Think back a minute to when you dated your spouse. Chances are you have a lot of fond memories from that time. After all, who doesn't love falling in love? Chances are also good that things have changed some since that time. As the honeymoon fades away and reality sets in, marriage becomes comfortable, and all too often, we become complacent.

Society purports a myth that we both fall into and out of love. Movies and books would have us believe that love is some magical, mystical vapor that descends at will and leaves just as quickly. However, wiser people know that love is a choice, a conscientious way of acting toward another person.

In the words of bestselling author and life coach Stephen R. Covey, "Love is a verb."

The way we act during dating and engagement is sometimes worlds away from how we act after years of marriage. We seem to forget the actions that made our relationship a success in the first place, or at the very least we get out of practice.

Looking backwards can help us know how to move forward. Renew your marriage with these five virtues that we used when dating and may have let lapse.

1. Gratitude

How often did you express appreciation for your boyfriend or girlfriend when dating? How often do you express appreciation for your husband? Our spouse needs to feel needed and he deserves to feel valued. Verbally thanking your spouse costs nothing, takes no preparation and can literally save your marriage. Sincerely and graciously compliment your spouse, and the tone in your home will change.

2. Consideration

When we were dating, we went of our way to meet the needs of our loved one. From nursing a sick boyfriend back to health or walking a girlfriend home in the pouring rain, there is little we wouldn't do to ensure the health and safety of the one we loved. The same standard should hold for marriage. Life is often inconvenient, but it is rarely the sole fault of your spouse. Be accommodating and let the little things slide from time to time.

3. Kind words. Soft answers

What kind of bad fiancée would yell and call his intended names? Easy, a fiancée who wouldn't end up married. Yet, after a few years of marriage, we can find ourselves saying things we never would have dreamed of saying before the wedding. To quote author and TV psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw, "Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy?" We could eliminate much of our marital strife by simply keeping quiet.

4. Collaboration

With 15 extra-curricular activities, a bushel of kids and a household to run, we can fall into the "I'll just do it myself" trap, which can leave one spouse feeling out in the cold. Remember the days when it was an adventure to go grocery shopping together? Working on household tasks together will bring you and your spouse closer together.

5. Prioritizing

If you do nothing else today, ask yourself this question: Where is my spouse on my list of priorities? You felt he was your whole world at one point. Has he been moved down the list, sandwiched between running errands and the laundry? Your marriage needs date night. You need to spend time together every, single day. The dirty dishes can wait - your marriage needs you now.

Marriage matters. It is a relationship worth all your time, attention and energy. Someday when the kids are gone, the house is clean, and you move at a slower pace, you will be glad you made an effort to feed your marriage all those years.

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