This One Weird Trick...Marriage Edition
August 31, 2015 6:38 AM   Subscribe

I'm getting married this Sunday to a wonderful person. We've been together 5 years and have lived together for two of those years. We are both in our 30s. I'm interested in your "tricks" for a fulfilling and healthy marriage.

This is not for general advice (like "be grateful for each other everyday") though I will take that too. I am interested in specific actions you and your partner have taken to make your relationship healthy and fulfilling. It's OK if this isn't a romantic partner. Some things that we already do:

- We alternate Mondays cooking for one another. We're planning on having dinner together more often in the coming years.
- We have a bookclub date once a month where we discuss a book we read over dinner.
- We keep a list of the fridge of things we're thankful for that the other person does.
- We text good morning & good night messages while he's traveling and follow a lot of the other advice from this thread.
- When he's in town, we spend a little time everyday talking about our days before going to sleep.
- We periodically use books like 1001 question to talk about the future.

I've read this thread and got some great advice from it. Any updates?
posted by CMcG to Human Relations (43 answers total) 255 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds like you're off to a good start. Congratulations on the upcoming wedding!

My wife and I keep a journal where we write down our favourite thing about each day (although it doesn't necessarily have to involve each other). The best piece of general marriage advice I've ever been given is "don't go to sleep at night angry with each other."
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:53 AM on August 31, 2015 [7 favorites]

The #1 "secret" to success in my marriage is "the list" - a weekly check-in meeting where we talk about common issues of stress in our lives and our relationship. We start by talking about things we're grateful for about each other and our life together. Then we go down this list of topics:

- We don't bottle anything up (general chat about any bad vibes or ways we need support from each other)
- How our creative practices are going
- How our jobs are going
- Housework: are we each doing enough of it?
- Sex: are we having enough of it? Is it awesome?
- Health: are we taking care of our bodies?

We've been together for 8 years and doing this, weekly, for 5. The combination of the list and couples therapy to work on some communication issues has made our relationship much stronger and more fulfilling.

Have an awesome wedding and enjoy your partnership with this great person!
posted by torridly at 7:11 AM on August 31, 2015 [55 favorites]

Honestly? Shepherd and I have been married for nearly seven years, together for three before that, and for us, a big chunk of what makes a good marriage is that you don't just love your partner, you genuinely like spending time in their company. (I have been constantly amazed at how this isn't a given with a lot of marriages I know.)

I think you're doing pretty good stuff already, and I love TCC's idea above, so I'll add: make time for small dates. Going out for a long walk, going to your local coffee shop, finding something interesting going on in your town to check out together. Grand gestures always have their place, but it is the little outings that add up to feeling fun, close, and connected.

Congrats, by the way! Marriage is pretty rad!
posted by Kitteh at 7:15 AM on August 31, 2015 [13 favorites]

If we're out doing something and start to get upset with one another, we stop what we're doing and talk it out. We try to be very open about what we're feeling and how we're interpreting the other person's actions. If we know what we need to get through the problem, we ask for it; if one or the other just knows she's in a bad place at the moment and just needs to work through it, we say so.

We're both still working on this, but we try to clearly ask for what we want/need from the other person. In doing so, it helps me to remember that we love each other and want to do what's best for each other - so asking for what we want really is a kind of gift. As someone who in the past has tried hard not to ask for things from others, this REALLY feels like a weird, magical trick.

Finally, we frequently talk about our "us," and we genuinely try to focus on the fact that we are a team and our primary goal should be what is best for us, together. We talk about that a lot, and I think keeping it in the foreground really helps ensure that we do place our relationship first. Of course this also entails each of us wanting the best for the other, since a healthy relationship depends on happy, fulfilled partners.

Congratulations and good luck - love is the best!
posted by DingoMutt at 7:20 AM on August 31, 2015 [4 favorites]

Don't count favours/obligations.
posted by Segundus at 7:21 AM on August 31, 2015 [16 favorites]

In my household, any question that does not have an objectively right answer is settled by the convening of an electoral college, to which my wife and I each send 100 delegates.

