1. Talk your face off.Communication, by far, is the #1 rule that couples cite as the key to a lasting marriage. And truthfully, I believe it, because I've seen the importance in my marriage. I know that I have the tendency to shut down and keep my emotions and frustrations bottled up when I'm really upset, so to counteract that, I hash out everything to death with my husband instead. I would even say I over-communicate, because it's just that important to me. We both might get sick of talking everything out, but it makes a huge difference in keeping a rock-solid relationship.
2. Banish TV from the bedroom.I've always had a hard and fast rule about banning the TV from our bedroom. Now that TV is everywhere, of course, this one has gotten a lot harder for us. This goes for Netflix, too! (Who doesn't enjoy a little late night video in bed with their phone?) But for the most part, I think our marriage benefits when we have at least one area of our house that is "screen-free," and let me assure you, you might stumble across other ways to keep yourselves entertained in the bedroom. (Pillow fort, anyone?)
3. Pick your battles."My grandparents' 61st anniversary is today," said one wise wife. "She always told me to pick your battles, and just listen when you know you're right and bite your tongue." With a marriage than has seen everything from the moon landing to Kanye's live television meltdowns, I'm going to just go ahead and say that that's a woman has the experience to know what she's talking about.
4. Learn to let go of the little things.Raise your digital hand if you're guilty of holding a grudge like no one's business. For the wives (cough, me, cough) who keep track of how many times their husbands miss the laundry basket, forget to pick up the one thing we asked for from the grocery store, or somehow didn't notice the baby's explosive poopy diaper, it's time for a change. Make like Elsa and let go of all of the little resentments, because if they don't matter in the long run, you're only hurting yourself.
5. It's a marathon, not a sprint."When things are easy, we can get by on the basics — respect, humor, and communication," says Joanna Schlaud, who has five children with her husband, Ted. "When things get tough, we have to reach deep down and think about the big picture: the qualities that the other person brings to the table, who would be affected by following your feelings, and how life will look better later if we give up a little if what we want now." Bottom line? Marriage is about the long haul, not just how you're feeling right this minute.
6. Be selfless once in a while.I'm super guilty of thinking that because I'm a working mom and a wife, that somehow marriage revolves around me and my needs, like my husband is just there to help me keep life running smoothly. So whenever I start feeling stressed or just "out of synch," I know it's a signal to get the heck out of my selfish head and do something nice for him. Nothing fancy — just making him his favorite breakfast or making sure he has a cup of coffee in the morning usually does the trick. It's the little things that can mean the most.
7. Accept that you can't control your spouse's actions.How many times have you thought, "Well, if my husband would plan date night once in a while, I'd be more than willing to do some of his favorite things in return." "If you're waiting around for more love from your partner first, you might wait forever," explains Lauren Hartmann on her blog, The Little Things We Do. "If you want to have a good partner ... BE a good partner. And honestly, if you are being loving to your husband, there's a pretty high likelihood he's going to reciprocate."
8. Work out your own issues.According to Megan Bishop, one of the keys to a lasting marriage is a willingness to work on your own individual issues that could affect your marriage. If you've got some work to do on yourself, do it not only for your own personal well-being, but also for the health of your marriage. Therapy, party of one anybody?
9. Assume the best in the other."For us, the key is to assume the best in the other person," says Leigha Campbell. "You're upset much less when they just get it wrong, but still tried. I never intend for him to feel disrespected, and I know he never intends for me to feel unloved. It just changes the perspective (which for me, changes everything)." Imagine how much marriage would change if we started every disagreement with assuming the best from our partner instead of the worst.
10. Act like he's your boyfriend.It sounds trite, but it matters. It's kind of silly when you think about how the rest of the world gets the best version of ourselves, while our spouse gets the exhausted, Netflix-marathon-in-our-sweatpants version. "Act like you're still dating," suggests wife and mother of two, Anne Dziekońska, who runs a photography business with her husband. "Do things you know will make your spouse happy, especially when you're exhausted, don't feel like it and don't think you have the time."