The honeymoon period in most marriages has a shelf life but that doesn’t mean that couples can’t bring back those fluttery feelings of excitement and adventure they experienced at the beginning of their relationships.
It is true that all marriages maneuver through some rough patches. From tolerating one another’s weaknesses to third party interferences, and some marriages don’t survive long enough to come out at the other side unscathed, but others do.
These men and women shared with Heart Congress how they kept romance alive in their marriages for years.
Stephen: I thank my wife for little things
I learnt early from my father that you don’t take your wife for granted. I don’t see myself as my wife’s superior. She’s my wife, my partner and my cheerleader in life. So, I treat her with respect. I don’t take her efforts in taking care of the home and our children for granted. I love and respect her views and decisions as she does for me.
I also say thank you for little things. You can’t imagine the look on her face whenever I say thank you after eating, or after getting a glass of water from her. I thank her for taking care of our children. I thank her for sticking by me even when I am unlovable. This is my secret to the lasting marriage we have. We have been married for 18 years now.
Nneka: I maintain intimacy both inside and outside our bedroom
Intimacy isn’t just sex and passion isn’t just doing it in the sitting room as opposed to the bedroom. Bedroom habits age along with the marriage.
Nobody defines the normal or healthy amount of sex for my marriage. I have sex with my husband in different places to keep the flame burning.
I know that things change, but that doesn’t make my marriage less exciting or lacking fun. I believe that intimacy comes in many ways, including through conversations, hugging and cuddling.
Rosemary: Kindness is my watchword
We tend to take advantage of those we love the most probably because we know they love us and we can get away with it.
You have a bad day at the office and come home and take it out on your spouse. Someone offends you on the road, you stomach it and then unleash your pent up anger on your spouse. It’s unfair.
My healthy life pattern is to start out each day by deciding what to do to make my partner happy. It makes more sense that I put my best face on for someone I love everyday regardless of the challenges I am facing out there.
I have made my marriage last by practicing kindness to my spouse especially when I don’t feel like it. I treat him better than I treat my friends. I respect him as the head of our home and make our home comfortable for him too.
Omoteniola: I show him how much I appreciate him
Over the course of my 12-year marriage, there were times I felt my husband and I were starting to become so familiar with each other that we were settling into a familiar, comfortable routine.
But there’s a real danger in that because being so familiar with your spouse that you begin to take them for granted is dangerous for any marriage. Emotional dissatisfaction can make couples bored and cheat.
When men don’t feel connected or appreciated by their wives, they are vulnerable to the advances of any attractive woman who casts a lustful glance their way. It is the same for women as well.
I keep my marriage intact by showing my husband how much I appreciate him and the efforts he puts into making our children and I comfortable.
Chinwe: My spouse and I practice honesty
I have learned to talk to my spouse if I am not connecting with him. I once let communication issues fester for months, failing to verbalize my displeasure, and my husband and I continued to fight.
It took a third party and a real investment on our part to get us back on track. If we didn’t come clean with each other and told each other what we were feeling, we might have separated today.
By the end of this year, we would have been married for 13 years and it is not easy to sleep and wake up with the same person year in, year out. It takes real work on the part of the couple and we tend to take that for granted thinking things will work out themselves.
Temitope: I make sure to take care of my appearance
With many years of marriage that produced four children, it was easy to let my appearance slide. I told myself that my husband needs to always come home to the woman he courted and married.
I take care of my body, my appearance and dressing. You can call me a hot mom of four children. I’m not saying you have to look like a famous actress all the time, but you need to stay in shape so that you won’t lose appeal in your husband’s eyes.
Sometimes my husband will say “wow, you look nice” as I’m walking out the door for a girls’ night out. That makes me feel good and determined not to let myself go out of shape.
Jane: I foster healthy relationships outside my marriage
I have been going on girls’ outings and trips for as long as I have been married. Yes, I love my spouse and my three children but I maintain close relationships with my girlfriends. It keeps me sane on difficult days and periods in my marriage.
These weekends away with friends are also important. Swapping stories with others and enjoying new experiences make me a more interesting person for my husband to be around.
Spending some time apart as a couple has helped my marriage survive for 14 years. It gets romantic because even the conversations on the phone get more romantic while I am away. He misses me and I miss him also.
Couples need some distance in their marriage once in a while. While my marriage is my primary relationship, it isn’t the only one I enjoy in life.
Patrick: I watch my words whenever we argue
I have discovered that there are many things I should never say to my spouse. It’s also never a good idea to start a sentence with: “You know it’s always been your problem that…” Who wants to hear that from their spouse? ‘You always’ or ‘you never’ should be far from your arguments.
If you start a sentence with these words while arguing with your wife, she is certain to shut down or start a big fight. Stop for a minute and think about what you really mean to say and then say that instead. Women are very sensitive and deserve to be treated with love, patience and compassion.
Godwin: I let things slide to avoid petty fights
Sometimes the best way to address a problem is to just walk away from it and let it go. In my opinion as a man who has been married for over 10 years now, it is not every slight that you must address.
I let things slide to avoid petty fights. I know that not every insult is intended. I practice letting go as much as I can. I forgive my wife more. I forget her mistakes and shortcomings more.
And once in a while when I begin to resent her weaknesses, I remind myself why I married her in the first place. I focus on those reasons and let stuff pass without mention.