A list of tips for creating a healthy and happy relationship, because relationships aren't a passive activity.
Don't expect it to be happy every single day. There will be rough patches.
Do stuff together just to be together.
Keep saying "thank you". Being married to someone doesn't make you entitled to anything they do for you. If your Significant Other takes out the trash or gets you a soda, thank them. It keeps them from feeling taken for granted.
Communicate. Learn how to fight constructively. Don't have anything so scary that it simply can't be talked about.
Never insult the other just for the sake of 'winning' an argument by being the meaner person. It only creates more pain and problems.
Have sex. Make love. Have romantic times and wild times. Keep love interesting.
Learn how to plan finances wisely.
Work at it. Every day. Even if it's just a little work. You work at your job, you work out to stay in shape, you work on your house to keep it up...why not your marriage? Isn't that worth a little bit of work?
Learn what makes the other person feel loved and do it.
Forgive minor offences, and try to understand the major ones.
Always say I love you when one of you is leaving (going to work, whatever) no matter how mad you are. God forbid something should happen to that person. Everyone needs to know they are always loved!
Laugh together as often as possible.
Learn how to listen to, and give needs in a non-demanding/selfish way.
Never stop dating each other.
Make sure both of you know how each other feel, sometimes a big fight can be avoided by spotting a foul mood before something is said/done that will escalate.
Always remember that you are a team, not in competition with each other - this means that sometimes shit won't go your way in deference to the betterment of the family and don't keep score.
Instead of seeing an argument as you vs your partner, think of it as both of you vs the issue.
Learn to compromise. Sometimes things that one wants, the other doesnt. It doesnt mean that you're not compatible, it just means your visions arent lined up completely.
Be the other's "home" - meaning that you are their safe place. If work or a hobby is keeping them away from you, don't just bitch when they do have time for you and make them want to stay away more. You may have to be creative and develop healthy ways to amuse yourself when you are by yourself.
Share a vision of the future that you're both working toward, whatever it is. If you secretly want radically different things, it won't be a happy thing.
Don't sweat the small stuff.
Give her/his family all the same breaks and excuses you give your own.
Never marry someone expecting that it will make them change. You'll both be disappointed.
Give more than you get and remember that you're on the same team.
Get her a little present when she's not expecting it. It can be cheap or homemade. Just make sure she knows you still think about her and can be romantic.
If you think you say i love you too much say it even more.
Don't be lazy. Being with someone for a long time can make you both too comfortable.
Understand that the relationship is not going to be equal on all levels but that each contribution is equally important.
Make sure you marry the right person. They had better be fun OUTSIDE of the bedroom.
Also, never EVER call each other names. It's childish. You can't take it back. Fight fair and keep on topic.
Treat the other person how you would like to be treated.
Be able to admit mistakes (and apologize for them even if it is days later).
Marry someone who you consider your best friend. This is someone who will be with you for the rest of your life. Be sure that they are someone who you get along with.
If it happened in the past, leave it there. You can't do a very good job of going forward if you are always looking back.
Make sure they know you love them.
Once hurtful words are spoken you cannot take them back.
Always make sure that you can look back and laugh with and sometimes at each other.
Learn to talk/discuss without escalating things into and argument or fight.
Never fight in front of family or friends and never involve them in a fight. It makes them uncomfortable. Your problems should be kept under your roof and between the two of you. You are both adults, act like it.
Have "date" nights where it is just the two of you. Go out to diner (doesn't have to be fancy), see a movie, go mini-golfing, or whatever you both enjoy. Most importantly though, don't bring your cell phones. Be completely focused on each other for a night.
Know what you want and don't be afraid to tell your significant other what that is. It is no fun for anyone to have to guess what you want to do to be happy.
An apology is not enough. Don't repeat the behavior and expect to just repeat "I'm sorry." It will not work.
Learn how to discuss tasks/chores effectively.
Don't play mind games and don't put up with them
have similar values.