For example:
"What should we order in for dinner tonight?"
"51% of my delegates cast their votes for Chinese food."
"80% of mine vote for pizza."
"Pizza it is!"

This has two advantages.

First, it allows us to convey exactly how passionate we are about a given choice. 51% of my delegates means "I guess I have a vague preference but it's not a big deal." 100% of my delegates means "This is the only acceptable option to me and I will be angry if you make me do something different." And the longer we know each other, the better understanding we have of what it means when the other person says 64% of their delegates, or whatever.

Second, it is just such a freaking ridiculous way of settling disputes that we can't take it too seriously. It helps prevents trivial things from escalating into arguments.
posted by yankeefog at 7:25 AM on August 31, 2015 [484 favorites]

Sex (actually the lack of it) is often one of the biggest issues for couples that drift apart. Keep it fresh, make it a priority, and it can perhaps be the glue that helps you get through the tough times.
posted by eas98 at 7:28 AM on August 31, 2015 [5 favorites]

I'm a therapist who has worked with couples, so I'm coming at this from the perspective of couples having difficulties, but: One of my professors said that her rule for couples arguing is that each argument is allowed to have two, maaaaaaybe three, things under discussion, and until all those things are resolved, no new thing is allowed to be on the table. So, basically, if partner A says they're upset because partner B hasn't been doing the dishes, and partner B says that's because partner A hasn't been unloading the dishwasher -- that's the two things. Until those two things are resolved, neither partner can add a new complaint.

It's basically a way to avoid kitchen-sinking, and what I've seen is that couples with pretty good communication skills, they just naturally do it -- one partner says, "This is bothering me," the other says, "I get that; here's my obstacle," and they focus on what each other needs until it's resolved, without getting into a one-upping "Well you always do this other thing" and "Yeah, but you never do this other thing" until everyone's buried under accusations and nothing's worked through. The "two things" rule is basically a hack to avoid arguing from a place of defensiveness, or to at least make your defensiveness work for you, because if y'all resolve this issue, then you can bring up another issue -- but you'll already have gone through the practice of resolving an issue, so you'll be coming at it from a better state of mind.
posted by jaguar at 7:41 AM on August 31, 2015 [93 favorites]

I am interested in specific actions you and your partner have taken to make your relationship healthy and fulfilling.

A lot of that is hard to keep up with if you have kids and stuff. And life gets busy and complicated and then you feel bad that you don't have time for handholding and making lists.

It's easy to focus on "fulfilling and happy" when you're riding the top of the wave. Don't set the bar so high. The problem I have experienced and seen in all of my friends is simply staying together for the long haul. Something like six out of ten end in divorce within five years and that's the reality you're up against. It's easy to drift apart - easier than you can imagine - you have to hold on for all your worth.

You know that thing Jews do when they step on the glass and crush it - it's absolutely fucking true. Marriage is fragile and you can easily do stuff to crush it. Don't do those things.

"Don't go to sleep angry" is easy to say when you're not thoroughly exhausted from staying up all night with a crying baby. My advice would be to don't try to talk shit out when you're so tired you can't see straight. Sleep it off and try again in the morning.

You want a healthy relationship? Forgive each other. Overlook each other's shortcomings. Don't leave dirty dishes in the sink. Clean up after yourself. Clean up after him/her. Take out the trash. Make an effort on all of the practical things that two people who live together have to share. Sex is important, flowers on Valentines day are nice, but nothing shows you care like cleaning the toilet.

Marriage is the third person in your relationship. You have to be committed to each other - but you have to be equally committed to your marriage. Jump in whole hog, hold nothing back, give 110%, and live your marriage like it's do or die. That's my only "trick". My old lady knows that I am fully, 100% committed to our marriage. It's not a relationship - it's a marriage - to death do us part. I'm in it for the duration and I'm never going to give up on her or on our marriage.

