After nearly 12 years of marriage, over half a dozen moves in 3 states, a handful of children, some major trauma, and a good dose of "extended family issues" Ahhmmmm In-laws... Some are still a little shocked we are going strong after all of this time. Me, on the other hand, I am really not because both before we married and after we have made a point to put work into the success of our marriage. Work out the pet peeves We all have pet peeves and they can become an issue for couples. Instead of arguing over it work as a team to deal with them by finding solutions that work for you. My husband and kids like to squeeze the toothpaste tubes... SO I have my own. My husband is a blanket hog... So we each have our own blanket to solve that issue. My husband and I do not like each other's music for the most part... So I wear headphones when he is home and he listens to the worst of his stuff in the car. Make a point to be playful When it comes to our marriage compared to many of our friends that are divorced the biggest difference is that my husband and I never stopped playing with each other. This, of course, is highly entertaining to those around us when we are out of the house. Watching two 30 something-year-olds run and chase each term or poke fun at each other in the grocery store is well entertaining. This can take time to create new habits if you are not already playful with each other. This is worth the effort allowing you to keep a strong bond. Spend quality time together. We don't get out for dates often. That may be a poor habit we picked up when living out of state without any real support system. Now we try to sneak on dates out of the house here and there but we never gave up on our at-home date nights. Our favorite date night is to simply cook together after the kids are in bed. It is so much fun running around the kitchen making something tasty as a team. More often than not it is steaks cooked in the cast iron with butter, onions, garlic, and whatever spices we each added. We do this a couple of times a week even if it means putting the kids to bed early to get some quality time together. Sometimes I feel guilty but the fact is the kids need parents that are in a stable relationship. Build a support system Gather friends and family around you. This is part of why we have weddings, besides engagement gifts for couple that you receive before the wedding. Your wedding is a way to gather people that mean the world to you and deliberate your choice to spend the rest of your life with your partner. Like at your wedding where you want to surround yourself with people that are happy for you and want you to succeed you want the same in your everyday life. Gather the people that will life you and your marriage up and keep them close. They are worth their weight in gold. You will have arguments and fights. There is no way around it. You are two different people walking the same path. The people around you will either support you like my father when my husband and I get into a big fight "He is a good man and he is good to you give him a break." Or hinder your happiness with comments like my aunt "leave him, he's not worth your time, you're too good for him." While the later maybe more on the lines of what you want to hear when you are having a fight, the former is what you need. A few years after my husband and I got married I was informed that his family had a bet on how long our marriage would last. They had been routing behind our backs for us to split up. The longest bet had been three years. My family wasn't all much better. My sister was caught mid eye roll-on camera when my husband and I kissed after saying "I do" we laugh about this all the time. When our accident happened last year my sister was the first to jump to my husband's defense. If it wasn't for the support we have had our marriage would not survive the trauma, stress, and pure roller coaster of our lives. Give counseling a try One thing I laughed about when my husband and I got married was the requirement to do premarital counseling before our wedding. But years later I look back and while we didn't do much with it I do think it thought us a great deal about communication. Communication is vital for a strong relationship and for that alone I am grateful we did it. These days you can do pre-marital and even pre-engagement counseling to help you build a good foundation. Now before you are married is the best time to think about the foundation of your relationship and build up the recourses to have a strong healthy and lasting marriage. This post is brought to you by Regain. An online digital therapy program for couples that can help you get through life’s challenges. All advice and opinions are my own.