1. Be honest with each other. No keeping secrets. Keeping things from each other is essentially just lying to each other and there's no room for lies in a caring, meaningful relationship.
2. Be a team. It's not You vs. Him. Stick with the mentality of You and Him vs. Everything Else. If you face things together, there's no stopping you.
3. Be sensitive. Don't say anything you might regret later. I know it's tough when tempers flare, but don't take your anger about a situation out on him. He might be silently dealing with the same emotions and you don't want words said in the heat of the moment to hang over your relationship like a dark, ominous cloud.
4. Be willing to compromise. Even when you want to do things your way, talk it out and listen to his point of view. Most likely, he'll have a completely different way of looking at a situation/problem/whatever that wasn't even on your radar and it will be that much easier to work out. See, I told you teamwork was essential!
5. Take an interest in his hobbies. Sure, you each need your own time to do what makes you happy, but once in a while, watch golf/hockey/etc. with him. Be open-minded. You might just find something unexpected you like about his favorite sport and, in turn, that will give you something else to talk about besides bills/work/etc. There are plenty of cute guys in every sport to keep you interested.
Since taking this approach, now hubby and me can say that we "knew" Jordan Spieth when he had that smokin' hot year and won the green jacket. And I can also say with confidence that Gian Villante is my favorite MMA fighter. With golf, there's the skill, the low-key peacefulness of it, the beautifully landscaped courses and lovely birdsong. In MMA, there are sweaty, shirtless alpha males. Look for the positive. You can find something that speaks to you and a reason to spend more time together.
6. Never bad-mouth each other to anyone else. When I worked office jobs, it always amazed me how willing women were to rag on their husbands. Constantly. All that does is make you sound like a complete moron for marrying someone so "terrible." That's a good way to demolish trust, the precious cornerstone your relationship should be based upon.
7. The thing you're arguing about isn't always what you're really fighting about. Huh? Yup. Crazy as it might sound, it's true. Sometimes (most of the time), there's a bigger, underlying problem that is just grating and rubbing raw, waiting for you to realize it. You might claim you're yelling at him because he didn't (insert mundane household task here), but really you're upset because he forgot to (insert big thing that probably means more to you than it does to him.) Oops! Inserting big things into other things is usually what I write about in my books! Anywho, moving on...
8. Talk about the "good ole days." Some of my best memories with my hubby are lying in bed and reminiscing about "that time we ___." Relive those good times by talking about them on occasion. They're your greatest hits and worth busting out once in a while. It's always interesting to see how his memories of an event differ from yours. (And believe me, they will. Just don't argue about them or that defeats the whole purpose of the exercise!)
Looking back at the past doesn't have to be a negative thing. Don't dwell on the negative times. Revel in the good ones. Trust me, even if you don't think there are that many, there are. You wouldn't have fallen in love without a few laughs along the way.
9. It isn't always about you. If he's trying to work out a problem on his own, he might appear distracted or get short with you. Try not to take it personally because when you get right down to it, it's probably not about anything you did. Give him your shoulder to lean on and listen. Don't be quick to offer up advice. Wait until he gets everything off his chest and then try to be helpful. You might be able to offer a completely different perspective than he thought about. Help each other. You're in this together, remember?
10. Don't let outsiders influence what's going on in your marriage. Other people are always quick to offer up their opinions about your life and propose biased advice, but it's important to work things out with him first. You and him are the nucleus of your universe. Never let anyone else try and take that away from you. They don't know your soul the way he does. And they don't know your behind-closed-doors life. Sometimes others have their own agendas and issues and you don't need to give them the power to break the trust you've built with your man.
And, because it's February and I'm in a lovey-dovey sort of mood, here is a bonus tip on how to keep those wedding vows the best thing you ever did...
11. Try to see things from his point of view. I know, I know, it's difficult to do when you know you're right, end of story. But, believe it or not, he probably has a pretty good reason for being so bull-headed on an issue, and all it takes is your openness to momentarily step away from your pride and try to see things through his eyes. You can tell him "I told you so" later.
All right, hopeless romantics, what do you think of my tips for a happy, successful, long-lasting marriage? Any of these look like they're worth incorporating into your own relationship? Or are they just bullhonky coming from a hopeless romance author?