That's really helped when we've hit our rough patches - as everyone does - and it brings us closer every single day. Our commitment to our marriage - which is different than your commitment to each other - sustains our romance, gives fire to our sex life, and brings us happiness and joy. And it keeps that third person in the room healthy and happy too.
posted by three blind mice at 7:53 AM on August 31, 2015 [60 favorites]

We follow a couple rules in our marriage.

1. Pick one:
  • Ask me to do a thing.
  • Tell me how to do a thing.
Being asked to do something is fine. Being asked to do something differently is fine. Being asked to do something and then being told how to do it is bullshit.

2. One argument at a time, please. Resolve one issue and enjoy some conflict-free time before starting work on the next. Often whatever is next on the docket resolves itself or at least fades into unimportance.

3. It doesn't matter how important activity X is to me; if it fucks my wife off, she gets a pass, no questions asked and no resentment ever. Works both ways.

4. Publicly we are a united front of mutual respect. My spouse is never the butt of a joke in public. Privately, be able to take and dish out some teasing about the silliness of life, but that's personal and private and isn't ammunition for scoring points socially.
posted by Sternmeyer at 7:54 AM on August 31, 2015 [70 favorites]

My husband and I have been married for 33 years. We enjoy many many things together (foreign travel! cooking!) but some things that we adore as individuals but NOT as a couple. I just love charades and going to plays. He loves to deep sea fish and hunt . We tried doing these as a couple... one of us is a polite good sport etc. and that still happens once in a blue moon. What has worked fabulously: each of us enthusiastically carves out the time and money etc. so that the other can go forth to do these things with their friends. If my husband gets an opportunity to go deep sea fishing, I say "Awesome- go for it- how can I help -send me pictures" and he does the same with my girls weekend out. Over the years, I have watched other couples routinely complain, resent or even forbid their spouses to indulge in individual preferences. Lordy,send your spouse out to play at least once a month and be ready to do so if an opportunity suddenly pops up. For us, it is as much about respect as building in fun for each other. There is nothing like having the freedom to strike out on your own when you know you will be going back home to someone who will be happy to see you and happy to hear all about it.
posted by rowboat at 8:04 AM on August 31, 2015 [38 favorites]

We consider ourselves as partners or teammates, so when problems arise we avoid framing things as me vs. her, and frame is as us vs. the problem. We disagree on a child-rearing matter? It's not my style vs her style, is our whole family vs the dinner time tantrum problem. Being on the same side is awesome.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:07 AM on August 31, 2015 [19 favorites]

As rowboat discussed, allowing for individuality and individual activities/passions is very important. Just because partner A is passionate about [fill in the blank], it doesn't mean they have any less passion for the relationship or their partner.

I like the "favorite thing today" discussion, but we generally have the discussion as we're going to bed (rather than writing it down, which I imagine we'd start to let slide eventually.

I also like the "100%" negotiating strategy. If we're negotiating some kind of compromise, particularly with respect to scheduling or travel (what do we do on a Saturday, where do we go for Thanksgiving), instead of each of us trying to put forward a compromise, we both start with "here is exactly what I'd want to do, even if it's unfeasible." It is a hedge against one of us putting forward what we think is a fair compromise to start with, and then having that chewed away even more by horse-trading. It also allows us to know what the other's focus is for the day/trip/whatever so that we can try to accommodate the same. Come to think of it, I'm sure I read about the strategy on metafilter somewhere.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:11 AM on August 31, 2015 [8 favorites]

We've been married only for two years, but we're kinda outrageously happy with each other.
(hey griphus).

I guess this is more general than anything- but I trust always, 100% of the time- that my husband has the best intentions. So any time there is a misunderstanding or even if there was a white lie thrown in somewhere- he never intends to be a dick or to do something that would be unkind.

I'm sure in the grand scheme of things, the dude has had a bad day and been an asshole at some point, but digging through and finding it doesn't do me/us any good. My default is to always assume he isn't being a jerk, which means our fights are never ever blow out messes, and we don't really resent stuff because everyone has the best intentions.

