25 tips from our grandparents on how to make marriage last
25 tips from our grandparents on how to make marriage last
The divorce rate in America has substantially declined in the last decade, thanks to millennials who are waiting to get married - or aren't getting hitched at all. As for baby boomers, the divorce rate has pretty much doubled since the 1990s, but what about their parents? For the "silent generation," divorce was never an option. Times have certainly changed, but knowing that many of our grandparents succeeded in their marriages gives us hope for a chance at lifelong love. Here are their tips on how to make marriage last.
Give each other space
Don't forgo the things you love if your spouse isn't fully interested in them, too. If you're craving a weekend getaway with your girls, but the hubby has his sights on a fishing trip (or isn't interested in mani-pedis), embrace the opportunity to temporarily go your separate ways. Distance makes the heart grow fonder.
Find more time to be with each other
Even though it's important to maintain your independence, it's equally important to spend quality time with your husband or wife. If you find that your schedule only allows you to see them in passing, make it a point to sit together and talk - even if it's for just a half hour over breakfast in the morning or with a glass of wine before bed. Make plans together on weekends or schedule the same vacation time.
Accept their friends
Regardless of whether or not you like your spouse's friends, the reality is that they're going to be a part of your life. If they're socially awkward or annoying, that behavior is likely coming from a place of insecurity. Practice tolerance and compassion, and respectfully voice your concerns in private, but don't force your significant other to choose between you and their friends.
Make time for your friends and family
When people get into relationships, their availability to others changes. It's important to find a balance between devoting time to your partner and other loved ones. If a friend or family member complains that they never see you anymore, listen to them. Spending too much time with your spouse could damage other vital relationships.
Find common interests
More often than not, married couples do what they like on their own time. There's nothing wrong with having separate hobbies, but if you have a conversation about activities that you would enjoy doing together, that could really strengthen your connection.
Be a team
A marriage is a union. When you say "I do," you become teammates and success comes only by working together. Instead of trying to have things your way when conflict rolls around, compromise with a solution that you both feel good about. Be allies! Squaring up against your significant other rarely creates a positive outcome.
Being intimate is a huge part of keeping romance alive and physical contact is needed outside the bedroom, too. Certain levels of PDA are totally unacceptable, but it's encouraged to comfort your spouse by putting your hand on their back, giving them a hug or quick kiss, or holding their hand.
The more you laugh, the happier your relationship will be. To create these positive interactions, tell each other humorous things that happened throughout the day, do something you're bad at or watch a funny movie. Don't be afraid to get a little silly and - most importantly - learn to laugh at yourself.
Be committed to each other
Marriage is a lifelong commitment. To make it work, both parties have to be all-in with thoughts, words and actions. Eliminate distractions and temptations that might cause your relationship harm, because while some people can forgive, they never forget.
Proper communication is key. Should a problem arise, explain what's bothering you in a non-accusatory, constructive way. Listen without being defensive, be forward about your wants and needs, express gratitude and positive feelings, use words of affirmation, make eye contact and avoid mindreading.
Talk out your problems before they build up
Most relationships don't blow up at random, but from small problems that build up over time - slowly but surely. Work the kinks out as quickly as you can to avoid growing resentment and an inevitable demise.
Speak kindly, even in tense situations
It's not what you say, but how you say it. Treat others how you want to be treated! If you feel like you might say something you'll later regret, leave the room until you've calmed down. But as a rule of thumb: Be kind.
Have a date night once a month
Just because you're already married doesn't mean you should stop trying to impress your spouse. Dress up, make restaurant reservations, go to a movie, do a wine tasting, visit a museum, catch a game, take a cooking class or stay in and enjoy a homemade candlelight dinner. The opportunities are endless.
Cooking is a form of creative communication. Studies show that the majority of couples who cook together are happier in their relationships. When you both put in an effort, not only does it strengthen your bond, but it makes the food taste better too.
Figure out their love language
There are five different love languages including words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. In order to figure out which way to show love in deeper, more meaningful ways, ask your partner which one(s) they prefer.
Trust each other
Trust is a hugely important component of any healthy relationship. A person who is trustworthy is compassionate, vulnerable, respectful and considerate. They should make you feel safe physically and emotionally. If you don't have trust, you don't have anything.
Keep things private on social media
Giving your significant other a shout out on social media every once in a while is nice, but over-posting can be a sign of insecurity. Are you trying to convince others that your relationship is happy and healthy? Are you seeking validation? Enjoy each other's company in the present instead of relying heavily on social media to prove your worth.
Respect each other's opinions
Even though you found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, there will be times when you have differing opinions. This isn't always a bad thing! But don't let it drive a wedge between you. Avoid conflict by agreeing to disagree.
Good things come to those who wait. There are many stages in marriage - some boring, others exciting - and although they can sometimes be difficult, they're normal. Having patience gives you a chance to grow with your partner, so that you both make it to the next stage together.
Honesty is critical in any healthy relationship. If you lie (no matter big or small), you risk the chance of your spouse losing trust in you.
Support each other's interests
You should support your spouse in their endeavors - even if you're not necessarily interested in them. By putting aside your opinions, you show that you truly value and care for your partner.
Remember your vows
Think of marriage like a contract. In your vows, you promised to be there for each other "for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health," and so on and so forth. To some, these may seem like trivial words mentioned at every standard wedding, but they have merit. At one point in your life, you felt them in your bones.
Traveling takes you away from the hustle and bustle (or bore) of everyday life. It may be comfortable to stay in routine, but experiencing new cultures and cuisines puts you in a sunny feel-good mood, which you then associate with your spouse. You see each other at your best - but also at your worst. You gain new perspective (on the world and on your husband or wife) and you grow together as a team through triumphs and stresses. Couples who travel together agree more and argue less. They even have better sex.
Wear your hearing aid
According to the National Institutes of Health, only 20 percent of people who could benefit from hearing aids actually wear them. Others keep them in their nightstand because of poor fit or lack of confidence. Some may just forget to put them in. Whatever the case is, it's important to wear them. Your loved ones need to communicate with you, and it's not healthy to yell at one another over and over again until you're able to hear what they say.
Don't go to bed angry
While it may be the most cliché tip, it holds true. Letting unresolved conflict stew overnight can ruin one's sleep, and less sleep hurts your health. The odds of "starting fresh" the next morning are slim to none because oftentimes harsh feelings carry over from the night before. This also hinders sexual intimacy and sends your spouse the message that you care more about winning the argument than the value of your relationship - and that's just one of 25 habits of toxic people.
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