Marriage can be blissfully happy and be the most enjoyable experience of someone’s life. Yet this joy does not come without a price, and often couples are faced with challenges that are wholly unique to the bonds of matrimony. While there is no perfect recipe for how to make your marriage successful and long-lasting, there are a few ways to nurture growth, respect, and continued love in a relationship.

Listen to one another.

Listening is easier said than done. Be sure you are not just hearing your partner, but that you are actively listening to what he or she has to say. How do you know if you are listening intently? Check to see if you can summarize what your spouse has been saying to you – if you can, then you are likely listening with intention. If you cannot, then pay attention!

Spend time together every day.

Take the time each day not only to spend quality time with one another, but to also leave time for talking about your relationship. Some of the longest lasting marriages have been between couples who chose to actively engage in talking with one another. Ask your spouse what parts of the relationship were blossoming that day; also ask what parts you can help make run more smoothly. This openness with one another will allow time spent together to be more fulfilling.

Share the responsibilities.

Everyone gets bored with the same tasks day in and day out. While there will likely be household responsibilities that you each will prefer, take the time to share in those tasks that are not pleasurable for either of you. By doing things for your partner that are not necessarily enjoyable, you may find your partner show more affection and a greater willingness to share in those tasks.

Do not spend time fretting about the little things.

Life is too short to spend time arguing about all of the little things. Be respectful of the wishes of one another, but do not worry or think too much on the small things. Your partner will likely have annoying habits or irritating behaviors. But try not to let these little things get in the way of your happiness. It is important to recognize and avoid doing things consistently that your partner has already expressed is bothersome; at the same time, don’t worry too much about that.

Make plans together.

Taking a trip or going on a special date can help keep the fire lit between you and your spouse. Unless it is for a surprise, be sure to include your significant other in the planning process. You may not want to do all of the things your spouse wants to do, and vice versa. But it is important to compromise and take part in one another’s enjoyable activities; you may find that you actually enjoy that activity and can add it to a list of things to do together regularly! Be adventurous!

Fight fairly.

It is difficult to master, but fighting fairly is essential to overcoming disagreement in relationships. Do not blame or accuse your partner of wrongdoing. Be assertive about how the other person’s actions has made you feel but remember to take responsibility for those feelings. State clearly what you want, need, or expect from your spouse; do not leave anything to assumption or guessing. Use positive phrases and try to keep from raising your voice or yelling.

Speak life.

Speak positive words into your spouse’s life. Just as positive self-talk can boost a person’s self-esteem, being positive, encouraging, and validating to your spouse can increase the connection in your relationship. It can provide each of you with a sense of security in the relationship and allow you to grow closer together. Speaking words of life can breathe vitality into your relationship!

Love one another deeply.

Never underestimate the value of simply loving. Use the language of love that your spouse prefers in order to show how much you love them. These languages can include the giving of gifts, speaking encouraging words, showing affection through physical touch, spending good, quality time together, or doing practical things to make life a bit easier. Embrace often; kiss passionately and with intention. Do not go to sleep at night angry; reconcile even if there are still things to work out in the morning. Spend every moment together remembering why you chose this person to be the one with whom you would spend the rest of your life.