Also we have a rule of "if you're crabby, announce and apologize" So if I say something shitty and I know it's shitty- I tell him I am sorry that I am crabby and I shouldn't say shitty things. and then I control my own damn self so he doesn't have to listen to his wife being shitty.
posted by Blisterlips at 8:14 AM on August 31, 2015 [41 favorites]

I'll go against the grain here and say that in my marriage (21 years) some of the key hasn't been daily or weekly things...those are great but when things get saggy, they tend to get wrapped up in the more grind-like day-to-day work of parenting, renovating, etc.

For us sharing a new experience (doesn't have to be fancy - can be a trial class or budget trip) every year if not more often is key.

Also we are really different and do this separately.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:17 AM on August 31, 2015 [4 favorites]

Quietly do the chores that are not usually yours every once in a while. Thank the other person for doing chores when you notice, even if they're supposed to be doing them. (On preview, this is tied in to the thing arcticwoman just said: chores are a Family Vs. Mess project, not a You Didn't Clean the Litter Box vs. The Kitchen Floor Is Sticky Because Of You argument. We're on the same team, so we're happy when the other person helps.)

Ask for help when needed; explain your emotional state when you feel like your spouse is being cruel and OF COURSE knows what you are feeling, get good at figuring out who needs what more in the heat of the moment. For us this comes up a lot when traveling, and also got a lot better as we matured and learned to identify our emotions and upcoming potholes. "I'm really anxious about this leg of the flight, can you get us to the gate and deal with the tickets so I can zone out a little?" "I'm getting hangry, and I know we're running a little late. If you don't have a candy bar in your bag could we just get a snack and catch the next train?" Give the other person a chance to be kind.
posted by tchemgrrl at 8:23 AM on August 31, 2015 [23 favorites]

1) it's important to take responsibility for yourself- so for example: I know I get cranky if I'm hungry, so if we are getting started on an outing that may push back dinner then I grab a granola bar. You wouldn't believe how many cranky moments that saves! Take responsibility for the things that effect your mood, that you have control of- like food and sleep.
2) visualize your future together. We visualize each next phase- currently we only visualized through the summer, now that's almost over and we are talking about the nice things were looking forward to in the fall: reading nights, new shows we want to see, how christmas will be, what it will feel like doing hikes in the mountains with all the colored leaves... Be specific and detailed! This helps you keep moving forward.
3) imagine your ideal week routine and write it down. We did this before moving in together and reality was a little different but it helped us know what the other valued.
4) encourage each other to be fit and active
5) treat each other's dream as you would your own.
6) make "suggestions" but don't criticize
7) avoid embarressing your spouse
posted by pairofshades at 8:28 AM on August 31, 2015 [9 favorites]

Married 6 years, together for 11. Do some fun things together and do other fun things separately. Have couple friends and have your own friends. Always pay attention to how much time and effort each of you spend on household chores/work/emotional labor; it must be a fair split, whatever fair means to the two of you. Reevaluate how you split this up periodically; reevaluate it often once/if you have kids.
posted by gatorae at 8:34 AM on August 31, 2015 [3 favorites]

Kitteh covers a lot of stuff we do above but my absolute #1 rule is to try to be mindful of, and announce, when I am hangry. Which seems minor but seriously, when we're out and about and I am hungry I get super pissy, and I think 99% of the shitty stuff I do is a result of low blood sugar and poor filtering. Being self-aware of when I am hangry, being clear that I am hangry, and trying my best to get some damn food in me is my top tip for myself.
posted by Shepherd at 8:35 AM on August 31, 2015 [6 favorites]

Learn your own attachment style and your partner's while things are fresh and healthy, but don't use this understanding as a way to limit your concept of your partner's emotional capabilities, especially during an argument.

Instead, use this to understand the type of comfort each partner needs on a daily basis. Maybe I miss my partner when he's gone but pick a fight when he gets home. That's like a kid who kicks and screams when the parent reappears after daycare--it doesn't mean a lack of love for (or lack or relief to see) the parent; it's a subconscious (and ineffective) way of punishing the parent for leaving in the first place.

