In today’s modern world we sometimes brush aside old wisdom, thinking that what we see on the internet is more pertinent, more flashy, more in tune with contemporary tastes.
But old adages remain in the mainstream culture for a reason: they still make sense. The tips handed down through generations stay vibrant because they speak to us and our situations. As the saying goes, ‘there’s nothing new under the sun’, and that is especially true as it applies to marriage.
People throughout the ages have gotten married for the same reasons: to unite one-on-one with that one special person who has captivated your heart, mind and soul.
Let’s look at some of the marriage tips that have lasted throughout the decades, and are as applicable today as they were 100 years ago. Because while hemlines and shoe styles change, the basics of love do not.
Love is present in the small gestures
Movies make us think that unless love is shown through large dramatic gestures, it isn’t really loving. How many films show us marriage proposals made over the aeroplane intercom system, or “I Love You, Irene” broadcast over the Jumbotron at a baseball game?
But long-married happy couples know this truth, it’s the little daily things you do for your partner that show and reinforce your love for each other.
From preparing her cup of coffee just the way she likes it in the morning, to having his favorite poster framed as a surprise “just because.”
These little niceties provide your spouse with a jolt of the feel-good hormone dopamine, which creates that pleasurable feedback loop, reminding them that you are indeed, their special someone.
Don’t get stuck on the negative
Older couples will tell you that the secret to their long relationship is that they never dwelled on the small things that bothered them about their partner.
Instead, they focused on all the positives they saw. So when you start grumbling because your spouse forgot to take the recycling to the curb once again, put that aside and remember that he is great at playing with the kids and talking baseball with your dad.
This doesn’t mean you don’t have to bring up the issue that is annoying, but just don’t spend the evening on it. A simple “Oh, honey, can we figure out a system so the recycling gets taken out on time?” will do it.
Don’t take each other for granted
People like to be appreciated.
Your spouse loves it when he feels seen, heard and recognized. So take some time each day to express gratitude towards them.
From thanking them for being such a help in the house by telling them you are so glad to get married to them, it doesn’t have to be a big speech. Just a few words will go a long way in keeping the love flame burning.
Self-care first so you can show up as the best partner you can be
Great couples know they are great together and great apart.
Your spouse is not your coach, your therapist, nor your doctor. If you need help working out any mental health issues, see a professional counselor.
If you need some motivation to get in shape or lose weight, bring in an outside expert.
The point is that you want to be your best self so you function as a balanced adult within the context of your relationship. This means doing what you can to feel great mentally and physically. Your health and the health of your couple is worth the work.
Play to your strengths
Many modern couples think that everything should be 100% equal in the marriage. Work hours, childcare duties, finances, but this doesn’t take into account personal strengths and weaknesses.
Do a true assessment of each other’s strong points.
If it makes better sense to have one of you working longer hours for career advancement and the other picking up the household responsibilities, go with that. As long as you are both happy and agree on the setup, there’s no shame in not splitting every detail down the middle.
Yes, argue. You might think that arguing is a bad sign in a marriage.
Couples who argue actually love each other more than couples who hold everything in.
So go ahead and enter into productive conflict when you and your spouse don’t see eye to eye on an issue. This is how you work things out. This is how you strengthen your marital bond. When a couple feels free enough to take the gloves off and get down and dirty, it means they trust each other to be their true selves and not be rejected or abandoned.
As long as the argument is fair and productive, don’t hesitate to raise your voices from time to time.
But don’t go to bed angry
Make sure that argument gets resolved before you hit the hay. Going to bed angry will guarantee a bad night’s sleep.
So seek resolution, kiss and makeup. Post-fight sex has a certain something to it, correct?
Sex. Don’t neglect it
It’s untrue that sexual heat dies off over the years.
There are so many ways to keep your desire levels going, or at least compensate for the inevitable dips in libido. First, recognize that there will be times when you just don’t feel like doing it, and that’s normal. These may include when the children are young when one or both of you are ill, family issues with parents, or just general busyness.
But do make an effort to keep a love life vibrant. Go to bed together. Snuggle even if it doesn’t necessarily lead to sex. Take advantage of the childfree moments to have sex like you did in the early days. And, once the children have fled the nest, keep it going with new ideas (sex toys, role-playing, fantasy).
A great sex life is one of the most powerful relationship-bonds you can have.
It keeps you close and intimate and reminds you of just one of the reasons you chose that wonderful mate of yours.