Keeping the flame alive in your marriage

By , on February 17, 2014

For Marriage 101 article

The author with her husband

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” This is my favorite quote about marriage and continues to be my guiding light in my still young married life.

In my day to day living, I am able to meet a lot of couples who have been happily married for quite some time now and are still thriving in the journey they have chosen.

Their stories have definitely helped me add a bit of spice, vibrancy, growth and joy to my married life.

So, whether you are planning to get married, just got married or have already been married for several years now, here are some tips from married couples and professionals to make this chapter of your life the best ever!

1. Give and receive compliments.

I often hear some just-married couples complaining that their partner’s sentiments or appreciation of them—on how they look and the things they do right—has gone down or been virtually non-existent after their first or second wedding anniversary.

Couple Dr. Philip Lee and Dr. Diane Rudolph, Clinical Associate Professors of Psychiatry at New York said, “Couples should spend more time acknowledging the positive aspects of their relationship and put aside their complaints.”

The simplest compliments can go a long way. Say it. Tell her that she’s more beautiful with her new hairstyle or new dress. Or praise her for her effort in learning a new recipe. I know married couples who make it a habit to give little “appreciation” notes to their partners—on the bathroom mirror or by the alarm clock—every waking day.

2.  Do not be angry at the same time.

“Constant arguing makes everyone feel terrible about the marriage,” Philip Lee and Dr. Diane Rudolph said. If there should be someone in the winning end, let it be your partner. Married couples would not always agree with one another; simply because they are different individuals with diverse thoughts. So, professionals advise couples to listen first to their partner and learn to understand where the other is coming from and what he/she wants to say. Once you feel that the argument is beginning to escalate, stop, count to 10 and just say, “Okay, you won.”

You can discuss this topic again if you want when emotions have settled down. Most often, husbands allow their wives to win. “A happy wife is a happy life” seems to be a great credo

3. Spend quality time with your spouse.

There should be no excuse for not dating once in a while.  “Everyone needs to unwind when the day ends. Do not demand that things get done [immediately] after returning home from work. Take time to relax and shed the tensions of the day,” Dr. Philip Lee and Dr. Diane Rudolph said.  “It can be wonderful to reminisce about the early days of your relationship and romance. Many people wonder what ever happened to those days.”

Lee and Rudolph also emphasized that couples need time away from the kids, house and work so they can be together. “There is nothing like the occasional dinner out at a romantic restaurant or a weekend away at a hotel.”

This Valentine’s day, despite of your frantic schedule, find time to go on a Valentine’s date. Lee and Rudolph stressed that couples should also give something personal to their partners. A bouquet of roses, a necklace, a dress, a perfume or anything that your partner likes that will make him/her feel loved and treasured.

4. Saying “Thank you” .

There are times when we forget to utter simple words that can make a difference in our married life.

According to Lee and Rudolph, “For some reason, marriage seems to bring to an end the daily practice of being polite. We forget to thank one another for little favors we do for each other. Those favors are taken for granted and that is why they can disappear. There is nothing wrong with using terms like, ‘thank you’, ‘what a nice dinner’, ‘picking up the kids really helped’, and, ‘thanks for doing the dishes tonight’.”

5. Don’t say, “You never do this.”

According to Dr. Lee and Rudolph, uttering all-or-nothing words like “you never do this,” or, “you always do that.” Or “it is not true that “we always, or “never,” are all encompassing words that can create a false catastrophic atmosphere.

Most often, we don’t know that we’re already hurting our partners with the words we utter, so it is best to think first before we say a word.

6. Don’t play the blame game. After getting married, you’re now part of one team.

Lee and Rudolph said, “Stop blaming your spouse for everything—from forgetting to close the door to the condition of world politics. All us need to become more tolerant of each others foibles. None of us are perfect and, much of the time, the things we quarrel about could be the source of lots of laughter.

7. Listen.

“How many times have I pointed out to couples in therapy that they are not listening to one another. They are not listening because they are talking over one another. Each person is so busy attempting to state their own version of things that they do not hear what is being said. I ask couples to practice paraphrasing what was just said before making a comment just to make certain they really heard and understand what was just said. So often, what we believe we heard is different from what was said,” Lee and Rudolph explained.

And my father would always tell me, “A successful marriage is made up of two good listeners.

8. Learn Together.

Marriage also means discovering new things together. Bonding moments can also be educational, and of course, fun!

Sharing your knowledge with one another can be a great source of intellectual bonding. Discover your common interests, and from there find an activity that you can both get into. You can enroll in a foreign language class or any workshop that interests you both.

There are times when you can find yourself liking a certain activity that you thought you had no interest in. My regular companion in attending writing workshops is my husband—-who is not a writer, but a chef!

I am also being the supportive wife as I accompany him in watching cooking shows, which I have grown to really like.

9. Stay attractive.

Sportscaster Patricia Bermudez-Hizon said that it is important to always feel good about yourself when you’re in any relationship. And for her, in order to feel good, you have to look good all the time.

“You must manage to stay beautiful and attractive even you’re already married, not just for your partner, but most importantly for yourself,” she explained.

10. Be intimate.

Marriage experts said that being intimate with your partner can start from saying the simple “I love you” to giving your partner a good morning kiss every waking day.

They said that there are many ways to show your affection to your spouse. An elegant dinner for two at home perhaps.

Being seductive once in a while can also add zest to your married life. Wearing revealing lingerie and tempting perfume, while rose petals are scattered on the bed and shadows of scented candles play on the walls may start something sensual and special.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!