When you first get married, you're in a honeymoon phase and can't imagine spending one minute apart from your new spouse. Over time, the new excitement of your partnership starts to fade away, and you get used to living together and the daily routines that you fall into. If you have children, life becomes even more busy and chaotic. It's at this stage that some couples get lost in the routine and lose the spark of what brought them together in the first place. Life happens, you get busy, and sometimes you forget what things were like back when you first said, "I do." Marriage takes work, but if you're wondering how to keep a marriage strong, there are a few things you can do to make sure yours is happy and thriving.
Read on for six secrets for keeping your marriage strong.
Rely on Open Communication
Communication is an essential element of a happy marriage. Nobody likes to feel like they are left in the dark in regards to what their spouse is feeling. Make it a point to keep your partner up-to-date with what's going on in your life and what you're thinking and feeling. Lack of communication can lead to couples losing touch with one another, so make it a point to have deep and meaningful conversations.
Embrace Mutual Respect and Admiration
When you love someone, you should respect and admire that person. Each partner in the marriage should consider the other person's feelings and what's on their mind. It's normal to have moments of miscommunication, confusion, and not understanding where the other person is coming from, but it's important to always support and respect each other. If your spouse has an idea that you don't necessarily agree with, listen to them and appreciate that they felt the need to talk to you about it.
"Couples that avoid saying every critical thought when discussing touchy topics are consistently the happiest," says Ilene S. Cohen, Ph.D. Even if you don't agree with your spouse, show respect for what they want and believe.
Make Date Nights a Priority
Dating shouldn't be lost when you get married, and no matter how busy you get, you should still take time out of your lives to get dressed up and spend an evening together as a couple away from home. Romance will help keep your marriage thriving, so make it something you strive for. Try to aim for a date night at least once a month.
Date night doesn't have to be fancy or expensive. Whatever you choose to do, use it as a time where you can have some light-hearted conversation and reconnect as a couple.
Have Constructive Disagreements
It's inevitable that when two people live together, they're going to have disagreements. One of you will come home from work in a bad mood, or your spouse will want to have a deep conversation when all you want to do is watch TV. It's normal to have disagreements from time-to-time, but they should be constructive and not turn into full-blown arguments. When people argue, nasty things can be said which can be very hurtful to your spouse. "Successful couples know how to exit an argument," Strauss Cohen says. "If an argument gets too heated, take a 20-minute break, and agree to approach the topic again when you’re both calm."
Trust Each Other
Trust is the foundation of a healthy relationship, and you have to trust your partner if the marriage is going to thrive. There should never be a reason to keep secrets or lie to your spouse, so make sure to always be open and honest in your relationship. If you're having financial problems, for example, make sure to keep your spouse in the loop so that you can work together to fix the issues. It's also vital to be transparent about your relationships with other people so that it never appears as though you're being unfaithful. When there is trust in a marriage, it's more likely to stay strong.
Keep Life Fun
Another important secret to a happy marriage is to keep it fun. Your significant other should be your best friend in life and you both should work together to have as much fun as you can, no matter how busy or tough life gets. "For many couples, friendship is a healthy, hearty component of a successful marriage," says Wendy L. Patrick, Ph.D. Take vacations, find hobbies you both enjoy, and laugh as often as you can.