Honesty is always the best policy! Be open. Tell the truth. Be kind! Being honest doesn't mean being blunt or unkind in our words. Honesty only works in the right tone. You can't come at one another with backhanded words or tones. Tell the other how you feel, what you like, and likewise what you don't. Nothing can get fixed if you don't know it's broken! (Which totally leads me to the next point...)
Communication is key!! If you don't talk you don't grow. When a couple goes to therapy, with no major issues, the first thing the therapists wants you to work on is communication. So many marital issues can be solved with the basic knowledge of how to hold a discussion. A discussion is not an argument. Communicating isn't just talking (or yelling), there must be listening ears. Open, honest (see, there it is again) communication requires talking and listening.
Do those things for one another! Ever read "The 5 Love Languages"? (if you haven't..do!!!) This is where it comes in. He likes to watch football, join in (and you don't have to every single time..just a few and he will know you are trying). She wants to go to a play, take her (sometimes, and sometimes suggest she go with a friend..something she enjoys, a person she cares for, and "her time"..triple win for you)! You're at the store and see a cute giraffe that could join her collection, or you see an awesome deal on a climbing rope you know he needs a new one of, buy it! He needs an hour of alone time with you, you need hugs and kisses, give it to them! Not only should we do things for one another, but say the right things! Tell him you appreciate his hard work each day. Let her know you realize she's at home working just as hard and her job isn't meaningless or less than yours. A little note on his steering wheel, a heart on her mirror. There are so many little things. Do them!
Manners never hurt anyone! Very shortly after we were married my dad said, "always say please, thank you, and I'm sorry! And remember, none is more important than the other!" It made me think..none is more important than the other? Yes! Saying, "please" and "thank you" is just as important as saying "I'm sorry" and none should be forgotten! Don't we teach (or won't we teach) our children to have proper manners? Why? Because it's good manners and good manners should be used more often. Then why not among a husband and wife?
Compromise..both of you! One person is not always right. If you and your friend disagree, do you argue about it? Or do you "agree to disagree" as the saying goes? Why argue about it with your spouse? Not everything, actually, very few things, needs to have a finality of who is right! When it comes to discipline, curfew, finances, etc. both of you talk (see..there's communication) and let your true thoughts and feelings come out (and there's the honesty)! Things don't have to be his way. Things don't have to be her way. Make it our way! Work together to come up with a solution that is okay for both of you!
Nobody is perfect! And when all else fails, because it's inevitable that it will happen, forgive! There's only been one perfect person on this Earth...and it's not your spouse! Remember that. Always! Yes, we need to try our best to love, appreciate, and enjoy our significant other. Always try. But there are times where we will fail. She will fail. He will fail. It happens. It's life. Remember that they aren't perfect. Forgive. Move on!
Laughter really is the best medicine! Don't forget to enjoy each other! Did you have inside jokes while you were dating? Did you enjoy silly things together (for instance, Cory and I used to wrestle, and when I would kick his butt I'd tease him about being weak)? Don't forget to do it still. Laugh. Laugh together. Laugh, comfortably, on your own at something you think is funny, even if they don't. They will smile at your laughing. It works all around! Don't let the stresses of work, school, kids, money, moving, house repairs or anything else get in the way of enjoying each other! One of my favorite quotes is from the LDS prophet Gordon B. Hinckley, "In all of living, have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured!"
And here's a bonus, just for the next year we're working on! Believe in your marriage and believe it's worth fighting for! Don't just give up. Again, nobody is perfect! Some things warrant an end to the marriage. Most don't! Your relationship is different than your neighbor's or your best friend's? GREAT! You are different. Your spouse is different. Your relationship will be! Be who you are, enjoy it, fight for it! Make the choice, each day, to fall in love again!
We are far from perfect, but had we each focused on these things in the past seven years, things could have gone a whole lot smoother! Now we know, and though we are still learning, may the next seven years be years of enjoyment and growth!
Have a happy day~Kasey