My partner and I have been married for nearly nine years — a far cry from forever — so we're passed the newlywed stage. We've had our first set of ups and downs, and have started to learn the hard-earned lessons of marriage. We don't know all the tricks, to be sure, and we've even turned to counseling to ensure we stay strong in our marriage. In our time together, and the time we've invested to remain together, we've come to realize that there truly is one thing you can do that'll make your relationship last forever. It seems small, sure. It seems obvious, yes. But in the midst of life and all of it's vast complexities and struggles, it's often the small and obvious things that make the most impact.
So yes, every relationship is different, but if you truly want your relationship to last forever I believe you need to express gratitude often. You also need to openly and obviously acknowledge when it's expressed.
A few years ago, my husband and I got ourselves into a bit of a rut. You know, the kind where you snark and snipe at each other, then you keep snarking and sniping at each other because that's the pattern you're in. Looking back I honestly can't remember what set us down that path, although I have to assume it was something relatively small; perhaps a string of long weeks of work and a few grumps that should have stayed in our heads instead of uttered through our lips.
The worst way to deal with an inequity, perceived or otherwise and in your marriage or home, is to start sniping at the other person or let the problem fester.
That sort of rut is easy to fall into, especially when you add kids into the mix. For us, it usually starts because I feel like I'm doing everything for everyone, and my husband feels like he is as well. Neither of us feels appreciated and we both feel put out that we have to carry the lion's share of the work.
Of course, that's almost never the case. It may feel that way, but it never is, at least as dramatically as I believe the division of labor to be in my mind. The worst way to deal with an inequity, perceived or otherwise and in your marriage or home, is to start sniping at the other person or let the problem fester. Which is, of course, what I'm prone to doing. I get frustrated and don't address whatever is frustrating me directly, instead choosing to make snarky comments about how often I do the dishes or take out the trash.
We decided that for a whole month, we would tell each other one thing we appreciated about the other at the end of every single day.
As a result, the language and thoughts I have with my partner can, and usually do, start to sour. At one point, a few years ago, I realized my partner and I had trapped ourselves into a really grumpy pattern. The words we spoke about and to each other weren't kind and they weren't loving and they definitely wren't indicitive of the relationship we share.
Thankfully, what we decided to do about it made all the difference in that moment, and has continued to make a huge difference in the years since. We decided that for a whole month, we would tell each other one thing we appreciated about the other at the end of every single day. Just one thing, about my partner's character or something I did that day to make my partner's life a little nicer or easier. We'd say things like, "Thanks for making dinner!" or, "I appreciate that you always put gas in the car." You know, things that maybe we'd think but never really say out loud. Things we'd, essentially, taken for granted and, as a result, never verbalized.
In the course of just a week, expressing gratitude to each other shifted our mindset and reminded both of us that, actually, what we need to focus on is being grateful for what the other person brings to the marriage. Is it all perfect? Nope, not even close. But just because my husband never, ever puts his shoes away doesn't mean he isn't a great partner in our marriage.
For my husband and I, we have a tendency to get stuck in ruts where thinking negatively becomes and routine, and we need to pull ourselves out of that mindset in order to appreciate our marriage and the other person. This little trick has meant we're much, much happier in our marriage without either of us actually doing that much to change anything.
We focus on the good they're doing rather than get stuck on the petty annoyances.
I can't guarantee this is the only thing you'd ever have to do in order to keep your marriage (or any romantic relationship) strong forever. In fact, my husband and I decided to go to relationship counseling this year because we were having trouble making a big decision for our family. Overall, though, taking the time to express gratitude has made an enormous difference in our general happiness and contentedness levels as a couple. We focus on the good they're doing rather than get stuck on the petty annoyances. I hope, as a result, we'll be married forever and ever.