For those who choose to tie the knot, it’s easy to get into a pattern of bad habits over time. Whether your work life is creeping into the time you used to spend together or you simply can’t remember the last time the two of you sat down to talk, relationships can get stagnant, and couples can grow apart.
The good news? Keeping your marriage as fun and exciting as it was when you first said “I do” is easy with a few additions to your regular routine. And when you want to find out what really makes marriage last in the long run, turn to the 40 Secrets of People Who’ve Been Married 40 Years!
Plan Regular Date Nights
Keeping the spark alive in your marriage means spending quality time together, and that doesn’t just mean nights at home on the couch. Plan romantic dates like the ones you had when you were dating and you’ll keep that spark alive. In fact, research suggests date nights can have serious benefits in terms of bringing long-term couples closer. If you’re in the market for some terrific inspiration, check out these 40 Irresistible Second-Date Ideas.
Say Thank You
It’s easy to forget your manners when you’ve been with someone for a long time. However, saying “please” and “thank you” to your significant other can go a long way toward making them feel respected and appreciated. In fact, researchers at the University of North Carolina have found that expressing gratitude to a partner helped strengthen relationships. Bonus: saying “thanks” is also The One Word That Will Boost Your Mood By 25 Percent.
Keeping your relationship intimate, whether in or out of bed, can make a big difference in how fresh your romance feels over time. In fact, research published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior reveals that the frequency with which couples were intimate was significantly related to their overall relationship satisfaction.
Surprise One Another
Break out of the monotony of your day-to-day routine by surprising your spouse. Whether you’re bringing home a gift or just leaving a note reminding them how much you love them, it’s a gesture that won’t go unappreciated. If you’re a man, we’ve got your back: Here’s The Single Best Way to Surprise Your Wife.
Put Your Relationship First
Everything from a hectic work schedule to kids at home can make it hard to keep putting your marriage first. However, whenever possible, make time to do routine maintenance on your relationship, whether that means taking a vacation with just the two of you or just talking at the end of a long day.
Treat Your Significant Other Like Your Friend
Treating your partner like your friend, from patiently listening to them to acting happy to see them when they walk through the door, can make a major difference in how romantic your relationship remains in the long run.
Journal About Your Disagreements
Don’t leave your fights unresolved. In fact, for a healthy marriage, you should be writing them down. According to a study conducted at Northwestern University, marital decline was significantly diminished among couples who did a regular journaling exercise about the status of their relationship. And for more amazing relationship advice, read these 50 Relationship Quotes to Reignite Your Love.
Even if you’re not in the mood for something more intimate, that doesn’t mean you should limit your physical affection toward your spouse. Kiss them before you go to sleep, when they head off to work in the morning, and any time you want to remind them just how much you love them. In fact, kissing can boost your dopamine levels, making you feel happier and more content every time you do it.
One-sided relationships rarely last. When you want to make your marriage feel like more of a two-way street, make sure you’re asking your partner questions. Ask about their day at work, their friends, or just ask them what they’ve been thinking about. Asking questions will go a long way toward making them feel appreciated. Just remember the 20 Things No Husband Ever Wants to Hear.
And when you ask questions, take the time to really listen. Don’t just wait your turn to talk, but focus on what your partner is saying, and offer constructive advice, if that’s what they want.
Admit When You’re Wrong
As hard as it may be, admitting when you’re wrong can go a long way. Remember: in the long run, being kind is more important than being right.
Go Out Without One Another
Absence really does make the heart grow stronger from time to time. Spending time without your spouse, whether that means going to a concert or heading to a bar with friends, can give you plenty of exciting stuff to talk about with your spouse when you get home.
Remind Yourselves of Your Priorities
It can be easy to lose sight of your priorities when you’re in a long-term relationship. Keep them in mind by making a list of what you both want out of your marriage and revisit it from time to time when it feels like you’re going astray. And for more sound relationship advice, here are 30 Things Straight Couples Can Learn from Gay Couples.
