This Valentine’s Day I wanted to dive deeper than the box of chocolates. I asked some of my favorite couples, who have been married from a range of less than a year to 30-plus years, a few questions about marriage. Read these when you have a chance to soak them in … some really good words I will be trying to bring to fruition in my own life!
What is one way you work on keeping your marriage strong?
“Marriage is about choosing love whether or not you feel it. Feelings are temperamental, but the decision to choose love every day is ours. Own it. Choose your love and love your choice.” —Bridget Hunt
“One way I focus on keeping my marriage strong is by lending unconditional service — doing something sweet without expecting anything in return! It helps me forget about myself, and Brad always has the best reactions to these little acts of service. It is so fun and always strengthens our love for each other.”—Hailey Devine
“When life is especially crazy and things are quite a bit different than they were when we first started dating, we try to make sure to do two things to make our marriage a priority. We spend time together doing things we loved doing before we have kids, even if staying up late playing cards and having a drink is going to make us a little more tired in the morning, we will always be happier. And we go out of our way to do little things that make each other smile, like making sure his favorite shirt is dry cleaned or picking up my favorite snack on his way home from work. A little extra effort goes a long way!”—Jessica Garvin
“By exercising the principle of goodwill, we try to continually give each other the benefit of the doubt. We look at all decisions through the lens of ‘we only want what is best for God and each other, our marriage and our family.’ When we make mistakes, we gently encourage one another to see each other’s position and work to not repeat the offense.”—Maribel Carlisle
“Simon says, ‘Put your spouse before yourself, always.’ And I say, ‘Laugh! A lot!’”—Simon and Grace Patton
What are ways you focus on respect and gratitude in marriage?
“We like to leave spontaneous notes for each other in the car, mirror, or at lunch, encouraging and reminding each other how we are thankful. Also, refraining from preconceived judgments or being quick to forgive is something so difficult, but this could be what hardens the heart or puts a wall up. Giving the benefit of the doubt promotes a more loving marriage.”—Tricia Simpson
“We do not criticize each other in our thoughts. We understand the power of thoughts and how thoughts determine our verbal and non verbal actions. Sarcasm is never allowed in our relationship, and we keep that firm boundary! As a woman I have to be mindful of cultivating and protecting a positive and safe environment for our friendship, and I work on the habit of positive thoughts of my husband. This habit naturally creates a gratitude space that makes our relationship fun, satisfying and so full of life. Married life gets better with each day, and we are truly more in love now than we were on the day we got married!”—January Donovan
“It has taken me a while to learn that the way I say things and my tone of voice can greatly affect the way my words are perceived. It’s a way I try (often fail!) to show him greater respect and love because I know it is important for our marriage. We remind each other often that to really love a person is to will the good of the other.”—Maria Niewald
“‘Thank you for choosing me.’ We often spontaneously use this line, communicating how grateful or undeserving we feel to be given such a genuine love. We’ve quickly learned that it is a choice that comes with each new sunrise in marriage, and it’s the deep confidence found in the other’s daily commitment that has moved mountains internally in our first year as newlyweds. ‘Thank you for choosing me …’ They are words we’ll whisper in each other’s ear well into old age; I’m certain of it.”—Angela Hoyer
“I choose to look for the way my husband shows his love for me or our children. At some point in the day I thank him for those specific acts of love either by talking to him, writing a note or sending an e-mail. I think it is important to frequently remind him he is a good husband or father.”—Jessica Zuniga
This article originally appeared at the blog In Honor of Design and is reprinted here with kind permission.
Anna Zuniga is the lifestyle blogger behind In Honor of Design. She is a mother of 4 currently residing in Atlanta, GA.