Now I don't claim to be a know it all marriage expert, but I can say this; I am still so much in love with my husband that I count down the minutes until he comes home every day. Are there hard times in our marriage? You bet. But every night I can look over at this man I married 11 years ago and not have one regret about it. I know that these don't apply to every marriage and relationship, but here are 11 things I've learned in the past 11 years:

1. Live for each other

This is something we discussed when we were dating. You always hear people say they would die for someone, or something they believe in. That's all well and good, but I think most of us would not hesitate to put our own lives in danger if it meant saving our children or spouse. The real test of love is to live for your spouse. Living for someone is not a one time decision, but a choice we make every minute of every day.

2. Communicate your needs

No one is a mind reader " except mind readers, but I'm willing to bet your spouse is not one. I am so guilty of forgetting this fact about my husband. I can be needing romance, or a break from the kids, or some help with the laundry and if he doesn't give me what I need right when I need it, I start to get upset. I have to constantly remind myself that he is not a mind reader. When I tell him what I need, he is almost always willing to do exactly that. I have gotten a lot better over the years, and he has learned to do the same. This definitely has helped our marriage. Next time you are feeling frustrated with your spouse, try telling them what you need in a non-confrontational way and see what happens.

3. Say "no" more than "yes."

This is another one that I have come along way on. I used to say "yes" to everyone asking for my help or attention. When you are married, you need to put your spouse first. If your plate is too full with things that are taking you away from time with your spouse, then it is time to say "no" more often. Once you clear things off your to do list, and make your time together the most important thing, it will really bring you together.

4. Say "yes" more than "no."

I'm pretty sure I'm not alone here, but I want "it" much less than my husband. One thing I've learned in the past 11 years is if you say "yes" more than "no," both of you will be happier in your marriage. We are closer, nicer and more helpful in other ways when I don't turn him down all the time. Think about how you would feel if you were looking for love from your husband and he turned you down "¦ I know it's not a real likely scenario if your husband is anything like mine, but how would that make you feel? I'm pretty sure you wouldn't be glowing with confidence and feeling super happy with your marriage if you were constantly being denied what you wanted. Say "yes" more than "no," or better yet, don't say "no." I know how hard that can be sometimes, but try it, your husband can thank me later!

5. Let him be a gentleman

I know we are all strong, independent women who can do it all, but most men like to feel needed. Let him open your door, give you his jacket, pull out your chair. It will make you feel loved and him feel needed, and that is a win win.

6. Be a lady for him

Putting a little effort into making ourselves pretty for our spouse goes a long way. Hopefully your husband will love you with or without lipstick, but he will still appreciate the effort to make yourself look good for him. If I am thinking about him when I get dressed, I know he will compliment me, which boosts my confidence and it is all a happy little circle. Never stop trying to impress (while being yourself of course) your spouse.

7. Kiss every morning and night "¦ and lots in between

My husband is great at this. Every morning before he leaves for work no matter how early, he comes and kisses me goodbye. When he gets home the first thing he does is kisses me hello. He doesn't care who is around or how many kids are begging for his attention, he always shares his affection with lots of kisses. Every night before bed he kisses me goodnight. Lots of kissing keeps a marriage happy.

8. Hold hands when you are together

When we are in the car we hold hands. When we walk from the car into the store we hold hands. When we are sitting on the couch watching TV we are holding hands. Unless we need our hands for something else, we are holding hands.

9. Play

Chad and I play constantly. Whether it's flirting through text messages, playing Phase 10 at the kitchen table, wrestling with each other and the kids or singing at the top of our lungs in the car, we are always playing. It keeps us smiling, laughing and happy.

10. Rely on one another more than anyone else

When problems do arise, it is tempting to call my sister or text a friend about how annoyed I am. I think one of the most important things we can do in our marriage is rely on each other more than outside sources. When we have an argument, we try to settle it "in house." The problem, no matter how small, will escalate and become much worse when it has someone else to help feed it. Telling others about your problems is the easiest way to make a mountain out of a mole hole.

When I do have a problem, rather than venting to someone else, I make a pros and cons list of sorts. I list all of the things Chad does right, and then once I get to the things he does wrong, nothing seems bad enough to put on that list. Instead of continuing to be mad, I just love him more because I have made a list of all the things I love about him.

11. Say "I love you" every chance you can, in every way you can

We make my mom gag all the time at how many times we say "I love you" each day. It's amazing how those three words cannot be overused in a marriage. You can say the actual words or use actions to show your love. Chad gets me little things from time to time and calls them "happy day presents" but it's him telling me that he loves me. A wink, a kiss, a hug, a silly nickname are all other ways that we say I love you during the course of the day. The little things mean just as much, if not more than the big things to show love. When you feel love, you should say it, and say it often.

Editor's note: This article was originally published on Tiffany Hewlett's blog, Making the World Cuter. It has been republished here with permission.

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