After 23 years of marriage, I divorced and was later fortunate to fall in love with my current husband. We each brought two teenaged children to the marriage. Life was filled with much joy. After several months, reality set in, and I began to realize that my first marriage had started as lovingly and full of promise as my current one. This time around, I was determined to learn from my mistakes and “do” marriage differently. At the time, I sensed those happy long-term relationships must share certain common traits, and I was determined to discover what these were.
The following are my top seven tips for nurturing a relationship that you want to live in. After extensively researching the relationship literature, this list was created, interviewing happy couples who have been together for at least twenty years and personal experience.
- Express your love daily. Small acts such as a kind word, a good deed, a long kiss, a warm embrace, or quickly repairing hurt feelings can do wonders.
- In an honest, respectful, and timely fashion, share what’s on your mind. Tell each other what you want, need, and feel so that the other person knows who you are and where you’re coming from.
- Choose to love. When you do, you will be more responsive than reactive and more positive than negative.
- Create daily couple time to share your day. This is one of the greatest gifts you can give each other.
- Laugh with your partner! Humor keeps things in perspective and makes life more fun.
- Read The Heart of the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. For your partner to hear and feel your love, you have to communicate with them in their language.
- Weekly, ask each other on a scale of 1 to 5 if they feel loved. If the answer is 4 or less, ask your partner to suggest something you could do for them over the following week.
Originally published in North Valley Magazine, Tempe, AZ.