9 Tiny-But-Crucial Lessons That Have Kept My Marriage Strong For 10 Years

Easily adopted daily habits for healthy marriages.

Couple hugging on bridge Kelly Sikkema | Unsplash

As much as we all want to believe that once we find our true love, we'll live out our lives in blissful happiness, reveling in that loving feeling forever, reality is not quite like that. We tend to think love happens to us instead of something that comes from us. Yet, successful relationships take energy, effort, and attention from both partners.

Here are a few things I've learned after ten years of marriage that keep a relationship healthy, or at least from falling apart at the seams.


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Here are 9 tiny-but-crucial lessons that have kept my marriage strong for 10 years:

1. Touch them.

As human beings, we crave being touched. It gives us a sense of connection to others, that sense of bonding. Things like touching their forearm when you talk to them, running your fingers gently through their hair, or rubbing their ears lightly when you kiss them goodbye. A little bit of touch goes a long way, and in these hurried modern times, we can all use more than we're getting.

couple hugging


Photo: NDAB Creativity via Shutterstock

2. Compliment them.

We're all naturally quick to point out our partner's flaws or things they did wrong or could do better, but why is it so hard to comment on what's great about them? Once we get used to each other, great things become expected and taken for granted. Pick three things they do well, and the next time you see them doing one of them, give them a nice little compliment like, "You're so good at that. Thank you for taking care of that for us."

If you aim to give them one compliment every day, it will begin to become natural, and soon, you do it even more often. And you'll find their annoying habits won't seem so bad. 

3. Keep your dirty laundry in your house.

When they've bothered you, and you want to complain to your friends, co-workers, or your mom, stop. Hold your tongue.


Words spoken in one ear tend to make it to other ears very quickly, and these people will think less of your partner long after you've gotten over it. Mom and Dad are particularly good at holding grudges against a person who was never really good enough for their child.

If you need to complain, write it down in a journal instead of voicing it, or if you have to say it to someone, tell it to your therapist or a relationship coach. 

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4. Be a winning team.

Look at life's ups and downs as something you are both in together. If you work together as a team, always looking out for the other, you can handle whatever comes at you. Just as the members of a team have different talents, you and your partner have unique talents. So, put them to work together to create greatness.




5. Take them at face value.

Know they are what they are and know they are not going to change. Then, love them for what they are. Instead of looking at their bad habits as annoying, look at them as quirky traits that make your partner such a lovable person.

Write down three things you love about them on an index card, and keep the card in your pocket at all times. Any time they annoy you, pull out the card and read each to yourself; you won't be able to stay mad. (If you can't come up with three things you love about them, dump them and move on. I mean, seriously.)

6. Be compassionate.

When they are grouchy or snappy — especially when it's directed at you — instead of getting defensive, feeling hurt, and pouting, snapping back, or blaming, try to understand why they might be upset and where they are coming from.


They are stressed about something, so find out what it is. Then let them know you understand, and remind them you're a team (see number 4) and you are here to help. The great thing is they will soon be doing the same for you. 

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7. Let go of having to be right.

When arguing, always be open to what your partner is saying and focus on listening and understanding their point of view before talking. Even if after listening and understanding, you still absolutely believe you're right, instead of arguing about it to the bitter end, practice looking at it as if they have a different opinion than you do (note: don't say those words, it'll just make things worse. Simply think them and move on.) 

8. Do one special thing for your partner every day.

Try something they would love you to do for them and something unexpected (if you usually do the laundry, that doesn't count.)


Why one thing every day? Because this will get you thinking about your partner selflessly. It will change the way you view them, make you feel more loving toward them, make them adore you, and you'll be happier.

When you think of things to do for them, remember that people feel loved when you do something for them ... particularly something that helps them out and lightens their load. 

9. Chill out.

There will be a time when you're just absolutely ready to blow your top (or have already.) Instead of making things worse by screaming that they are acting just like their parents, stop before the words come out, open the door, and go outside for a walk. Cool off, and don't talk until you can do it calmly.


Forget the old maxim, "Don't go to bed angry". Sometimes, sleep makes things better. You can patch things up over coffee.

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Jane Garapick is a dating and relationship coach, author, and founder of Getting to True Love. She inspires, supports, and empowers women on their journey to find true love.