Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That’s why it’s a comfort to go hand in hand. – Emily Kimbrough
People often ask my husband and I how we’ve managed to stay together over the years (38). They often ask us for “our secret.”
There is no secret.
For us, building a foundation based on friendship, mutual respect and the enjoyment of each other’s company has allowed good things to happen. Consistently expressing our love for one another through words and actions continues to strengthen our bond.
We know each other’s habits and hopes and likes and dislikes. We believe in each other and are positive and optimistic about our future together.
Don’t get me wrong our relationship isn’t perfect. There is no such thing. We continue to argue and get mad and frustrated with each other. We still struggle for control and want to be right. It’s normal. In spite of these things, we continuously come out on top because of our foundation and tools we put into practice.
You too, can rejuvenate your relationship by incorporating the following methods:
- Surprise each other. Secretly plan a weekend getaway, purchase concert tickets, flowers or favorite foods. Do the unexpected. It keeps things interesting.
- Go to bed together. The message you give each other is I want to be with you. I want to make love to you. Or I simply want to hold you while you fall asleep. Doing so creates a ritual for a life time. Avoid keeping electronics in your bedroom. It’s a distraction from intimacy.
- Establish common interests. It will strengthen your friendship. Create and enjoy good times. Value your weekends. Take cooking lessons or dance class together. Learn to garden, bike or walk together.
- Maintain boundaries. You need friends and interests of your own. Independence and individuality keeps life interesting. You can’t get all of your needs met by one person. Never.
- Compromise. This allows couples to be open minded, positive and calm when discussing each other’s opinions and desires. Practice compromising with small things such as restaurants, music and movies.
- Spend time in nature together. The beach, the woods, the ocean, or a favorite park are place you can go for relaxation and renewal. Nature rejuvenates and heals.
- Use your manners. Help her do dishes. Scoop out his ice cream. Treat each other like company. Make things special for each other. Ask your partner “Is there something I can do for you?” Say please, thank you and excuse me regularly.
- Eat together. Happy couples treat each other as if they are the most important person in the world. Be personally interested in one another’s day. Sit together at least 20 minutes at dinner time. Don’t bring your phone to the dinner table.
- Speak up. Don’t expect your partner to know what’s going on inside your head. Learn to raise an issue in a clear and calm manner. Watch your intention and tone. Express your needs.
- Respect each other. Be kind and honor each other. Genuinely praise each other once a day for one week. Repeat this until it becomes a lifelong habit. Never belittle each other. It’s painful and causes resentment.
- Touch. Greet each other with a hug and kiss first thing in the morning and at the end of the working day. Cuddle, play, hold hands, give massages, hugs, and a pat on the back or a touch on an arm.
- Communicate and respect each other’s sexual likes and dislikes.
- Tolerate each other’s annoying habits. A poor attitude is believing, “If only my partner were slimmer, richer or funnier we wouldn’t have problems.”
- Apologize. Our ego wants us to believe if we apologize we lose and the other person wins. Take the higher road. An apology means, I’m human, I made a mistake. State how you will change your behavior the next time.
- Avoid debt. Money is the number one reason for divorce. Create and agree on a budget together. Be honest. Don’t hide purchases from each other. Spending more than you make will keep you arguing, stressed and distant from each other.
- Remind yourself why you fell in love. Focus on the good in each other. Take your own personal inventory.
- Get counseling. Most couples seek counseling when their relationship is beyond repair. Don’t wait until negativity and damage is out of control.
- Forgive daily, let past mistakes go. Refuse to discuss old resolved issues. Bringing up past errors will eventually ruin the relationship. Drop the story about the past.
- Pay attention to each other. Spending too much time on a computer, watching excessive television or regularly working late signals disinterest in one another. Distance is a silent killer. Interrupt these patterns with spontaneous fun and adventure. Interrupt old patterns with fun and play.
- Be honest. Dr. Phil says “If you wouldn’t do something with your spouse standing right there watching, it’s probably inappropriate behavior.”
- Parent your children together. Never allow your children to come between you. There are seminars, books, DVDs and CDs on parenting. Research and find a method you can put into practice. Be consistent.
Print this list off and put it on your refrigerator. One by one incorporate them into your daily lives.
Image courtesy of Emery Co. Photo