I have been married to my Hubby for twenty six years this year and we are madly in love. People often comment on how blissfully happy we are, but it hasn't always been that way. We have been through the mill many times, even separating for nearly a year eight years ago and when we decided to get back together, we made a pact to constantly work on our relationship.
We appreciate each other, respect each others wishes and we never bring up past hurts. We have both messed up and we have both been in the wrong, but we chose to forgive and move on. Now we are reaching middle age, we look back at all the good times that we have shared together, bringing up our four children together and now we are enjoying our Granddaughter together as a couple and we know it has all been worth it. We have a long shared history and after working through the stormy times together we know how strong we are.
Marriage and long term relationships are about giving half of yourself and receiving half of someone back. It is about love, honesty and building a life together. Here are my top tips for making your relationship work. These are things that have worked and continue to work for us.
Remember: For these tips to work you must both want it and be willing to try. Not just one of you.
1. You Are A Team - You will argue and you will bicker, but never battle against each other. Look for a compromise. You won't agree with everything each other say or do, but you are a team so face every challenge together. Go into your marriage or partnership knowing that there will be problems, but make the decision from the start that when they arise you will work through them together.
It wont always be a bed of roses. It takes a lot of work and effort to make a relationship work. There will be struggles and times when you feel like you want to give up. Persevere and don't be tempted to walk away because it gets a little bit difficult. Always step into your spouses shoes and look at things from their point of view.
2. Compromise - If he/she hates doing dishes and scrubbing the loo, then be the one to do it and don't be upset when he/she never initiates the cleaning. The jobs you hate working on like clearing the gutters, cutting the hedge or tidying the shed ask him/her to do those chores instead. Discover what you're both good at/don't mind doing, and never complain when the other lacks in 'your' department. Deciding from day one what your household chores will be, will stop a lot of nagging and arguments before they start.
3. No Need for Outside Input - Don't let anyone come between you and your spouse. A relationship or marriage is a partnership of two people, there is no place for outside input. Never discuss your problems with other people because it will cause resentments and it can cause friends/family to become extremely negative towards your spouse, if all they hear are one sided criticisms. Keep private matters private. It really is best not to involve family or friends in your marital grumblings. Some never let you forget the rubbish times and will dredge it up from time to time, raking up old negative feelings which can often then lead to an old row resurfacing. Never badmouth your spouse.
Don't let others try and push you to act one way or the other. Lots of people will be quick to suggest the easiest option, unfortunately the easiest option usually involves giving up, or just letting it slide. Giving up will leave you without your partner and letting it slide will eat away at you and cause deep rooted resentments. No matter how bad things get, as long as both of you are willing to work together then you can get through it.
4. Be patient, be Kind, be Loving - Forgiveness is the only way to truly love someone for a long period of time, but often it is the one thing that is overlooked. Learn from your mistakes and forgive your spouse if they mess up. Even if you feel like they have broken your heart, it doesn't mean that it is the end of your relationship because you can move on from almost anything, including infidelity and heartbreak. You can end up stronger and happier than ever before.
5. The respect of Friends - If your friends don't respect your spouse, they don't respect you. Time to move on and find friends who will love and support your marriage/relationship. Joint friends who love you both are the best type of friendships to have. Only have people in your lives who don't involve themselves in your marriage or try and cause you problems by getting too involved.
6. Be Best Friends as well as Lovers - Remain friends as well as lovers. Your spouse should be your best friend and should always come before any other friends. Do activities together. Share hobbies and even if you do not share the same interests then find something that you both enjoy doing together and do it regularly. Keep the romance alive. Initiate sex, kiss, cuddle and tell your spouse how hot you think they are. Compliment often and thank them for the good things that they do for you.
7. The Grass Is NOT greener on the other side - Never be envious of other peoples relationships. What you may view as the perfect couple could look completely different behind closed doors and a lot of those blissfully happy couples have been through many troubles together themselves to have reached their happy place.
There will sometimes be temptation to stray, especially after you have been together for a while. You are at your weakest during periods of times of mundane routine. Boredom can set in and an interesting stranger can turn your head. As I said previously, you can move on after an infidelity so don't assume it's the end. It can even improve a relationship if dealt with appropriately. You will fall in and out of love many times, but always make sure it is with your spouse.
8. Would I be Happy With That? - Always ask yourself 'would I be happy with that?' If the answer is no then don't do it, for example don't buy that £200 pair of shoes if you would flip out if he spent £200 on fishing gear or don't go clubbing all hours if you don't like him/her going clubbing. Treat him/her exactly how you would want to be treated.
9. No-one is Perfect - When all those little things he/she does start driving you insane, remember all those little annoying things that you do that he/she puts up with. Don't tell me you never annoy him/her because I don't believe you. There will be something. He/she is not perfect, but neither are you. Remember you don't own him/her. Marriage is about committing yourself to the other person, not controlling them. To often people think they possess their spouse instead of promoting their good points.
10. Communication - Always communicate with each other. If something is bothering you, then talk about it. Be loyal and never talk to a friend about stuff you wouldn't say to your spouse. Compliment your spouse at least once a day if not more and never let them feel unloved or taken for granted. When you have conversations look each other in the eyes and really listen, don't just 'hear them'. Value what they have to say.
Have you got any tips to add?
What has worked for you?