If you test in such a way that your attachment styles match up, then great! If you differ, figure out the best way to meet your partner where s/he is. It will do you both worlds of good to understand that people are different and need different indications of security.

Security, honesty, sex, communication. You'll do well with those. Congrats!
posted by whoiam at 8:38 AM on August 31, 2015 [6 favorites]

Take care of yourself.

Take care of your body, your mental health, your hobbies, your passions, your sexual health, your finances, etc.

Be the best version of yourself that you can. Putting yourself aside in small and big ways is a poison. It often comes from a good place, helping your partner, but backfires in the long term.
posted by French Fry at 9:10 AM on August 31, 2015 [13 favorites]

The good doctor and I joke that we have "corporal cuddling" time when we just hug each other for five minutes each day, but it's been incredibly important for us to know that we can find comfort in each other's touch.
posted by evoque at 9:15 AM on August 31, 2015 [6 favorites]

We keep a list of the fridge of things we're thankful for that the other person does.

This sounds really basic, but is in line with the statement above:

Do things that you anticipate your partner is not excited about, before they even consider asking you. My partner travels so much for work that it weighs on him when our little garden goes haywire and gets weedy or out of control. I love taking time to keep it in good shape without saying anything about it. Just knowing that he comes home and gets to smile and relax his eyes on it makes me feel very, very good.

Things like that, man... they make for a heartwarming life together.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:22 AM on August 31, 2015 [12 favorites]

Laugh, dammit. Laugh at everything.

One day, you're going to look up from your morning coffee and think, "Fucking hell, they're going to be here tomorrow, too."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:37 AM on August 31, 2015 [15 favorites]

Don't let little things fester into big things.
Don't keep score.
Say "please" and "thank you."
posted by SemiSalt at 10:34 AM on August 31, 2015 [4 favorites]

If you are getting married in this century and you are college grads over 30 - which you appear to be - you are not up against "six out of ten marriages end in divorce", you are up against "one out of ten marriages end in divorce" (chart). Enjoy the good times ahead, there is no impending doom!
posted by rada at 10:40 AM on August 31, 2015 [32 favorites]

Always keep the language between you two respectful, no excuses. No names, hurtful language, or shrill sarcasm.

No matter how hard it is, assume the other person had good intentions when they did the thing that annoyed or angered you.

When you say, "I forgive you," mean it. Don't bring the thing you forgave up a year later and a year after that.

Humor, used at the right time, is a great conflict diffuser for us.

Never take chores for granted. Thank the other person for doing chores, even if s/he's supposed to.

When there's tension with the in-laws, the one whose family it is the one who calls them to work it out. The rep of your united front, if you will.

Consider marriage counseling (if you can afford it) whenever there's a major change in the relationship (having a baby, moving for one spouse's job, cancer diagnosis, infirm parent comes to live with you, kids grown and moved out, etc.). Marriage counseling isn't just for when the shit hits the fan.

Take good care of each other. Encourage each other toward your crazy dreams. There's nothing like the feeling of coming home to the one person you can count on to be on your side.

Flirt. Especially when you're going through a period of being too exhausted or stressed to have sex.

And never forget that being married is so much fun!
posted by Pearl928 at 10:46 AM on August 31, 2015 [7 favorites]

Do not ever tell your spouse to go sleep on the couch. If you are so pissed you do not want to sleep in the same bed with them (and cannot hash it out before going to sleep), grab yourself a pillow and blanket and move yourself to the couch. Let them have the bed.

