When you’ve been married for a number of years, the “new” feeling begins to wear off. You begin to get incredibly comfortable in the relationship and often begin to see your partner as just a completely natural part of your life.
At that level of complacency, it’s easy to forget about the effort that it took to build up your relationship. It’s easy to forget about the maintenance and just let things roll.
That’s how marriages that were once strong can fall apart, which is a personal, spiritual, financial, and social disaster for the people involved.
Just like anything else in life, from your hygiene to your car, it takes some continual effort to keep a marriage running well.
How can you keep your marriage running smoothly?
Notice what your partner contributes. Most marriages involve both partners contributing some combination of income, household effort, emotional investment, and other things. I constantly find things that Sarah is doing to make our marriage and household stronger.
Notice good things about your partner. What are some good traits that your partner brings to the table? Humor? Attention to detail? Work ethic? Commitment to stability? Effective parenting? Look for those all the time.
Tell your partner what you notice. When you notice these things, don’t be afraid to say it and don’t be afraid to say that you appreciate it.
Do things that your partner enjoys, even if it’s not your thing. If I were single, I wouldn’t own a television because I just wouldn’t watch it – what little I want to watch I can find online. Sarah, however, has a handful of programs that she really enjoys, so I make an effort to watch them with her and (generally) keep my mouth shut if I don’t like them. She reciprocates, particularly when it comes to playoff baseball.
Find time to be alone. This is powerfully true if you have children. You need time to be adults together instead of being in “parent” mode. Don’t feel bad about having a babysitter sometimes and just spending time together. Visits to the grandparents aren’t just good for the kids.
Marriage doesn’t require you to throw money at it to make it work. It just requires that you care – and that you show that you care.
This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of Brittany Lynne Photography, the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.