7) Pick your battles
You both are in it for the long haul. There will likely be disagreements and fights. Don’t let your major arguments be about trivialities like who makes the bed or folds the laundry. Instead, protect your relationship by saving major disagreements for possible deal-breakers. I have found that my husband and I are much happier sleeping on an unmade bed together in peace than arguing about whose turn it is to make the bed. When you do fight, don’t fight dirty. Avoid bringing up old battles you both have overcome. Avoid name calling and cursing at each other. Instead, take a long walk and allow things to cool down. Words can be more damaging to long-term relationship success than getting physical. Avoid saying anything to your partner you will not be able to take back.
6) Establish long-term goals together
Sometimes having a common goal that you both share, apart from raising the kids, can be team building. It can be as simple as helping each other out on a personal project. My husband and I are both medical professionals in different fields. I often try to help him with projects he’s working. In so doing, I have to learn about his field. When he sees the effort I make in trying to learn about his field, it breeds appreciation for me and our relationship. He is also more likely to do the same for me. Don’t hide your needs. Be very open and honest with your partner about what you can live with and what you can’t, preferably before you enter a long-term relationship. E.g. if you want kids and your partner does not, it’s better to be honest with yourself and have this be the deal-breaker early in the relationship than years later.
5) Never stop courting
Never take your partner for granted. Always focus on the things you love about your partner. Instead of trying to change them, accept and love who they are. Always see the best in your partner. Give them the benefit of the doubt. This is how we see our partner when we first meet them and can slowly wane with time. Make efforts to continually see your partner through this fresh lens. See “Top 7 secrets to keep your relationship exciting and fresh”.
4) Revisit the past. Make new memories
Remind each other, often, of why you fell in love. My husband often teases that he thought I was so square when I brought a paper map on our first date even though he had a GPS in his car. And I make fun of fact I thought he looked like a nerd because he was wearing converse sneakers when I first met him. Those are memories that bind just the 2 of us together. Nothing can replace them. Look for ways to make new, positive memories. Incorporate your partner into your personal journey of aging gracefully. These memories are priceless and the stuff of timeless relationships.
3) Develop a “Short term memory”
As you are creating new, positive memories, know that there is a time to have a short-term memory. Earlier on in my marriage, I met a woman who had been happily married for 60 years. I asked her the secret to her long marriage. “Oh, it helps to have a short-term memory,” she said casually. I didn’t understand this fully then. But as I grow in my marriage, I have begun to appreciate the strength in this statement. Having a short-term memory can be especially helpful if your partner has hurt you unintentionally in the past. Instead of harboring unforgiveness, it helps to make it clear what you disapprove of, forgive your partner and NEVER bring it up again. Develop a short-term memory for those instances. This is true forgiveness. And your partner, if they truly love you, will appreciate you for it.
2) Laugh it up
Not taking each other too seriously can go a long way. I used to take it personally when my husband would tease me about things. I’ve learned he means no harm and it’s actually how he connects with people. Now when he teases me, I tease him back and we both laugh about it. Keep things light-hearted. If you see a post on social media that makes you laugh, share it with your partner. You’ll both have a great laugh. Go to a comedy show together. Laughter is the sweetest medicine for mind and body.