1. Unfortunately the single most important thing is often surprisingly overlooked – marry the right person. Many unhappy couples report seeing red flags before walking down the aisle, but they walked down it anyway. If you saw things that concerned you before you got married chances are considerably high that they won’t change just because you are legally bound. In fact, being married will only magnify the differences and problems further. Marriage should be for the long-haul, and you will find that the concerns you attempted to minimize or dismiss early on tend to be exactly what leads you to divorce down the road.
2. Prioritize your marriage over everything else. Marriages really do wither and die if they aren’t lovingly attended to day in and day out. It’s easy to allow work, kids, household responsibilities, and outside interests to get in the way – don’t let them. Strong marriages provide stability and security for the entire family and a happy marriage is one of the best things you can ever do for your children. And as important as work is at the end of your life it’s probably going to be your relationships with others that will determine whether or not you are at peace with how you lived your life. I’ve yet to meet a single person who said to me, “I wish I worked more.”
3. Be the best of friends and keep a sense of humor – you’ll need it. Life is hard, and it’s a lot easier if you have a true friend by your side. Friendship truly is the foundation of any successful marriage. Two people who genuinely adore each other, enjoy spending time and laughing together, and support and respect each other will have a strong relationship that can stand the test of time. Your partner should be the one person in the world who truly “gets” you.
4. Fighting often is okay, but fight in the right way. Frequent arguing in and of itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. How you argue and your ability to make up easily is what really matters. Couples who truly feel comfortable and respected in their relationship can fight fairly and mend hurt feelings quickly after conflict.
5. Work to keep the romance alive. Sex and romance changes over the course of a marriage. Familiarity, time, and the stress of day to day life can chip away at the passion and excitement that couples typically feel in the infancy of their relationship. It’s important to keep expectations realistic and recognize that as time goes by keeping the passion alive takes more effort. Make time to prioritize the romantic and physical aspects of your relationship.