All is fair in love and war. Make sure you break the rules in a loving way, not a warring way. Ordering your lover to sleep on the couch is a warring way, not a loving way. If you cannot be kind and loving during fights, you won't last long. Fights are necessary to hash out important issues, but if you stop caring about each other during a fight and just try to win by whatever means necessary, you are destroying the foundation of your marriage. Love cannot survive too much of that.
posted by Michele in California at 10:51 AM on August 31, 2015 [4 favorites]

My tip is to give the benefit of the doubt. Remember that you're on the same team, because there will be times when it feels like this person exists solely to aggravate you. Choosing to see their motivations as innocent will help you get through those tough times without saying or doing anything that might cause longterm damage.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 11:19 AM on August 31, 2015 [5 favorites]

Always kiss each other hello when you see each other at the end of a day or a period of time apart. Be pleased to see each other. (I used to jump up and down with the dogs, barking and wagging my tail when my man drove in the front gates). It's so easy to drift into casual forgetfulness of these grateful moments of rekindling time together.

Don't give up gift giving and treats just because you've been together forever.

Rub/pat/stroke each other in a non sexual way at least once a week. More often is even better.

(I get most of my relationship tips from my dogs, but anyway, they seem to know what works)
posted by honey-barbara at 12:15 PM on August 31, 2015 [18 favorites]

We have a simple rule. If you can't say anything nice (to each other), STFU.

Sometimes it is quiet in our 15 year marriage but that beats trying to figure out how to "unsay" something vicious.

We also have some pleasant little codes - like "are you hungry / tired?" means "why are you being a raging jerkface?" but can be used at any time since it follows the rule.
posted by hilaryjade at 12:47 PM on August 31, 2015 [4 favorites]

A successful marriage is one that lasts, so if you are going to exchange vows with your loved one, mean it when you say "for better or for WORSE".

Be prepared to want to stick it out even if you're no longer sexually attracted to your partner.

Be supportive when he loses his job and doesn't seem eager to get back on the career wagon.

Compromise when he suddenly becomes more religious than he's let on and want your children to adopt his faith rather than yours.

etc etc

That, and read Rudyard Kipling's poem "IF".

Enjoy your life together!
posted by Kwadeng at 12:53 PM on August 31, 2015

I favorited the following comment from Puppet McSockerson:

Value your wife and relationship over being "right". Sometimes this means that sometimes you need to decide that it isn't worth continuing to argue over just for the sake of having them agree with you. Sometimes this means that means allowing your wife to hold beliefs that you "know" to be wrong. Sometimes that means accepting the blame for things that you know aren't entirely your fault. You need to learn how to tell the difference between an argument that matters and an argument that doesn't matter.
posted by wittgenstein at 2:23 PM on August 31, 2015 [4 favorites]

Don't yell across the house/apartment/yard. Walk over there, look lovingly in their eyes, smile and ask your question or say your thing.

Dance together more than you think is enough. Even when you feel that moment where you think "damn I look silly" it will pass and the groove will come back.

Have a sweet thing you say every morning. My partner and I wake up and say "petite dejuener!" (French for breakfast, it means "little lunch", which is like, really, cute as fuck)

We very sweetly and lovingly search for the beers we both like (she doesn't like over hoppy stuff at all).

Oh yeah and dance some more.

Brush your teeth together.

NEVER say anything bad about your Partner to strangers, co workers, at comedy clubs, a party, whatever. Save that stuff for therapy if you can't discuss with your partner.

Give your team a name. (We're already team sparkles, don't be draftin', yo)
posted by Annika Cicada at 6:35 PM on August 31, 2015 [5 favorites]

35 years and counting. Cool Papa Bell's got it right: laugh! The absolute key. We read funny books to each other, we have catch phrases that crack us up ("We're OUT of glue!"), we laugh all the damn time, through awful problems and days in paradise. Our motto is: Vaudeville is not dead!

