So, for those of you who have been married over 10 years, what are your "secrets" for staying connected to your spouse? What's working for you? What isn't?
Knowing that life has its valleys and mountaintops. Cherish the good moments, and have a sense of humor during the not-so-good moments.
He deals with his family and I deal with mine, and we don't butt in if we can help it. But every now and again, things have to be said, so we say them and get it out of the way.
He has his things that annoy me but HEY, am I PERFECT??? Realizing that and letting him be him, warts and all, has been probably the most important success factor.
For us, by not having children, we can stay connected easily by going out together, spending time together. That really is no big mind-breaking concept, but I've seen how easily couples who have children drift apart because they spend no time with just them. We also allow plenty of time from each other. Of course, working in different places mandates that we have time apart, but each person also needs time alone. You can't connect with someone if you do not know who you are. We each have groups of friends that we hang out with, sometimes as a couple and sometimes singly. I think it is good for a relationship to be built on 2 individuals, rather than on a family unit or couple unit. When you start to lose yourself in the couple or in the family, you are heading for trouble.
I don't mean to say all people with children are doomed to not be connected to each other. You just have to work harder at it than childless couples- getting babysitters, etc.
Spend time together doing things you both enjoy like you did when you dated. I agree with Meghane that it is very easy to get busy with family and forget the two of you. Someday those kids will be gone.
Sit next to each other on the sofa and hold hands. Take a walk doing the same.
Accept the things you can't change or you'll go nuts!
Talk about the "tough" things when necessary like Trekaren said. Allow a lot of grace.
Remember that relationships change, and go through phases. We made a commitment the day we married, and divorce was never an option for either of us. There have been, and still are the very best of times, but there have also been tough times when quitting would have been easier. It made us stronger instead of breaking us.
Having a sense of humor will get you through tough times. Laughter is good medicine.
Live within your means so you don't have the stress and have to work so much you don't have time for yourselves. The "stuff" really doesn't make for happiness.
We're going on ten years this summer, so I don't know if I qualify to answer, but I'll do it anyway. :)
One, make sure you cultivate at least one major interest that you can share and participate in frequently. Besides raising the kids, that is.
Two, cultivate friendships with people in similar situations, and share friendships with those who aren't. What I mean is, it's wonderful for us to spend time with other couples with kids similar in age to ours, because we're dealing with the same issues, our kids can play together, and we encourage each other. DH has single guy friends too, but I consider them just as much my friends as his. So their issues are mine too and it's never them vs. me.
Three, don't fall into the trap of believing that sex "isn't that important." Of course it is. Sex is never just a physical thing, after all. It's tied up with ego, self-esteem, emotional intimacy, and is a great indicator of how things are going otherwise.
Four, don't get caught up in dramatics. Always think of the outcome before the process. If you're angry, think first of the result you want before reacting.
Five, and perhaps the most important - remember that your spouse is not psychic, and that he/she may forget things. If you want jewelry for your birthday, tell him. If you want him to put the kids to bed when you're tired, tell him. Don't expect him to "just know" that you wanted jewelry because you saw an ad and said "that's pretty", and don't expect him to "just know" you're too tired to tackle bedtime and be generous enough to volunteer. Don't be resentful when he doesn't pick up your cues. Yes, he may be ignoring them on purpose, but so what? Make demands.
Six: Pick your battles. Sure, it may bother you to no end that he won't put his underwear in the laundry hamper twelve inches away from where he drops them, but is it really that important in the long run?
Hm...that's a good question ;-)
Going on 31 years in August. We have always remained physically affectionate to each other and have had great respect for each other. There have been a few time spans when we didn't communicate with each other as we should have. During the raising of the children years, it is easy for that to happen if you don't work at it. You have to make time for just the two of you and plan special get a ways if you can. I would say that the the the three main things to remember is respect, affection and communication.
As far as I am concerned, there is one very easy way ......Treat each other exactly as you did when you were dating..that includes everying...touching each other, holding each other, talking to each other, flirting with each other, complimenting each other....holding hands ..doing for each other.......People work so hard at "catching" someone and once they are hooked...anything goes....
Someone recently asked me if my husband and I were newly weds....I consider that a compliment..
If I hadn't married a man with a sense of humor we'd never have made it the 11 years we have!:) 14 all together adding in dating, 2 boys, anniversary this Friday! It's important to laugh together!!!!!!!!
We've been married 28 years -- and still going strong! Laughter is a key, but I believe each partner must continually earn the other's respect. One must always "like" their partner for there to be "love."
We continue to say "please" and "thank you" to each other every day. Never taking each other for granted.
33.5 years I agree with all the tips given so far.
I wanted to add - try to speak to each other in the same tone of voice as you would with a stranger.
And remember to truly forgive when necessary.
Yep, the sense of humor it of utmost importance. Since we work together, we can't really grow apart and I think that has always been a plus. We have been married for 16 years now and are both on our second marriages. We were both divorced for many years before marrying each other, so we really did know what we wanted.
We enjoy each other's company and never run out of conversation.