1. Identify 'no-go zones' (things you avoid discussing) and continue to ignore them for about 10 years. E.g. finances. We got on a whole lot better in the early years when we stopped talking about money.
2. When the inevitable crisis hits (e.g. financial failure), decide that the 'no-go zone' is not going to be a deal-breaker. (If you choose the opposite, then it's all over red rover and this is the point at which many marriages end, we think.) It's time to discover some new skills, attitudes, maturity and growth. A crisis can never be underestimated for its value in this regard.
3. Start talking. Willingly. Honestly. Transparently. Develop self-awareness and learn to articulate your thoughts and feelings. Continue this practice in an ongoing manner.
4. Start listening. Deeply. Without judgment. Make it safe for the other to be transparent. Continue this practice in an ongoing manner.
5. Fight fair. Don't accuse, blame, divert attention, or stonewall. Always respect. Some people may only be honest when they are angry. If this is the case, be very careful about the potential for your words to wound. Some people may discard honesty in favour of being kind. This is not helpful either - as it's not honest. Aim for total honesty blended in equal measures with total kindness.
6. Graciously accept and embrace the changes and growth of each other during the years. Attitudes change. Circumstances change. There are highs and lows and life-experience has a way of shaping us in colourful ways.
7. Even though you are each individuals, realise that together you are a partnership. What affects one of you, affects both of you - for better or worse. Share each other's highs and lows. Avoid competition with each other, as this undermines the partnership which you are operating within.
8. When things are good, marriage is easy. Enjoy yourselves and the good times while they exist. It's tougher when challenges come along (e.g. sickness, financial stress, loss). So recognise the value of a good crisis. These can be both the 'worst of times and the best of times' as you grapple with circumstances together.
I consider myself truly privileged to be in such a fantastic partnership with Meyles, to be loved and totally accepted for who I am - warts and all. The above are the principles with which we conduct our marriage and they work for us. We love being married and wonder where we will celebrate our 50th anniversary in another 25 years' time.
Wishing you all lots of love