1. Burn your blueprint.
Rid yourself of whatever fantasies you harbor about the bliss of coupled life. They’re not helping. There is no script, so don’t be disappointed when your fairytale gets hijacked.
Didn’t Jesus say something about forgiving someone not just seven times but seventy times seven? That would be 490 times….which should last you through your first 6 months. Jesus underestimated because, remember, he wasn’t married.
3. And forget.
If you forgive but don’t forget, did you really forgive? I know people who claim to have forgiven but still use every available opportunity to bring it up. And if you don’t want to forgive, forgetting works just as well.
4. Be a good teammate.
Life can come at you hard. One of the nice things about marriage and relationships is being able to have someone else in the bunker when you’re getting shelled.
If you still have the same desires, opinions and beliefs at age 50 that you did at age 25, that’s your own damn fault. You will not, and should not, be the same person you were then.
6. And adapt.
Even if you stagnate, the person you’re in a relationship with will change. Don’t fight it. Embrace it, learn from it, be thankful for it.
7. Find your faith.
There is great comfort in believing in something or someone beyond our crude human existence. Explore this belief. Take this journey together.
8. Travel together.
Travel forces couples to rely on one another in unpredictable ways. It will also broaden your worldview and the way you value your relationship.
9. Travel separately.
I want to go to Australia and you want to go to Maine? Cool. Take lots of pictures. See you in a week.
10. Develop your own interests.
It seems counter-intuitive, but you will enhance your relationship when you pursue your separate interests.
11. Cultivate a wide, diverse circle of friends.
One of the greatest joys of living is meeting new people. And many of the people you meet will likely make you appreciate your mate even more.
12. Don’t keep score.
I know a couple who keeps track of the number of times each partner completes a household chore. Don’t do this. It’s exhausting. And childish.
You owe it to each other to be in the best physical health possible. The mental side effects from exercise will also be beneficial.
14. Practice self-awareness.
Take frequent looks in the mirror. Reflect on who you are and the contributions you are making to your relationship. Are you being judgmental? Unfair? Harsh? Hypercritical? Defensive?
15. Admit that you’re wrong (even, on occasion, when you aren’t).
This is both the easiest and hardest thing to do on this list. But this simple gesture will pay immeasurable dividends; it will help you grow and it’s just the right thing to do.
16. Celebrate accomplishments big and small.
Whether it’s a promotion at work or the police officer let you off with just a warning, find every occasion possible to toast your good fortune.
17. Surprise one another.
Fill up her car. Let him sleep alone in the bed once in a while. Buy some bacon.
18. It’s the good little things.
Holding the door, suggesting a movie night, paying attention. The reward for these is greater than the sum of the parts.
19. And it’s the bad little things.
Cracking your knuckles, spitting, clearing your throat, picking your nose, chewing ice. These are death by a thousand cuts to your relationship.
20. Cultivate your finer qualities.
When do you ever have an opportunity to really work on qualities that make you a better person? In a strong relationship, you can do it every single day. Qualities like patience, loyalty, compassion, trust.