25 To Life: Dating & Marriage Tips from Couples Who Have Been Married 25+ Years

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Can we agree that all advice isn’t good advice? Sometimes your friends want to tell you how to do something even if they haven’t been through it (*shaking my head*). So, instead of boring you with tips that are just theories, here is some dating, marriage and relationship advice from couples who have been married for at least 25 years or more.

1. Don’t Go to Bed Angry

Even if you can’t resolve a disagreement before you hit the sheets, you can agree to let the anger go for the night. Remind each other how lucky you are — even as you disagree — to have each other to disagree with.

2. Give Compliments

To give a compliment, you’ve got to pay attention — really notice something about someone. If it’s been a while since you’ve doled out flattering praise, try it. It costs nothing to say, “You look good,” “You did a great job,” or “I like your shirt.” Compliments can really reassure and pump up your spouse.

3. Hold Hands

Back in our parents’ time, hand-holding and discreet pecks on the cheek were tasteful, chaste displays of affection. Although anything goes these days, it’s encouraged that couples simply hold hands in public. It somehow affirms to everyone your undying affection and love for each other, and it shows everyone that you are proud to be with each other and you want everyone to know it.

There’s an actual electrical connection that passes between us when we touch. You can use that electrical connection to provide juice in your marriage. Give each other little pats and gentle touches and hold hands frequently when you’re walking or driving and you’ll keep the energy — and the sweetness — flowing between you.

4. Be a Little Old-Fashioned

Once you are in love, ask questions like: Is this person likely to be a good provider? Can they manage money? Are they likely to be a good parent? Marriage is a financial arrangement in addition to a love one and one in which your economic future is entwined with somebody else’s. And as one husband eloquently said, “Making love is so much better when the bills are paid!”

5. Watch Your Partner While They Play

Watching someone play a game is “extremely diagnostic.” You get a chance to observe how someone behaves under stress, whether they’re honest and how they handle defeat. Small things can tell you very big things about a couple’s suitability.

6. Do a Sense of Humor Check

Observe what makes your partner laugh. If he thinks a whoopee cushion is funny and you don’t, it certainly won’t get funnier for you 30 years from now. It’s a simple test of whether your worldviews align.

7. Cut Back on Complaints

Yesteryear’s couples had a comic reputation for nagging — yet, in truth, many partners often held their tongues. A stumbling block in modern marriages is a constant soundtrack of discord.

Current generations think that closeness comes from sharing everything, and letting each other know how miserable you are. But it doesn’t motivate me to treat you better. Relaying every annoyance is a bad idea. Instead, pick your battles. “Not everything needs to be addressed.”

8. Try Thoughtful Little Acts

Back in the day, with fewer stresses, limited technology and less multitasking, couples were more “present” in their relationships. The presence of little, daily thoughtful acts showed caring and appreciation for one another. This includes things like making breakfast for your spouse or packing their lunch, bringing them coffee in the morning or a drink or glass of wine at the end of the day, warming up their car or putting their keys and other personal effects on the hall table, ready to go. Sustaining a happy relationship requires careful thought, a generous spirit and hard work.

There’s a lot of wisdom to be gained from our parents or grandparents. They had companionship marriage, but we’ve raised the bar — we want romance, great sex, and more intimacy. We can reconcile these two approaches. With some of the gentleness and graciousness of previous generations with the technology and savvy of today’s marriages.

9. Maintain Same-Sex Friends — and Interests

Women, don’t try to regulate your husband’s pleasures and don’t be jealous if they don’t include you. It’s only been during the past couple of decades that couples became expected to share the bulk of their free time together.

Retro couples didn’t necessarily want to participate in each others hobbies. Couples should keep close ties with their same-sex friends throughout marriage. This will give you both time to cultivate your own interests, and not be totally reliant on each other for their entertainment.

10. Still Dress to Impress

You can inspire romance by dressing up for the occasion. With our hectic schedules, it’s tempting to resort to sweatpants all weekend or immediately change into a ratty T-shirt after work. Instead, dress up the next time you and your spouse have dinner or plan a night out. Wearing a beautiful dress or a button-down shirt and slacks will be unexpected and make your partner feel special that you took the extra time to look nice. Taking time with your appearance inspires romance and shows your partner you care. Never let yourself go. Look your best as often as possible — it will make your partner feel loved and proud.

11. Put Pen to Paper

Back before cell phones and instant messaging, people wrote letters of affection to each other, often waiting weeks to receive them. Love letters exchanged between a couple can strengthen their relationship by helping them connect to one another on a deeper level.

These letters may also become treasured keepsakes that can be revisited and experienced anew each time they are read. You’ll reap bonus points if you handwrite it on beautiful paper and enclose a cherished memento such as a photograph or ticket stub from a movie you saw together.

12. Make Manners Cool Again

“Please,” “thank you,” “pardon me” and “may I” are phrases that seemed to have all but disappeared from present-day vocabularies, especially with our loved ones. You should extend your partner the same courtesy you would a stranger. When speaking to your spouse, don’t be rude, be respectful. Use a combination of old-school civility and modern frankness. Additionally, try more sweetness and tenderness by saying things more lovingly. Politeness is like a lubricant for your daily interactions; it makes everything go more smoothly.

Husbands, show her that chivalry is not dead: Pull out her chair, open the door for her, help her over a puddle, give her your coat when it is cold outside, help her put on her coat. This act of affection shows that she is important and there is a level of respect for her.

13. Have Couples Fun

Cocktail hour and formal anniversary celebrations with like-minded couples were common activities shared by our parents and their friends. It’s fun and a great way to be social with others and playful with one another.

It is important to identify friends who are healthy additions to your social circle. Your goal is to become close with other couples with similar standards and interests who have positive attitudes about marriage and family life. Gravitate toward fun couples who make you feel supported and enhance your active, healthy lifestyle. Friends like these are good for your marriage and overall well-being. (BlackDoctor.org by Angela L. Davis)

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