Create Rituals Together
Creating new rituals and traditions together can help bring you closer together, no matter how long you’ve been married. Have a special seat at your favorite restaurant. Create new holiday traditions. Keep making new traditions and memories together and that spark will remain lit, no matter how long you’ve been with one another.
Dress Up for One Another
Don’t let sweatpants and ratty t-shirts become your uniform just because you’ve been together for a long time. Put on your hottest LBD or a nice suit and make it a point to take your significant other out on the town to show them off as often as possible.
Be Transparent About Your Finances
Money issues are one of the biggest factors leading to divorce. Keep your relationship romantic by being honest about how much you’re making and how much you’re spending; a little transparency can go a long way. If you’re looking for more communication advice, here are the 17 Worst Things a Man Can Say to a Woman.
Check In Throughout the Day
Instead of just waiting until the end of the day to talk to your spouse, check in periodically with texts and ask him or her how her day is going. Those little romantic gestures can keep your relationship feeling fresh, even when you’ve been together a long time.
Say “I Love You”
Three simple words can make a big difference in how you and your spouse feel about each other. Even when you fight, make sure you still say “I love you” to one another before you go to bed or leave for work. Even if you don’t like each other in the moment, remind them that the love is still there.
Let Little Things Go
Did your partner put down a cup without a coaster? Did they make the bed weirdly? If your partner keeps making the same mistake over and over, you can mention it, but letting little things go will make you both happier and less resentful in the long run.
If your partner’s having a glass of wine, go ahead and have one with them. Research suggests that discrepancies in your drinking habits can lead to marital strife, so don’t hit the bottle solo if you want to keep your relationship in working order.
Try Some Role Play
Make things more exciting by adding a little role play into your date night. Let your spouse pick you up at a bar as though you’re just meeting for the first time and you’ll keep things fresh and fun.
It’s easy to slip into a pattern of spending every evening on the couch with your significant other. Make a commitment to get outside together on a daily basis, even if you’re just taking a short walk to the store, and you’ll not only get more exercise, you’ll have more to talk about, too.
Tell Them What You Appreciate About Them
Make time to show your spouse just how much you appreciate them by reminding them (and yourself) what you love about them. Tell them how you love their laugh, the smell of their hair, or just how much you love waking up to them—it will make your relationship feel romantic, no matter how long you’ve been together.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Feeling like you’re drifting away from your spouse? Try keeping a gratitude journal. By listing the things you’re grateful for in your relationship, you’ll make it easier to remember why you fell in love in the first place.
Foster Your Personal Interests
Having a life outside your marriage is essential for the health of your relationship. Making time to pursue personal passions will keep the spark alive during the time you and your spouse do get to spend together.
Put Down Your Phone
Nothing breaks down communication more than having your phone in your hand when you’re supposed to be listening. When you’re talking to your partner, put your phone away.
Get in a Regular Workout
Want to spice things up in bed? Try hitting the gym first. According to research published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, exercise can help make women friskier.
But Don’t Overdo It
That doesn’t mean you need to become a CrossFit champion any time soon, though. Researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill found that intense exercise lowered libido among men.
Do Something Impulsive
Break out of a relationship rut with a little impulsivity. Take a spontaneous vacation. Host a last-minute party with your friends. Doing something out of the norm can make your relationship feel fresh, even if you’ve been together for decades.
Give Yourself Homework on How to Do Better
Tackling your relationship issues sometimes takes more than just initiative. Try talking to your partner about the things they’d like you to change, and make a point of doing them, as though they were actually assigned tasks.
Make New Friends
Adding some new people to your inner circle can make your relationship feel fresh in no time. Making new friends outside of your relationship can broaden your horizons and your spouse’s while bringing you closer together.
Maintain Some Mystery
Don’t become the people with the shared Facebook account. Don’t become the people who use the bathroom when the other one is showering. Keep some mystery in your relationship and you’ll feel a lot more connected in the long run. Want to know what you shouldn’t be sharing? Start with the 13 Secrets You Should Always Keep From Your Partner!