But one warning about this piece of advice, and all the others above. Mr.K and I were part of the original long term research study by Dr. John Gottman focussed on what characteristics were common to marriages that lasted. THERE WAS ONLY ONE THAT CONSISTENTLY SHOWED UP. Some couples fought all the time, some never talked about issues, some were models of "I hear you saying that you...." The only thing that really counted was that when one partner had a complaint, the other partner was not dismissive. Defensive, angry, manipulative -- whatever their style was. But not dismissive. It doesn't sound like that's going to be a problem with you. :-)

p.s. yankeefog, our family has just adopted the Delegate System. Thanks!
posted by kestralwing at 7:06 PM on August 31, 2015 [14 favorites]

If you can easily do something yourself then simply do it 99.99% of the time, no "...while you are up please can you..." It's marriage not getting each other as servants!
posted by meepmeow at 7:34 PM on August 31, 2015 [3 favorites]

Just say thank you for the little things once in a while. Like, "hey, thanks for paying the insurance bill" or "I see you cleaned the kitchen, it looks great!" Those little things go a long way.

Make time for each other. Even if you're busy, carve out a little time for your partner. Netflix does not count.
posted by Ostara at 11:05 PM on August 31, 2015 [3 favorites]

Treat each other like you would treat honored guests. This is the central person in your life, so they deserve as much consideration as your great-grandma. This has to go both ways - both of you anticipate each other - "Hey, Im gonna grab another coffee, want anything?" "I am at the grocery store - do you have enough of (favorite snack)" "Do you want help with that?"

Stay your own selves. Make and keep friends that share the interests your spouse doesn't. You aren't two-becoming-one, you are two choosing to work through life together. Keep choosing each other, and do it in part by staying interesting yourself. Learn new things, and tell each other about them.

Fight fair. You will fight, sooner or later, and it is important to have ground rules firmly in place before you are ready to chew nails and spit out tacks. Address the problem, not the person. When they say something that hurts, stop, rephrase what you think they meant, and ask them if that's what they were going for. When you get angry enough that you are having trouble not lashing out, say so, and take a short break to cool off and think. Avoid statements using words like 'always' and 'never' -that bogs down into 'well that time!!!'

Pick a time each day - bedtime, early morning, whenever, and designate that your together time. It doesn't have to be long - 5 minutes, even less - but in those minutes, you focus on nothing but each other, and you do it every day. You might be surprised how that can make you both feel closer and more connected even in the midst of some very harsh stressors.

Congratulations - May you have many joyful years together
posted by Vigilant at 11:18 PM on August 31, 2015 [4 favorites]

We're only going on 18 years. We're not like the power couple who has all their stuff together. We're disorganized and undisciplined and constantly struggle with getting it together but our marriage is strong and passionate.

Selflessness is the most important things in our marriage. If there are two pieces of cake, I always give her the biggest one. The principle applies to everything and I am not always successful at it. Just give the best of everything you have to your partner, your heart and soul and cake (I really like cake). Self sacrifice for your mate will strengthen your love like you won't believe.

And enjoy sex frequently. Very frequently. It's cheap or free. Physical intimacy is glue to the relationship. Make time for sexy encounters on a regular basis (not predictable or boring). You don't necessarily need to calendar them, but make the time all the time. Even or especially when you don't want to.

Plan your stuff together and coordinate your spending.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 7:32 AM on September 1, 2015 [6 favorites]

Try to give 100% as often as you can. And be okay with them doing the same.

Perfect is the enemy of good.
posted by talldean at 4:00 PM on September 1, 2015

Never ever use the bathroom with the door open. Somethings should stay a mystery, forever.
Also flowers don't seem to hurt.
posted by Toddles at 4:50 PM on September 2, 2015 [7 favorites]

We thank one another all the freaking time. We probably sound a little daft, but I'm fine with that. It's our way of saying "I see that thing you did, and appreciate that you did it." Appreciation is worth so much to both of us.

The delegate system named above is great; we do tend to be honest about something ("I want Chinese but could do something else" versus "I really, really want pizza"). And no one gets what they want EVERY time; we do trade off on who gets to decide The Thing.

We find something to amuse one another all the time, whether it's kitten pictures on the internet or hilarious stories or things I've read here on Mefi. Life can be ridiculous, might as well laugh.
posted by RogueTech at 6:13 PM on September 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Be kind to each other, be on each others' team.
posted by theora55 at 11:37 AM on May 26, 2016

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