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Secret To A Long-Lasting Marriage: Put Your Personal Happiness Aside

Secret To A Long-Lasting Marriage: Put Your Personal Happiness Aside

“If both of you are putting each other first then no one comes second.”

–Author Unknown

By: Pedro Ribeiro Simões
    Photo Credit: Pedro Ribeiro Simões on Flickr

    Shortly after meeting my (now) husband and we began dating, he was called away to participate in a week long training exercise at Camp Lejeune. He was in the Navy at the time and the training was a part of his job. Before he left, he stopped by my apartment to say his good byes. He said the usual–I’m going to miss you and I’ll see you as soon as I get back–or something to that effect.

    And then, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the keys to his car and his bank card. He gave me the pin number to his account and told me to spend whatever I needed for gas and any other shopping I wanted to do. I was stunned. I weakly tried to protest but he just kissed me on the forehead, said good bye and strolled out the door.

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    When he returned from training, he didn’t even go home. He had his friend drop him off at my place as we were so eager to see each other. When I greeted him at the door he scooped me up in his arms and held me in a long embrace. We made dinner plans and I gave him back the keys to his car and his bank card…

    Years later, while reminiscing about how we first met, I asked my husband when he knew for sure that he was in love with me. He said when he returned home from his trip to Camp Lejeune and saw his car and checked his account. “When I saw that you had completely detailed my car and had added money to my account–I knew you were the one. You returned everything to me in better shape than I left it.”

    We were married one month after that trip.

    How to make a marriage work

    When moving forward in your marriage you will face challenges and obstacles. It is inevitable. There are so many prevailing theories, teachings and schools of thought on how to make a marriage work. The reality is there is no one single recipe leading to marital bliss. You have to take a few very basic and fundamental principles and tailor them to meet the needs of you and your spouse.

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    The most critical of these basic principles is: Put your Spouse First

    “If both of you are putting each other first then no one comes second.”

    This quote goes against every selfish instinct that we as human beings have. Ego-centrism comes naturally. We all tend to focus on ourselves and our own selfish needs. However, the very essence of marriage and relationships center around the fact that it is no longer about you as an individual but about the marital unit. The goal in marriage and relationships should be to move from being selfish to selfless.

    It’s incredibly difficult to put someone’s wants, needs, hopes, dreams and happiness ahead of your own.

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    Granted, this is easier to do when we’re blinded by passion  — as tends to happen during the “honeymoon period.” But doing it on an everyday basis isn’t easy. And that’s what love should be. It should be making the love of your life a top priority — day in and day out.

    When two people in a relationship care more for each other than they do for themselves–they are on their way to finding true happiness. True happiness–I mean the deep down feeling of contentment, solitude and peace–comes from making others happy.

    pexels-photo-25866

      What does selflessness in a marriage look like?

      Let’s be clear… Putting your spouse first, in no way means totally neglecting yourself and becoming a blind puppet. Sometimes to ensure the ultimate happiness of your spouse gentle push back on bad ideas may be required. Especially on things that may cause them harm and more headaches in the end. You may have to encourage them to have better eating and exercise habits and walk along side them through the process. It is loving them enough to always do what is best for them–and sometimes that causes conflict.

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      One of the most significant rules my husband and I live by is to always treat each other better than we treat others. What this means is the same courtesy, kindness and tolerance we extend to friends, family, associates and strangers, we extend to each other on a much higher level. When you are angry with your spouse, before you speak, ask yourself “would I say that to my mother, best friend or boss?” If it’s not appropriate to say it to anyone else it is definitely off limits for your spouse.

      Find small ways to make your spouse feel cherished and special. Go out of your way for them every chance you get. Make them your number one priority–always. Marriage takes sacrifice and putting your spouse first is how to make a marriage work.

      More by this author

      Denise Hill

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      Last Updated on November 17, 2019

      40 Amazing Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

      40 Amazing Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

      With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, starry-eyed lovers worldwide are getting ready to celebrate their love and planning the perfect date for their partner. However, there are many loving, caring, and generally great people out there who simply can’t think of a single romantic thing to do, let alone create the ultimate Valentine’s Day experience for their loved one. If you are looking for some great date ideas that will put a smile on your partner’s face and melt their heart, then just keep on reading. I’ve got a pretty big list of choices for you. Here are some great ideas ranging from tried and true classics, to the fun and slightly unconventional.

      1. Rom-coms marathon

      This is a very basic yet highly romantic way of spending the day with your partner. Take a few days to prepare the right playlist and create a romantic atmosphere at home. You can order out some food, open a bottle of wine and cuddle up in front of the TV.

