The wedding dress is packed away, the guest book is placed on the shelf and the honeymoon is over. Your wedding was everything you imagined, and now you get to live the rest of your life with your best friend. The start of the best, most exciting adventure has begun, and it seems like life couldn't get any better.
It usually isn't until newlyweds have their first argument that they realize marriage isn't for the faint-hearted. After the honeymoon, couples are thrown back into real life. There are bills to pay, a house to clean and dinners to make. Separate jobs and hobbies compete for each spouse's attention, and it becomes hard to find a balance.
Here are seven ways to ensure your marriage lasts:
1. Make it a priority
Whether it's a hobby, skill or talent, people make time for things that matter most to them. Marriage is like practicing the piano; the more time and effort you put into it, the better you'll become and the more confident you'll be. Although the music is hard at times, the sacrifices you make and the mishaps you overcome make it that much more beautiful. Putting time into your marriage every day guarantees great rewards.
2. Keep learning about each other
"When a couple is falling in love, every second and every bit of information about each other is fascinating," says Alisa Ruby Bash, a licensed marriage counselor.
The same needs to be for your marriage. Take the time to learn and grow together by trying new things. Put away the technology and have real conversations. Tell him the best part of your days, and let him tell you everything that concerns him. The conversations you both share throughout the day should be the best part of your day.
3. Keep falling in love
Life has its ups and downs, and it's easy for the wild, romantic feelings to ebb away. Love is a choice and it gets stronger over time, if you're willing to repeatedly make that choice.
Work every day to keep the spark in your relationship such as taking a weekend getaway, sending a flirty text messages and setting aside time to reconnect at night emotionally and physically
4. Don't keep score
"People often evaluate their relationships with a bookkeeping or justice model, and that really says, 'I don't need to do something for my partner unless my partner is doing stuff for me,'" says Dr. Everett Worthington, a professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Strive to serve your partner without expecting anything in return. Create an environment where you give your partner the benefit of the doubt and forgive easily and quickly. Peace will abound in the home and your partner might step it up without you having to remind or reprimand.
5. Leave selfishness at the door
With dishes in the sink, children running around in smelly diapers and work deadlines looming, "spouse time" seems just as impossible as "me" time. It's easier to tone out your spouse and just chill with Netflix, but marriage is about giving 100 percent, not 50/50. Remember to give your whole self to your spouse and to serve him or her to the best of your capability.
6. Look for the good
Anyone who looks for bad is going to find the bad and vice versa. If you constantly look for the good in your spouse, then your love will grow more every day. You will consider yourself the luckiest person alive to have such a wonderful partner.
Also, don't talk bad about your spouse to your friends or family. It's easier for you to forgive and forget regarding things your spouse has done than it is for your loved ones if they only hear the bad.
"We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh," says Agnes Repplier, an essayist and biographer.
Laughter brings love into a marriage. As the years go by and jobs, financial stress, children, family moves, deaths and other stresses come into play, laughing is a way to reconnect, relieve stress, focus on what matters most and enjoy life.
A simple way to include all of these tips is to incorporate a regular date night into your couple routine. After all, dating is just as important after marriage as it is before.