14. Even the most stubborn among us can learn how to yield. Trust me on this one.
15. Most of your spouse’s upsets and frustrations aren’t about you — but some are. The sooner you figure out which is which, the better off you’ll be.
16. During hard times, commitment may be your saving grace. The fact that, way back when, you said “’till death do us part” may be the only reason you keep two feet in long enough to fix what’s not going well. And that’s reason enough.
17. Marriage can make you a better person or a worse person. It’s your choice.
18. Complaints and criticisms aren’t the same thing as requests for change.
19. Discouragement is one of the greatest threats to marriage. I’ve seen struggling couples give up on marriages that could quite likely be saved had they been given the proper guidance and encouragement to hang in there and fix things.
20. Thinking you have a 50-50 chance of ending up divorced makes it seem like a coin toss. It’s not. There are some behaviors that nearly guarantee failure. We all know what they are. It’s a good idea to not do them.
21. Being nice helps.
22. Saying thank-you does, too.
23. The happier I am about my own life, the less irritated I am about my husband’s irritating behaviors.
24. A good marriage will have its share of conflict, frustration, boredom, unresolvable arguments, slammed doors and nights where one person sleeps on the couch. The key is to have enough good things to balance them out.
25. It’s not always easy to keep your heart open.
26. Love matters. While love doesn’t heal all, even (especially) during hard times, love is a touchstone, a reminder of why you got together in the first place.
27. Marriage is not an antidote for loneliness. While marriage provides companionship, closeness and connection are not a constant. Sometimes we’re in sync. Sometimes we’re not. It’s important to be able to soothe and comfort yourself when need be.
28. It’s easy to get into a rut when you’re with the same person, year after year. Sex. Vacations. Dinner. How you spend Saturday night. Change things. Add some spice.
29. Most good marriages have one person who plays the role of the relationship “guardian”: The person who brings up difficult subjects. The person who stays hopeful in hard times. The person who acts as a steadying influence when one or both of you are getting worked-up. In an ideal world, that role would be shared. In the real world it only takes one.
30. One of the best things to do in the midst of a fight is to stop fighting. Take a break. Cool down. Come back to it later. Hotheads are terrible problem solvers.
31. Some conflicts cannot be resolved by compromise. (We can’t have half a child or buy half a vacation home). When there’s no such thing as “meeting halfway,” the solution becomes a matter of generosity, where one person says “yes” to their second choice and the other acknowledges that as a gift.