8 Things You Can Do Now That Help Make Sure You'll Grow Old Together

Photo: weheartit
growing old together

When you got married, you probably thought about what it'd be like growing old together. What is your dream for the future of your relationship?

Perhaps you plan to ride off into the sunset together. Or maybe you envision an active life sharing new adventures, traveling together some, but largely just the two of you enjoying your time together.

Sometimes your dreams and expectations about the future are pretty well-defined. But for many, you aren't fully aware of what you had expected the future to be like, until you experience unhappiness and disappointment when it doesn't live up to your dreams.

At that point, you realize life did not turn out the way you hoped it would.

In most relationships, you signed on at the beginning with the expectation you two would always be together. There are often thoughts of growing old together and always being close, loving and romantic and taking care of each other to the end.

But to pull that off and achieve your happy ending takes effort throughout the lifetime of your marriage.

RELATED: 8 Easy Ways To Make Your Marriage Even Better Than It Is Right Now

Here are 8 things you should be doing together now to build for a happy future together:

1. Do the things that keep you close as a couple.

The process of life itself can quickly begin to fill your time and draw you apart as a couple. Job responsibilities, career growth, having and raising children, children's activities as they grow and develop, volunteer activities... all of these things take time. Often the early stages of a relationship are not as packed with life, and you put a premium on being together. As life begins to happen there is less time to be together.

If the activities of life have pulled you somewhat apart, sit down and talk about how to come back together. Think back to the time when you did feel closer and were more active together. What needs to change now in order to bring some of that back into your relationship?

Make this a priority and get to it now — before you forget or no longer have the time. If you put it off, another year may pass before you get back to it.

2. Be intentional about scheduling (and protecting) your time together.

In order to stay close as a couple, be intentional about spending time together. If you do not plan ahead and set the time aside, it is likely that something else will take priority.

Be intentional about spending time together. Be intentional about setting the time aside. Be regular in doing it and establish a pattern that does not fall off of your radar.

But simply scheduling time together is not enough. You must also protect the time you set aside and place a high priority on it. This will help to keep you close now and build a foundation for closeness, communication and togetherness for your future.

3. Be proactive in taking care of your health.

Your bodies decline over time. You lose muscle mass, it becomes easier to gain weight and, without proper attention, muscles and joints deteriorate.

This process can often be slowed down and delayed if there is intentional, proactive and frequent physical activity designed to keep your body in shape. As your body changes, it can have an impact on how your spouse views you (even if you believe it should not), and it can interfere with your activity level together, as well as your sex life.

Some things can't be avoided as you age. However, with the proper care and feeding of your bodies, it is possible to slow down the direct negative impact of aging in many cases. A simple Google search will produce many methods, dietary plans and exercises that will help — though none of that is helpful without regular attention to it throughout your lifetime.

Work together on it as a couple and provide the encouragement your partner needs to stick with it. Start it now, and it will pay off in the future in many ways.

4. Be financially responsible.

Do everything you need to do now, in order to be financially secure in the years to come. Most couples we have encountered have each approached family finances with different philosophies. One may be a saver and the other a spender. Sometimes there is no coherent plan to cover current financial needs and budget for the future.

RELATED: How Men In Truly Great Relationships Make Sure Their Partners Feel Heard

If you need help coming together with a way of handling your family finances, consider attending a class, such as Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. This program does a great job helping couples unite in a workable financial plan that fits for them.

5. Protect your relationship from an affair.

Stay close with each other throughout your marriage. Do your best to take care of the legitimate needs of your partner, whatever they may be.

We have worked with way too many couples that have had to deal with an affair in their marriage. Most are able to recover, but the recovery can be excruciating at times. Some things may never be the same after an affair.

So do your best to affair-proof your relationship by staying close. Build a system of communicating your needs in a way your partner hears and understands clearly how to take care of you.

6. Read a good marriage book every year.

Many good books about marriage are produced each year. There are some great marriage books such as The Five Love Languages, His Needs, Her Needs, Love & Respect, as well as, many others that are classics and have been in print for years.

Find one book on marriage each year and develop a plan for reading it. You might take a chapter each week and discuss what you saw that applies to the two of you briefly during your weekly date night. Or you could read a few pages together at night, and talk about it.

Develop some form of a plan that will get you through the book and allow for discussion, as necessary. This is an investment in your marriage and will help to protect it.

7. Attend a marriage seminar once every three years.

Keep your eyes and ears open for seminars you could attend. Occasionally, you will hear about one on the radio. A church in your area may host one or have information about a seminar held at a larger hotel venue.

Keep this idea on your radar, and if necessary, do an online search to find one near you. Even if your marriage is working well, there will be thoughts and ideas presented in a good marriage seminar that will breathe new life into your marriage. That's why attending one together is worthwhile as an investment in protecting and strengthening your marriage.

8. Conduct an "annual review" of your marriage.

We started a practice early in our marriage of spending an hour or so around our anniversary each year discussing our marriage. We had a time management calendar system that had a "Life Goal Planner" page that we still use. We would take 15-30 minutes individually to go through the worksheet, and then met together to discuss it and agree on decisions for our future.

The sheet has the following sections;

  • Career achievements and satisfaction
  • Wealth and material possessions
  • Close personal relationships
  • Public and professional achievements
  • Self-development
  • Mental and spiritual growth

There is space under each section to set up to 4-5 goals, set a target deadline for each, and define how each goal will be measured.

We continue to set goals for the future based on this annual review and evaluation. We both even made a couple of mid-life career changes based on our yearly goal-setting sessions. We teamed up, backed each other up while getting advanced degrees and licensing for the next stage of our lives.

This strategy kept us close. It made it possible for us to work together as a true team on targets for individual and team growth, which helped both of us feel completely supported during major life transitions.

While our children were in the house, we also added added another section to the review and talked about the needs of each of them as they developed, as well.

Life presents many challenges, and we believe they are handled best with the close loving support of a life partner.

Life will often pull and tug at the bonds of the best of relationships. We just accepted that as the truth of life. Life is busy and the relationships that last and grow are the ones that are protected and nurtured.

RELATED: 7 Ways To Stop Being That Old, Boring Married Couple (And Have Fun Again

If you really want the close, deep relationship where you work together as a team, but have given up on achieving it, call Drs. David and Debbie McFadden. We have found that couples often yearn for and work at staying close, but over the years discover that too much distance exists between them. Before you give up holding on to hope that things will ever change, call us at 331-308-0113 for a free 15-20 minute phone/Skype consultation. Together, we will coach you through the process of rebuilding your relationship into one that will not only last, but will prosper in the long run.

YourTango may earn an affiliate commission if you buy something through links featured in this article.