Marriage is a life-long commitment, and while being married can be wonderful, a marriage is also work. After years and years together, your relationship with your spouse can change, but finding ways to stay in love also makes long-term marriages amazing and extra-special.
It might not always be easy to like our spouse, but we can always love them more deeply. Something I have learned is that if you think you need more love, start by giving your spouse more love and watch as love pours through your relationship.
Of course, this does take time, after all, 50 years together doesn’t happen overnight.
1. Improve your communication.
Good communication skills are the key to any successful marriage. Being able to communicate means being able to resolve conflicts not win arguments. If you haven’t yet perfected your communication strategies with your spouse, don’t worry – there are plenty of strategies you can use.
Try the following strategies to improve your communication:
- Set aside a half an hour to talk each day. Turn off your TV, phones, and other devices during this time, and focus on each other.
- Be specific about issues. Rather than saying “You’re frustrating me,” get specific with a statement like “The fact that you missed our last two date nights is frustrating me.”
- Stay personal. Use more “I” statements than “you” statements, so your spouse doesn’t feel like you’re attacking them.
- Be sure to communicate your positive feelings, too. It’s easy to get hung up on the negatives, but it’s just as important to express your positive feelings to your spouse, too.
Remember that every thought doesn’t need to be said, it’s better to ask yourself if what your about to say is going to help or hurt your relationship.
When approaching delicate subjects, it’s important to have an end goal in mind. If connecting more is the goal, keep that in mind as you speak with your spouse.
2. Find new shared interests.
As you and your spouse grow and age, your interests will change, too. You’ll probably develop new passions and hobbies, and these may or may not be activities that you can both enjoy.
When you initially met your spouse, you probably had some shared interests that gave you some common ground. Make an effort to find new activities or pastimes that you both enjoy and can take part in. Checking out different parks, restaurants, or bakeries can be a fun way to get out and spend time together.
3. Remember why you fell in love.
After 50 years of marriage, it’s easy to start to take your spouse for granted. This is why it’s so important to remember why you fell in love in the first place. Look through old photo albums, talk about memorable dates with your spouse, and tell your spouse about their qualities that you most like.
Writing love notes is a classic way to express love to your partner. Go beyond saying “I love you” and use character quality language like “I love how caring (or thoughtful, or enthusiastic, etc.) you are”. In the age of virtual communication couples could benefit from giving and receiving a handwritten note. Plus, then you will have more memorabilia to remind you of how you fell in love and why you’re still in love.
4. Honor your spouse’s feelings and thoughts.
It’s common for couples to honor each other’s feelings and thoughts in the beginning of a relationship, but after 50 years, you may need to put more of a concentrated effort into listening to your spouse and honoring them.
Even if you’re preoccupied with other things, it’s important to honor your spouse when they want to connect, express their feelings, or talk about frustrations with an aspect of your relationship.
This goes both ways; if your spouse needs time to think about what they want to say or how they are feeling, then you want to honor that request. It’s important to listen to each other and respect one another’s wishes and needs.
5. Make your own special occasions.
When you’ve known and lived with someone for 50 years, you may find that some of the spark and excitement has left your marriage. You can restore that, though, by making your own special occasions.
Even dinner at home can be a special occasion; you can set the table with matching dishware, a flower vase and soft lighting for an intimate evening together. This will also make for a calm evening and invite conversation.
6. Look to the future.
Marriage is hard work, and you will inevitably encounter rough patches, but staying in love after 50 years of marriage is absolutely possible.
When you and your spouse are dedicated to making your marriage work, you can get through those rough patches, continue to develop your relationship, and enjoy a close, strong, and wonderful relationship.