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7 essential rules to a long-lasting marriage
A successful marriage is an accumulation of the simple things. But you have to do the simple things each and every day of your life together to make it work. - photo by Becky Squire
What is the key to a successful marriage? Here's the secret: there are no secrets! However, there are some rules; rules that couples are ignorantly unaware of, or intentionally ignore. But when paid attention to, these rules result in long-lasting and happy marriages.

Your spouse is not your roommate.

I think every couple goes through "the roommate phase" every once in a while during their marriage. When this happens, the key is to intentionally notice the lack of spark...and light it again. It's easy to let life get in the way of your romance. When that happens, put life to the side for a moment, and show your spouse why you're more than just roommates.

Marriage is not 50/50.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Marriage is not give and take. It's give and give, on BOTH sides. If you only give half of what you expect in a marriage, you will come up short-handed every time. Wives, you should be giving all you have to your husband. And husbands, you need to give all you have to your wife. Together you are one. Give everything and expect nothing.

Mistakes are ok.

Despite what you may read in fairy tales or see on Facebook, no marriage is perfect. Your spouse will inevitably make mistakes, and so will you. The key is to own up to those mistakes and try your best not to make them again. Patience, understanding, and forgiveness are fundamental to having a great marriage.

Learn to speak your spouse's love language.

Know what the five love languages are. Even if you have read the book and know what love language your spouse speaks, it's easy to forget and automatically go back to speaking your own. My love language is quality time. So for me, it feels natural to show my husband I love him by just spending time with him. But he doesn't feel loved that way. I need to make a conscious effort to speak HIS love language, especially when it's completely different than my own.

Marriage is not about you.

If you are constantly asking yourself, "What's in this for me?" you've got marriage all wrong. Men and women have needs that are almost completely different, yet both sides are crucial for a happy marriage. Perhaps your spouse isn't fulfilling your needs. Instead of dwelling on their lack of effort, focus on how you can better fulfill their needs. They will be more likely to be mindful of yours.

Sex is not a bargaining tool.

Whether they realize it or not, some couples will say to each other, "You get sex when I get what I want." Slowly but surely, that will destroy your marriage every time. Sex should be a priority and valued highly as a couple. When you treat it as such, your relationship will surely be strengthened.

True love isn't just about romance.

I'll never forget the butterflies in my stomach or the fast-paced beat of my heart when I was dating my husband. Luckily, I still feel those things many years later. But the longer I have been married, the more I learn about what love actually means. Love isn't about those feelings. It's about commitment. It's about service. It's about hard work. Love is about believing the best in each other and doubting the rest.

Happily married or not, every couple can benefit from following these marriage rules. A successful marriage is an accumulation of the simple things. But you have to do the simple things each and every day of your life together to make it work.
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