1. Keep marriage realistic. Honeymoons may recur, but marriage is a day-by-day relationship between changing humans. Sacrifices and heartache are challenges you must expect.
2. Don’t be afraid to say something nice. Compliment one another on appearance, considerations and so on.
3. Show affection. Hold hands, touch, kiss – even in public.
4. Don’t let the children divide you. Keep your shared responsibility to the children separate from your responsibility, and loyalty, to your mate.
5. Don’t let in-laws make inroads. Good relations with relatives are an advantage, but don’t let them influence you against your spouse. Talk about the problems that in-laws create – and solutions to those problems.
6. Grow together intellectually. It won’t work 20 years later if one partner has progressed while the other has slipped backward. Openly discuss shared goals and the intellectual expectations of one another.
7. Fight when necessary, then forget. Bring things that disturb into the open – even if it means conflict. Seek solutions. Ultimately, there are no winners or losers. Compromise as much as possible, and then downplay the conflict. The next, far better state, is making up.
8. Don’t confuse honesty and cruelty. Honesty that has no purpose except to hurt the other is a false virtue. Protect your mate’s feelings.
9. Be forthright financially. Set realistic expectations about money and its problems. Work toward shared financial goals.
10. Don’t let careers diminish the marriage. Overachievers can let careers shut out the spouse. Ironically, bad marriages often diminish the career. Together work out the right balance. Point: It’s easier to get a decent job than a good spouse.
11. Do things together. Couples that work and play together, also stay together. (Allow your spouse enough independence, too.)
12. Cooperate sexually. Everyone is vulnerable sexually. Talk, explore, experiment. Communicate with one another and protect one another’s feelings.
13. Keep talking – even when it’s tough. Barriers of silence and non-meaningful communication only grow and become more impenetrable. The more difficult it seems, the more important it is to keep communicating – especially about communicating.
14. Don’t get self-righteous. Each of us has flaws and inhibitions. A good marriage takes these into consideration. Overlook the petty irritants. If your spouse forgets to screw on the toothpaste cap, just do it yourself, and forget it.
15. Keep positive. Keep the relationship upbeat. Turn problems into opportunities for greater understanding, and work toward creative solutions and projects.