      2. Recreate your first date

      Rated pretty high on the “romantic gestures scale,” this is guaranteed to impress your significant other. It requires a good memory and a bit of work to make it just right, but it is well worth it. Walk down the same streets where you first kissed and have a couple of drinks in that old coffee shop where you had your first drinks together. Don’t be afraid to spend a bit extra and add a little romantic gift into the mix.

      3. Cook for your loved one

      Start researching good recipes for a romantic dinner for two, get the right ingredients and prepare a couple of practice dinners to make sure you’ve got your technique and presentation down pat. Cooking for someone can be a big turn on and you can create some incredible meals without spending too much money. Take it up a notch by dressing classy, decorating your dining room and presenting your partner with a printed menu.

      4. Organize your very own ancient Greek party

      Here’s another one of those creative date ideas for the stay-at-home couple. The ancient Greek private party can be a very fun and erotic experience. You can decorate by using big bowls full of grapes, spreading some white sheets all over the place, placing some plastic vines here and there, putting up a few posters depicting Greek parties and having plenty of wine lying around. Wear nothing but light sheets or costumes and channel some of that hot-blooded Greek spirit.

      5. A romantic weekend getaway in the mountains

      For those looking for a change of scenery and an escape from the busy city, there is nothing better than a quiet, romantic weekend in the mountains. There are plenty of fun activities like skiing that will keep you active. You can have fun making a snowman or engaging in a snowball fight, and, of course, there is plenty of privacy and great room service waiting for you back at your room.

      6. Fun day at the shooting range

      A bit unconventional but an incredibly fun and exciting date that will get your blood pumping and put a huge smile on your faces. Try out a number of guns and have a bit of a competition. Some outdoor ranges have fully automatic rifles, which are a blast to shoot.

      7. Rent an expensive sports car for a day

      Don’t be afraid to live large from time to time—even if you can’t afford the glamorous lifestyle of the stars, you can most definitely play pretend for a day. Put on some classy clothes and drive around town in a rented sports car. The quick acceleration and high speed are sure to provide an exhilarating experience.

      8. Go on a shopping spree together

      Very few things can elicit such a huge dopamine rush as a good old shopping spree. Get some new lingerie, pretty shoes, a nice shirt and tie, a couple of new video games or whatever else you need or want. This is a unique chance to bond, have fun and get some stuff that you’ve been waiting to buy for a while now.

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      9. Hit the clubs

      For all the party animals out there, one of the best date ideas is to go out drinking, dancing, and just generally enjoying the night life. Visit a few good clubs, then go to an after-party and keep that party spirit going for as long as you can.

      10. Spend the day driving around the city and visiting new places

      This one is geared towards couples who have been together for a year or two and want to experience a few new things together. Visit a few cool coffee places on the other side of town, check out interesting restaurants you’ve never been to, and consider going to see a play or having fun at a comedy club on open mic night.

      11. Wine and chocolates at sunset

      Pick out a romantic location, such as a camping spot on a hill overlooking the city or a balcony in a restaurant with a nice view, open a bottle of wine and a box of chocolates and wait for that perfect moment when the sky turns fiery red to embrace and share a passionate kiss.

      12. Ice skating

      There is something incredibly fun about ice skating that brings people closer together and just keeps you laughing (maybe it’s all the falling and clinging to the other person for dear life). You can have some great fun and then move on to a more private location for some alone time.

      13. Body painting

      Speaking of private locations and intimate moments, body painting allows you to spice things up back at your place and add a new element of fun to foreplay. You’ll need adequate body paints and some brushes and the rest is up to you. You can do tiger stripes, paint a t-shirt on your partner, or go for something more abstract—the choice is yours.

      14. Model clothes for each other

      This one goes well when combined with a shopping spree, but you can just get a bunch of your clothes—old and new—from the closet, set up a catwalk area and then try on different combinations. You can be stylish, funny or beautiful. It’s a great after-dinner show and a good way to transition into a more intimate atmosphere.

      15. Dance the night away

      If you and your significant other are relatively good dancers, or if you simply enjoy moving your body to the rhythm of the music, then a night at salsa club or similar venue is the perfect thing for you. Alternatively, you can set up dance floor at home, play your favorite music, have a few drinks and dance like there is no tomorrow.

