Maintaining a marriage can be difficult regardless of how madly in love you were when you said your “I dos.” Over the years, both partners change certain aspects about themselves, whether it be their careers, their religious beliefs, their hobbies, etc.

Most couples know that marriage requires work, and that communication, trust, and a healthy sex life are key. Love is the easy part of a marriage. Learning how to communicate, appreciate, and make time for one another is the difficult part.

Here’s a list of lesser-known factors that can lead to a lasting marriage:

Woo each other. When you first started dating, it was probably easy to keep things hot: special dates, surprises, homemade dinners. It can be easy to forget to keep the fire going when stress from your career, kids, and other responsibilities are present. Bring the surprise back into your marriage. It doesn’t have to be something major: A love note in their lunch box, a babysitter for a surprise date night, or bringing home take out and a movie.

Be present. Getting a sitter, planning a date, or having dinner with your spouse are all great, but being together physically isn’t the same as being together emotionally. Make an effort to put your phone down; take a break from calls, texts, and social media (another factor to a long-lasting marriage is to limit your time spent on social media). Alone time with your spouse isn’t always easy to get, so make sure the time that you do get is well-spent.

Common interests. Couples with shared interests are more likely to participate in activities together and have a fun time doing them. Most couples won’t have a complete list of shared interests. If one partner likes to play basketball and the other would rather go running, that’s okay, too. As long as you both are happy participating in their individual hobby. You can go to the gym together, and do your own activities.

Using “we” during arguments. Instead of using pronouns like “I”, “you”, and “me”, make a conscious effort to use “we” and “us.” Studies suggest that couples who use the word “we” and “us” during conflicts were better able to resolve skirmishes and suffered less stress from those arguments. The study also found that the use of individual pronouns is linked to having an unhappy marriage.

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photo credit: Sean Molin Photography via photopin cc