This year my husband Seth and I celebrated 20 years of marriage. In today’s day and age, with divorce rates in the USA at 40-50%, this is a legit thing to celebrate. I’ve been reflecting recently on how deeply and madly in love I am with him, and how rare this is to come by. Is it by chance that our love has succeeded? Not by a long shot.
I don’t take our years together for granted. In fact, more than ever, I’m aware of the forces that pull couples into the ‘uncoupling’ direction. It’s actually serious hard work to stay together and any married couple that tells you otherwise is making up that whole happiness-in-a-bottle.
I don’t profess to be the world’s leading expert on marriage and, until I have visible grey hairs and all my kids are all married off, I can’t claim to have fully figured out any romance success strategy. But I do have some things to share that might help you stay more in love, remain more committed, and ultimately feel satisfied and blissful in your long-term relationship.
1. Run the same track
In my case, we actually both run — him far better than me. But, I’m really talking about staying committed to the same big-picture values. As time ticks, you both start to change. That’s normal and good. Well, unless your vision of the world shifts and you no longer want the same things. Keep engaged in conversations where you remain aligned with a similar vision.
2. Show some respect
The lowest lows in our marriage have been the times when we didn’t respect each other. When I rolled my eyes at his jokes or when he didn’t make me feel validated in front of others. It’s kind of more normal than not to dis your closest peeps, but it’s one of the worst things ever for your relationship. It’s hard sometimes when you’re fighting hard, but try and show the greatest respect for each other at all times.
3. Stay Hot
I’m not talking pre-menopause hot flashes. I’m talking sexy hot. Yes, I’m actually saying that you should groom yourself and stay looking your best for the opposite sex. Don’t shoot me down for saying this. C’mon … we’re all human. You should take the same care of yourself now as you did when you were dating. Why? Because you still are. Or at least you should be.
4. Stay away from each other
Say what? Seth and I spend a fair bit of time apart, which only makes us long for each other’s company more. In our case, we are separated by a few time zones and continents for work necessity. But it should be as simple as spending a night out with friends so that coming back together is time coveted.
5. Carve out time for each other
As important as it is to have some alone time, it’s even more important to carve out together time. We both have full-time careers and four kids tugging at our pants for some love. At the end of the day, the easiest person to put off is each other. Worst thing ever! We used to have a dedicated once-a-week date night (great idea!), but these days there are weeks we’re apart. So as soon as we are together, I schedule something special. A staycation, a dinner, a yoga class, a good sweat session (in the gym that is, or any other way to sweat it out. Got any ideas you can think of?). Make the time, devote yourself fully, and it will always pay off.
6. Put your spouse on a pedestal
Seth is the king of his work world and I’m the queen of my work world. Sometimes, when we come together at home we’re each made to feel more like paupers — a prescription for disaster! This year I’ve vowed for Seth to feel like a King at home. It’s a really bad idea to think you can find fulfillment and validation somewhere else. Home is where love is!