The original version of this article was originally published on Nurturing Marriage. It has been republished here with permission.
Over the past year, we've interviewed dozens upon dozens of couples from all walks of life. Through these interviews, we've gathered some of the best marriage advice around from ordinary (and amazing!) people just like you. People who are living proof that this practical kind of advice helps. People who are experiencing the ups and downs of married life and building their happily-ever-after in the process.
We wanted to know what marriage advice couples, who are in the thick of married life, would share with other couples seeking to improve their marriages. We've been blown away by the amount of deep, insightful and wise advice these folks have shared with us. If you're looking for some great marriage advice, then you've come to the right place. This is the kind of advice that helps nurture marriages.
Marriage is not a 50/50 way of life. It is a 100/100 complete companionship. Each of you has to give 100 percent.
Wake up daily and decide to choose to love your spouse. You can't wait to feel the love because in most cases you won't. Love inside marriage is a choice.
Life is hard sometimes, and few things are harder on a marriage than a bad attitude.
Be each others 'ego keeper.' Defend and stand by your spouse, and don't talk or complain about them to others.
It's OK to apologize even if you feel you weren't at fault. You can just be sorry for the situation.
Your spouse's needs trump your children's wants.
Don't sweat the small stuff.
Choose your love and love your choice.
Be naked in front of your spouse as much as you can. By removing the shame that many feel about their naked bodies, open and honest communication can happen. Don't always wait until the dark of night to enjoy each other's company.
Never talk badly about your spouse to others. It just harbors bad feelings. Communicate directly with him or her if there is an issue.
Listen to what each other has to say and then compromise.
Say 'thank you.' Say it for the big things your spouse does, and say it for all the little things, too. You value the things you are thankful for.
The best way to stay married is to not get divorced. In 15 years of marriage, there have been times when staying married has seemed like a prison sentence. I'm not going to sugarcoat it — everyone I know who has been married for longer than 10 years agrees that marriage is HARD.
You aren't responsible for your spouse's choices.
Try to be the better spouse. Be the first to apologize, to say you are sorry and to forgive. The better person isn't the one to win the argument, he or she is the one who is able to apologize first.
If you don't mean it, don't say it. You can't take words back. Only use words that build.
Sometimes sleeping on it is great.
Communicate. Even if you are a 'perfect fit' when you first get married, you won't be for long. Talk about stuff.
A moment of patience in a moment of anger saves you a hundred moments of regret. Patience can go a long way in building a happy marriage.
Kindness and unselfishness are the two key ingredients.
If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.
Work it out, don't drag it out.
Pray together, and thank God for your spouse.
Always keep your friendship alive.
When making big decisions in marriage, make sure both spouses are 100 percent on board. Sometimes you will make the wrong decision, but as long as you were both in it together, everything will be OK.
Be willing to forgive. Accept the mistakes you make, and ask for forgiveness.
Work on your problems together rather than with family and friends. Your relationship will grow stronger, and other people don't need to know the whole story.
Don't be afraid to be the one who loves more.
If you feel like times are tough and you can't go on with your marriage, go to a single adult dance and see what there is to offer on the other side. It will give you pretty good perspective, and you will realize as tough as marriage can be, the alternative is much worse.
Aaron & April are the founders of Nurturing Marriage, a website dedicated to strengthening marriages. They enjoy playing football with their two little boys, watching sports, eating cereal late at night, and going out for frozen yogurt.