Lesli Doares, marriage coach and author of Blueprint For a Lasting Marriage, says "a marriage is strong when both people are committed to not just their own personal happiness, but the happiness of the marriage as well." How can you do that? Here are seven expert tips to get you started.
1. Make requests, not complaints.
Let's face it: It's incredibly easy to let loose when things don't go our way. But "making a request is more positive and it makes you think about what you really want, not just what you don't," says Doares. "Your partner has a better shot of honoring your request than trying to decipher what to do with a complaint."
2. Spend at least 30 minutes a day together without distractions.
We've all heard the saying that the squeaky wheel gets the grease — and if you're marriage is running comfortably on autopilot, "it's easy to let other things take priority," points out Doares. But "if you spend at least 30 minutes together each day, you will get past the surface conversation and into the deeper meaning of things," she says. "This keeps you connected and your love alive."
3. Check in with each other every night.
It's important, says Malibu based licensed marriage therapist Alisa Ruby Bash, to unwind each evening by "talking about how your day went, what is on your mind, and anything that bothered you," she says. "Don't suppress emotions and don't let them get bottled up. Speak with love, and you will never lose each other."
4. Celebrate your differences.
Doares says that most marital problems come as a result of wanting our partners to be more like us. "Making room for their differences is uncomfortable and creates tension," Doares explains. "Instead of looking at your differences as problems to be fixed, find ways that your differences make you a better couple — the whole of your individual characteristics being greater than merely the sum of your individual ones."
5. Keep the chemistry alive in your marriage.
Dating doesn't have to end when you say, "I do," says Bash. "Remember to flirt with each other, touch each other affectionately, send sexy texts when you are at work, and build up the desire between you both," she recommends. "Even if you are tired, or a little bored with sex, don't go too long without it. Know what your partner likes and how to please them, and always try new things."
6. Be nicer to each other than you are to anyone else.
In truth, "being kind takes no greater effort than being snarky, but many couples give themselves permission to no longer be nice and considerate to each other," says Doares. "We will say we're sorry when someone bumps into us, but we won't say we're sorry to our partner when we have hurt their feelings unintentionally. Kindness and love go hand-in-hand."
7. Keep growing together.
You can continue to evolve together, by "taking new classes, traveling to new places, reading books out loud together, or listening to books on tape on the road," suggests Bash. "Always remember to keep learning, and sharing what you learn and how you feel. This will always help to keep things fresh and new. Only you can prevent things from getting stale, or from growing apart. Instead, decide you will grow together."