Get a Babysitter
Kids can be a joy, but it’s undeniably harder to find time for romance with them in the picture. Whenever possible, book yourself a babysitter and go out with your spouse like you did when you were dating. Even if you don’t have time for a night on the town, just a few uninterrupted hours at home together can do a world of good.
Add Some Romantic Viewing to Your Routine
Want to keep things spicy? Add some romantic movies to your roster. According to research conducted at the University of Rochester, talking about romantic movies made couples significantly less likely to split than those who shunned the rom-com viewings. And when you want to brush up on your classic cinema, add the 37 Movies Every Man Over 40 Should Be Able to Quote to your must-watch list.
Be More Giving
Even if you typically go Dutch, treat your partner whenever you can afford to. Those little gestures will make a major difference in your appreciation of one another over time.
Develop a Mutual Hobby
Want to get closer to your spouse? Try participating in a mutual hobby. Whether you’re taking cooking classes or hitting the gym together, a new common interest will keep things hot.
Send Each Other an Occasional Flirty Text
Hearing “I love you” is great, but if you want to keep things spicy, send your partner something a little more flirtatious from time to time. “I can’t wait until you get home” or “I can’t wait for you to see this new outfit” is always nice to hear.
Tell Your Significant Other When They Look Good
Your significant other deserves to know more than just that they’re loved. They need to feel wanted, too. Whenever possible, tell them how good they look and how much you appreciate the time they take to do so. And when you want to show off for your partner, tone up with The Single Greatest Flat-Abs Exercise You’re Not Doing!
Take Some Work Off Their Plate
If chores feel like they’re the only thing you and your spouse do together, try taking something off their plate. Give them a break to do something they’d enjoy more; it won’t go unappreciated.
Write Each Other Love Letters
Make your spouse feel wanted and loved by writing him or her a love letter from time to time. Don’t just leave it on their nightstand, either—actually send it to them in the mail for a sweet surprise.
Spend Time Apart
Marriage often involves marathon togetherness, and that kind of time spent together can be draining. From time to time, take a solo weekend away from your spouse to relax and you’ll return home feeling more excited to see them than ever.
Don’t Shy Away From Corny Ideas
Just because you think leaving a trail of rose petals is corny doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Those grand romantic gestures you see in movies can make your spouse feel loved and appreciated. At the very least, you’ll have a good laugh over how cheesy it is. Need some inspiration? Start with the 7 Ways to Reignite Your Romance in Your 40s!
Be Each Other’s Cheerleaders
Whether your partner is up for a promotion at work or shaved a minute off their mile, make sure they know how proud you are of their accomplishments. And when they fail, be there to catch them, too.
Pack on the PDA
Kissing doesn’t have to be an inside-only activity. Show the world how proud you are to be with your significant other by giving them a big old smooch in public when the mood strikes.
Hold Hands in Public
Of course, kissing isn’t the only way to show your affection. When you’re out with your partner, hold their hand; not only can this make you feel closer to one another, research suggests it may even limit stress and pain.
Leave Work at Work
Bringing your work home can have a profoundly detrimental effect on your relationship. Make your home a sanctuary for your relationship by trying to compartmentalize your work stress and don’t let it spill over into your marriage.
Go ahead and give yourself permission to be a little flirtatious with someone other than your spouse from time to time. Doing so can help fuel a little bit of healthy jealousy and keep things hot at home.
But Don’t Go Any Further
But make sure you don’t take things too far. Talking to someone at a bar is one thing, but exchanging numbers—or worse—won’t do any favors for your marriage in the long run.
Ask Before You Make Decisions
Make your partner feel included and important by asking their opinion before you make big decisions. Whether you’re making a big purchase or are trying to decide where to dinner, making your decisions a collaborative process will keep you closer in the long run.
Get to Bed at the Same Time
Want to keep your marriage happy for the next 10, 20, or 50 years? Make sure you’re hitting the hay at the same time. Research published in Psychosomatic Medicine reveals that women viewed interactions with their partners more positively when they went to bed together. And when you want to make it easier to hit the hay, start with the 20 Nighttime Habits Guaranteed to Help You Sleep Better.
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