Weddings can be wonderful opportunities to celebrate your love with family and friends. The real work begins, though, after the party ends.
Building a strong marriage requires conscious effort that isn’t always easy to put in, but it’s safe to say that the resulting happiness is worth a bit of toil.
Rachel Sussman, a therapist in New York City who specializes in relationships and couples counseling, shared five ways you can make your marriage stronger.
1. Perform small acts of kindness
Buy their favorite dessert on your way home, memorize their coffee order, or pick up the dry cleaning. A little bit goes a long way.
“It’s really those little things that make you feel like ‘Wow, this person really cares about me, this person has my back,'” said Sussman.
2. Be your best self
Sussman said that many people take their partners for granted, which can lead to hurt feelings.
“I’m really big on telling couples that you’re very lucky, that you found this person that you love and that you have to cherish them,” she said. “Just like a job that you love — if you don’t want to get fired, you have to go to work every single day and be your best possible self.”
3. Check in when you’re going out
Having your own friends and activities is important, but you don’t have to shut your partner out completely.
“A lot of the complaints I hear from people is that when their partner goes out with their friends they disappear,” she said. “It’s not like you’ve got to be texting them every second, but it’s okay to say ‘I miss you’ or ‘Hope you’re having a great night, should be home by midnight.’
4. Disagree respectfully
Arguments happen. The key is to argue while respecting your partner’s point of view.
“Couples can certainly have a different opinion in something — you have to just be respectful,” she said. “Like, ‘Wow, I never really thought of it like that before,’ or ‘That’s an interesting perspective, it’s not necessarily my perspective, but … I’ll think about it, and I’d like you to think about my perspective too.'”
5. Seek help during rough patches
If you can’t work things out and it’s taking a toll on your relationship, getting a neutral third party involved can help resolve recurring issues.
“The problem with a rough patch is unless you work on it, it just gets rougher and rougher,” said Sussman. “If you feel like you’re in a rough patch, things aren’t going well, go have a couple of sessions with a counselor. The counselor might help you flesh out what’s going on and put you to a better path.”