THE most important thing is to make each other feel valued and not taken for granted.
Respect each other no matter what, especially when in disagreement.
Smile when you answer a phone call from your partner. This goes for all phone calls, but it's particularly important with your SO.
Don't gloat. You might make more money than your spouse, maybe you're the better driver, maybe you discovered a cure for male pattern baldness. Whatever. Let your spouse celebrate your wins with you, but don't shove them down your spouse's throat every single opportunity for the rest of your life. Then it stops being about you celebrating with them, and becomes about you bragging at their expense and overshadowing their wins because you are so busy bragging.
Say "please" and "thank you". Little things go a long way. Showing respect to each other is very important.
Confide in them as if you were talking to yourself, they are as close to you as anyone will ever be.
Keep up appearances - your physical looks. You need to be more than emotionally attracted to each other even after 10 years and kids.
Don't ever ask yourself if this is all there is. The answer will be no, and that curiosity will kill you.
Explore the world together. You will be expanding your horizons, and it is the best way to get to know someone on a level you cannot reach though talking or staying in your "comfort zone".
When you're in disagreement about something, don't aim for the solution to be about who is right. Try to determine what is best for both of you. It can be difficult, especially in the heat of an argument, but putting your own ego aside to actually solve the problem yields more positive outcomes. Make an effort to understand your SO, where they're coming from and why they would be feeling/acting the way they are.
LISTEN. If you are having the same fight with your SO over and over, try hearing what they are mad about. Life can cause you guys to drift into your own worlds. Really HEARING what your SO is upset about helps to snap you back to reality, a two person world. Your bad day at work/stress about the kids/worry about money may cause you to hurt the person that should be your teammate. Don't take things out on them, use them for support. They SHOULD want you to succeed as much as you do.
Take interest in his/her hobbies, even if you don't like them at all.
Unplug regularly. In a time where everything is busy and phones are always buzzing and the TV is always on, it's easy to tune out your spouse. Is that show more important than your marriage? Then turn it off and spend some time showing your SO that you really love them.
Learn how to plan efficiently, and thoroughly.
Forgive easily but let your boundaries be known.
Make sure they know who you are (and vice-versa) before you make a big commitment.
Hear what the other person is trying to tell you, not necessarily what they are saying.
Don't listen to the rule of "never go to bed angry". You'll just wind up even more cranky and tired. Things tend to look better in the morning.
Do stuff together when possible but also do what you enjoy. Being married doesn't mean you are Siamese twins.
Agree on the big subjects (kids/religion/work/location/etc) and just roll with the rest.
Don't take your own shit out on the ones you love, ever. They may not be perfect but they are on your side.
Honor your word. Don't be that person or that couple that says you will do something and then bails last minute. No one likes people who do that. If you didn't want to do it, then you should have kept your mouth shut in the first place. Furthermore, don't complain about having to do something you said you would do.
Also, thank them for everything they do, no matter how small or insignificant it seems. Even if they are expected to do something, thank them for it. Always make sure that they feel appreciated and that their efforts are noticed.
Make their happiness more important than your own.
Find someone who not only improves you, and makes you happy, but someone who you want to do that for. We spend every day working to make the other happy. Making the other happy makes us happy, but thats still secondary. Devote yourself to making them happy.
Make sure you know how to "fight" with that person.
Love your partners flaws.
If at the end of the day you can honestly say that while you might like everything about your spouse, you love them regardless.
Pick your battles. Know when something is worth fighting over, and when to just go with the flow (more often than not, it isn't worth a fight).
Understand that the relationship needs both of you. If the other is unwilling to participate in "us", you can't do it alone so walk away. You aren't breaking the relationship because it's already been done. You are just making it official.
Remember that marriage is never 50/50, but almost always some form of 90/10.
Don't lose your individuality and be the best version of yourself you can be. If they dont like you for you its not gonna work, but who cares, your awesome! You can't change or fix them so don't try.