A good marriage starts with a spark that grows with careful attention to its needs. The following essential ingredients have been an important part of our almost 30 year marriage. Without them, I don't think we could have managed the trials that have come and will continue to come our way.
Always hold hands - even when you're at odds with each other
I remember the exhilaration I felt the first time my husband and I held hands. This simple gesture confirmed he loved me as much as I loved him.
After almost 30 years of marriage, we're still holding hands. I love my husband more than the day we married and can't imagine not having his hand in mine - in the car, during walks, watching a movie, when we pray, shopping and when and wherever we are.
Hold your spouse's hand. It'll warm your hearts.
Do what you can to look and feel good for yourself and your spouse
Remember dating? We picked out our best clothes and shoes. Every single hair was in place. We smelled great, looked great and felt great. And we did it all for our date. Then marriage and life stepped in and some of us let ourselves go.
I often think about this. I'm guilty of letting myself go. How do I know? I decided to take better care of my health. Statistically, based on our family genetics, I'm nearing the end of my life due to diabetes, heart disease and cancer. None of these have manifested in me, but to keep them away, I've decided to take better care of myself. You can follow this process at my blog.
I hadn't realized the state of my body until I lost weight. In my mind I'm still in my 20s. I feel better, look better and, even though our marriage didn't seem in any danger, my husband and I see and feel the difference. His, now, regular comments, once almost forgotten, have told me he likes the changes.
Plan a date with your spouse and take some time to get ready for it. You might feel 10 or 20 years younger.
Many times, when I berated my husband for his faults, I accomplished nothing but to anger him. He didn't change and we were at odds. I began to wonder if I had made a mistake in marrying him. I didn't want our marriage to end, but I didn't know how to find the joy that belonged with our love.
A really good friend advised me to point the finger at myself. If I changed, he would change and, most likely, in the ways needed. I tried this and our marriage is stronger, tighter and more joyful. I also learned those little things that didn't change are part of him and I discovered I didn't want those parts lost to me.
Now, when I'm thinking about pointing, I remember when I point at him, my remaining fingers are pointing at me.
Kiss when you separate, when you meet, when you get home, before exiting the car - whenever it feels right. There is nothing as reassuring as the reminder of your spouse's love through a kiss.
I remember our first kiss. I knew he loved me. I knew he was mine (I told him forever). I still know this. Even when it's a quick peck as he leaves for work in the morning.
Always start and end with a kiss, even if it's in public.
Have fun together
My husband is an automotive technician. I am an animal lover. He collects cars, I collect animals. It's not been easy to see eye to eye in our collections. Over time I've grown to enjoy our car talks and the times he's shown me how to fix them and he has fallen in love with most of the animals I've brought home.
As our children have grown older and we spend more time together outside the home, we've learned to enjoy nature together. Walks in the Everglades, trail rides in his Discovery, photography and walks along the beach. In the past these activities didn't often involve both of us and the children. Now the children join as often as their schedules allow.
Check out your spouse's hobbies and job. Look for things to do together and have fun. You may fall in love again.
I love you
Right along with always holding hands and kissing as often as possible is saying, thinking and writing on little notes, "I Love You."
My husband said these words to me while dating. I didn't reply. He asked why and I told him I didn't want to say, "I Love You," unless he knew what I meant. We discussed the meaning of these three important words. He learned when I say, "I Love You," I mean forever and not only for yesterday or today. I love him not only for the joy he has brought, but also for the challenges that have matured us and the growth we've done together and will continue in the future.
Consider adding these essential ingredients to your marriage. Discuss them with your spouse and you may strengthen and add years to your union.