I am NOT an expert in marriage, but after 32 years of it, I have some things figured out. Whether you stay joyfully married or just plain married is up to you. (Some of you are struggling with the issue of separation in a marriage and this post is for you, too.)
Here are some things I think are important. Feel free to add your own musings.
1. Recognize that neither person is perfect. Never will be and you shouldn't expect that, but once you are "in" a marriage relationship your motto should be, "I ain't going nowhere." Translation: "I'm in this for the duration." When you enter marriage with the idea that (1) you can "fool" around on your spouse, (2) do anything you want without thought of the other's feelings and (3) IF it doesn't work out, we can always divorce, you have missed the entire point of commitment.
2. Clean up your act. If there are things that REALLY bother the other person, do your best to avoid doing those things. If you enter the marriage with the idea, "That's just me and you'll have to live with it," then you've missed part of the idea behind sacrifice. The other part of sacrifice is doing things for your spouse that make his or her life easier.
3. Watch your finances. The old saying is "when money problems come in the front door, love goes out the back door." Very true...spending above what you can pay for is foolish and the stress of living under constant pressure of never having enough money is excruciating. It brings on endless fusses and fights. Buy what you need (not want) and pay cash. If you don't, you miss the point of frugality.
4. Whether you agree or not, a marriage truly centered on Christ works best. When you look to Him and His Word rather than to the world's babbling advice, your relationship will turn out better. That's not to say there won't be problems, but if you both are patterning your relationship on what the Bible says, your chances of succeeding are excellent. If you don't use this pattern, you are missing the example Christ set as the Bridegroom Who loves His Bride, the Church.
5. Show compassion to your spouse, children, family and others outside your family. Compassion keeps you centered on the more important things of life. It takes the spotlight off you and shines it on someone else, therefore avoiding selfishness.
6. Pray for one another. Prayer and faith in God can move mountains, it can change others and it can soothe souls. It is essential for navigating the rough waters of life with or without a partner.
7. Laugh. There is nothing like a good belly laugh to smooth out the wrinkles of everyday living. No matter how dismal the situation, it won't last forever. Try to find some humor even in the dark times.
8. Never give up hope. Not hope for bigger and better cars, homes, or jobs but hope that if you are doing your very best you will one day be rewarded with the phrase, "Well done good and faithful servant..."
Now, I know some of you are in a place where these things are out of the question, humanly speaking. You must realize that if you are doing ( not have done but doing)...YOUR part and have encouraged your partner to do his or hers, then you must turn the outcome over to God. Period.
Strive, therefore, for real joy and peace in your marriage (or in your life) rather than fleeting happiness. There is a difference you know. My hope & prayer for those of you who are struggling with issues in your marriage (or in your life) is that that joy and peace will come to you. Keep the faith. God is good.