There is a difference between getting married and building a happy, long-lasting marriage. One requires meeting the right person and going through certain steps to make the relationship legal and binding. The other requires some investing to make marriage work.
Here are 9 investments you need to make in your marriage:
Protect your investment
You protect your money by putting it safely in a bank or safe. You protect your children by keeping tabs on their friends and whereabouts. You protect the safety of your family by maintaining a home with locks on every door and maybe a security system.
But what about your marriage? Do you put similar safeguards in place to protect it from being hurt, damaged or even destroyed?
Marriage is an investment that requires not only time and money but your heart, mind and soul. Take the proper steps to protect your marriage, just as you would anything else - if not more so.
Invest in yourself
One of the first rules of managing finances is to pay yourself first. The same rule goes for marriage.
When you neglect yourself, you can lose your identity, which can also lead to resentment and self-hatred. But when you address your own needs, you can find balance and happiness and be able to give with a full heart.
While taking care of yourself is a key investment in a healthy marriage, the same is true for taking care of your spouse's needs.
Best-selling author Joshua Becker wrote, "A selfish person is committed only to himself or herself, shows little patience, and never learns how to be a successful spouse. Give your hopes, dreams, and life to your partner."
Maintain daily interest
Marriage has its peaks and valleys, its good times and bad ones. But it can also have plateaus. Often, it is during the seemingly smooth ride of a relationship that things start to take a dive.
Keep life together interesting every day, whether by trying a new meal, joining a fitness class, watching a new movie, or simply changing up the conversation a bit, by not talking about kids and finances all the time. In doing so, you can turn that boring, smooth road into an exciting, and less traveled, one.
Make physical intimacy a priority
The physical act of sex is a sensitive topic, with both partners having very different viewpoints on it. While men have sex to feel close, women need to feel close to have sex, according to Melissa Lambson, founder of New Leaf Counseling. "If you fix the sexual relationship, a lot of other things start to fall into place."
But sexual intimacy isn't the only physical contact needed in a marriage. "When you bring up something negative with your spouse, if you touch, it reduces the level of tension," Lambson said.
Physical contact alone, whether it is holding hands, rubbing your spouse's shoulders or simply placing a hand on your husband's knee, releases the bonding hormone oxytocin in the brain.
Have an attitude of forgiveness
Marriage relationships are not perfect, mainly because a marriage is composed of two imperfect people.
As much as he was your Prince Charming on the day you recited your vows, you must remember that even Prince Charming has flaws - flaws that can be overlooked and/or forgiven. Know that no matter how significant the pain may be, it is always possible to forgive. By keeping an attitude of forgiveness, you can build a stronger marital bond than you ever thought possible.
Time invariably passes, but it is how you spend that time that counts.
Take time to go on regular dates with your spouse. Leave the children with your parents for a weekend, find a babysitter for a few hours, or stay up late and watch a movie, then sit out on the porch and talk while the kids sleep.
Making that regular connection with your spouse is not only important, but it is vital. Taking this time can help in maintaining intimacy and improving communication, and it is even healthy for children to see their mom and dad spending time together.
Don't think you can do it alone
Every marriage has its struggles, with some challenges being more difficult to manage than others. Enlisting the help of a professional, by way of a marriage counselor, could very well mean the difference between a happy marriage and an unhappy or discontinued marriage.
According to research conducted by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, 93 percent of people who worked with a marriage or family therapist said they had more effective tools for dealing with their problems.
Invest more than the required amount
It is possible to get through a marriage doing the minimum required, but it is doing the extra things that not only lets your spouse know of your love, but that keeps things exciting, meaningful and long-lasting.
Minky Couture makes blankets that are built to last. And while they are more expensive than traditional fleece blankets, they provide warmth and comfort and show love in a way that other fleece blankets never will.
The things that are worth the most in life cost a little more, but they're definitely worth the investment.