about staying married (hopefully happily) for 30 years or more.
It was noteworthy advice that I took home with me and added to the arsenal of other smart tips I've learned over the years about successful marriages. I hope and pray that mine will continue to prosper as well.
Other tips I remember come from conference leader Joyce Meyer, who advised her listeners (wives, especially) to magnify the good in their mates. Of course, this sage wisdom works well for men, too.
1. Focus on the good, not the bad.
For example, instead of focusing on the fact that a husband might want to relax with a cigar and chat with you over a glass of wine after dinner rather than take a midnight stroll, be happy that he wants to talk to you.
Shift your focus from a pair of dirty socks that are left on the floor to the fact that he holds down a great 9-to-5 job and pays the mortgage each month. You get the picture.
2. Don't focus on your partner's weaknesses.
As long as there are no wildly disrespectful happenings in the marriage — physical and emotional abuse, long-term cheating without repentance, or other factors that can be deal-breakers — it doesn't help to hone in on a person's supposed weak points.
As opposed to a man bemoaning his wife's weight gain or lack of interest in sex, he can think of the children she carried and look for positive ways to inspire her to workout and eat right, like making it a joint venture.
Instead of comparing her to the latest porn star, he could think of ways to make their love life the kind of sexual adventure he desires by getting to the heart of her emotions, and uncovering any reasons why she's holding back.
3. Pursue other hobbies and interests together.
All in all, having interests outside of the marriage — healthy ones, like photography hobbies or innocuous stuff — can be a blessing, because when you come back together you have something else to talk about.
But all your pursuits shouldn't be independent of one another, nor should you only have a child-centered, kid-focused marriage.
Discover more things that you like to do together, such as going to the movies, driving around and discovering new houses, or traveling to new cities to visit wineries or other adventurous pursuits.
Marriage doesn't have to be boring, and a husband or wife shouldn't fall into the temptation of adultery by believing the lie that the grass is greener in someone else's bed.
Remember the things that made you first fall in love, reprise those activities, and introduce new ones.