#5-Remember to Say "Thank You"
When my husband and I began dating over 8 years ago, I promised him early on that I would ALWAYS thank him for taking me out for a meal (or buying me something). It was slightly humorous once we were living together and had a joint bank account, but I still wanted to use my manners, and keep my promise that I would say thank you. I would say, more than eight years later I have about an 85% success rate in remembering this promise. Regardless, there are some couples out there that this notion would never even cross their minds. Even though what we have is "ours", it still places an emphasis that I realize we have come together from separate places to reach goals and enjoy life together. I want him to know that I appreciate his sacrifices of time and money toward me and our family.
#4- Remember to Say "I Love You"
Another thing over time we have maintained with even higher success than "thank you" is "I love you". When couples first say these three magical words, they tend to get used a lot in the beginning because it is a fresh new feeling and feels so right to say. Over some time, we begin to feel even more comfortable in our relationship and start to assume the other person just knows it and doesn't need the verbal reminder of our love for them. We say the actual words "I love you" less than in the beginning, but we still say them more than most other couples that have been together as long as we have. We say I love you when physically leaving the other person, we say it at the end of a phone call, we say it each night before bed (OK, occasionally one of us falls asleep early or one of us gets mad at the other person...but ALMOST always).
#3-It's O.K to Change Over Time
My husband and I are both singularly and collectively NOT the same people we were when we first met. How could we be? It is something important for couples to think about every once in a while. People change each other, so I would be scared if we hadn't changed over time. One of my favorite ways to tackle this discussion is to sit down and talk and have a "remember when" conversation. It is a way I can bring up positive (or negative) memories or experiences and then compare them to how things have improved over time or what I would like to try to change back to the better way it was. Plus, it is just fun to think about how far one has gone in life and how things can change on a whim without thought or planning.
Every couple has something about the other that they love at first, then over time it becomes an irritating habit or something they could never share that really bothers them because they already said it didn't. This is natural and happens to everyone, but it is all about how you handle it. Are you able to let things slide or must you make it a priority issue in your relationship? Honesty is a good policy, but it is possible to be too honest and break down a trust that has been built. It takes far longer to repair trust than it does to build it up the first time.
#2- Allow Your Significant Other to Continue to Trust You
As we change over time, we also sometimes change the things we like or want to do. If our new interests are in slight conflict of a previously discussed topic, it is going to be very important to maintain open communication (#1 on the list). Doing things in secret or deceptively is a sure fire way to get your significant other to begin to lose trust in you and your relationship. There could be a reasonably simple explanation as to why you don't want to talk to your significant other about something, but I guarantee it will be much harder AFTER your partner has created their own imaginative explanations for what you have been doing or thinking. You can avoid your spouse wrongly assuming things about you by maintaining an open communication.
#1- Open Communication
This is relationship 101 here, but something that still fails to occur regularly and at its optimal level. Open communication is important to all types of relationships (co-workers, parents, siblings, friends, etc.). Many people have advice for this, and many people think they know the perfect way to achieve open communication, but I think the truest fact of all is that every relationship is completely different. Therefore, every group that tries to achieve open communication is going to have their own special way of going about it. I do have some generally accepted guidelines to make your communication fair and respected:
*don't just talk, but listen too
*use language that isn't accusatory, use "we" or "I", limit your use of "you"
*talk about things that are bothering you before you are fighting, it's not fair to have a list of things not related to your argument to use as fuel against the other. Stick to the relevant facts of your fight
I'm sure there are many other great tips on happy and successful marriages, but for me, these are the five that are very important. Try to remember the little things, they go a long way!