“If you don’t take the time to meet for lunch, go for a walk, or go out to dinner and a movie with some regularity, then you basically end up with a roommate. Staying connected through life’s ups and downs is critical. Eventually, your kids grow up, your obnoxious brother-in-law will join a monastery, and your parents will die. When that happens, guess who’s left? You got it . . . Mr./Mrs. Right! You don’t want to wake up 20 years later and be staring at a stranger because life broke the bonds you formed before the shitstorm started.”
Of the many responses I got, I’d say about half of them mentioned one simple but effective piece of advice: Don’t ever stop doing the little things. They add up.
Things as simple as saying “I love you” before going to bed; holding hands during a movie; doing small favors here and there; helping with some household chores. Even cleaning up when you accidentally pee on the toilet seat (seriously, someone said that) — these things all matter and add up over the long run.
The same way Fred, married for 40+ years, says that arguing over small things consistently wears you both down (“like Chinese water torture)”, so do the little favors and displays of affection add up. Don’t forget them.
This becomes particularly important once kids enter the picture. The big message I heard hundreds of times about kids was, put the marriage first.
“Children are worshipped in our culture. Parents are expected to sacrifice everything for them. But the best way to raise healthy and happy kids is to maintain a healthy and happy marriage. Good kids don’t make a good marriage. A good marriage makes good kids. So, keep your marriage the top priority.”
Readers were insistent about maintaining regular “date nights,” planning weekend getaways, and to making time for sex, even when you’re tired, even when you’re stressed and exhausted and the baby is crying, even when junior has soccer practice at 5:30AM the next day. Make time for it. It’s worth it.