      16. Lock the doors, turn off the phones and have the whole house to yourselves

      This one might seem a bit obvious and kind of redundant seeing as how I’ve already mentioned a bunch of stay-at-home date ideas that require this step as a prerequisite, but when I say, “Have the whole house to yourselves,” I literally mean turning the whole house into romantic stage where you can explore your fantasies. Decorate each room a bit differently, have a lot of snacks and drinks lying around, put a bunch of blankets and pillows on the floor and go from room to room throughout the day. You can start off with a steaming shower, have a romantic meal, then watch a movie cuddled up on the couch and eventually make your way to the bedroom.

      17. Organize a nature walk

      Being outside has many health benefits, but what you are going for is the beautiful view, seclusion, and the thrill of engaging in some erotic behavior out in the open. You can rent a cottage far from the city, bring some food and drinks, and explore the wilderness. This is nice way to spice things up a bit and get away from the loud and busy city life.

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      18. Act out a fun scenario wearing costumes

      Some role-playing may be just the thing you need to spice up your love life after a few years of being together, but it can be a very fun experience for new couples as well. Work on the scenario together (wounded soldier and nurse, a female cop arresting a robber, etc.), buy the right costumes and accessories beforehand and find a good setting. You could also rent a hotel room to add to the forbidden-fruit vibe.

      19. Travel abroad

      This takes a bit of planning in advance and may be a bit costly, but if you can afford it, there are very few things that can match a trip to France, Italy, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, or a number of other excellent locations.

      20. Go on a hot-air balloon ride

      These are very fun and romantic—you get an incredible view, get to experience the thrill of flying, and you’ve got enough room for a romantic dinner and some champagne. Just be sure to wear warm clothes, it can get pretty cold high up in the air.

      21. A relaxing day at the spa

      Treat your body, mind and senses to a relaxing day at the spa. You and your partner will feel fresh, comfortable and relaxed—a perfect date for the more serious couples who don’t get to spend as much time with each other as they’d like.

      22. A trip down memory lane

      This one is great for long-term couples who will benefit from reminiscing about all of their fondest memories together from the start of the relationship through to the present, reliving some of the most significant moments they shared.

      23. Fun times at a karaoke bar

      A great choice for couples celebrating their first Valentine’s Day together—it’s fairly informal and inexpensive, yet incredibly fun and allows for deeper bonding. Once you have a few drinks in your system and come to terms with the fact that you are making a complete fool of yourself, you’ll have the time of your life!

      24. Helicopter tour of the city followed by dinner

      A modern equivalent to the hot-air balloon ride, the helicopter tour is among the more reasonably priced date ideas and is incredibly romantic and exciting. After about half an hour or an hour of sightseeing you can finish off the upper-class experience by dining in a nice restaurant.

      25. Horseback riding

      Horseback riding is incredibly fun, especially if you’ve never done it before. And what girl doesn’t dream of a prince coming to take her on an adventure on his noble steed? It evokes a sense of nobility and is a very good bonding experience.

      26. Plan a fun date night with other couples

      Take a break and rent a cabin in the woods, go to a mountain resort, a couple’s retreat, or just organize a huge date night at someone’s place and hang out with other couples. This is a great option for couples who have spent at least one Valentine’s Day together and allows you to customize your experience to suit your needs. Also, you can always retire early and get some alone time with your partner if you so desire.

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      27. Cocktail night

      This can be done privately, or with other couples if you are organizing a group Valentine’s Day celebration at someone’s house. All you need is a bunch of different drinks, a few accessories like fruit and spices, and internet access to check out some cool recipes online. Try out all sorts of fun cocktails and mix some brand new ones on your own. Make it a fancy dress night for added fun.

      28. Make reservations at an exclusive restaurant

      A fairly old school move, except this time you can pick out a restaurant that serves a particular type of cuisine you’ve never tried before. Go for a place that has unusual menus and likes to make a show out of presenting the food, rather than just going for your regular “suits and monocles” type venue.

      29. Go to a concert

      There are a whole bunch of things happening around Valentine’s Day, so go online and check out what’s happening near you. You’ll surely be able to find tickets for a cool concert or some type of festival with live music.

      30. Fancy night on the town

      Buy some elegant new clothes, rent a limo for the night and go to a nice restaurant, followed by a jazz club or gallery exhibition. Walk tall, make a few sarcastic quips, and have a few laughs with your partner while letting your inner snob take charge for a few hours.

      31. Take a tour of the historical and cultural sites of your city

      For the cultured crowd and history buffs among us, a day spent learning about some of the local history and delving deeper into national culture is both incredibly fun and a great way to share a unique experience with a loved one. You’d be surprised to find just how much you don’t know about the place you live in.

      32. Live out a James Bond film at a casino

      A beautiful lady in a simple yet sensual, form-fitting, black dress, and a strong and handsome, if somewhat stern-looking man in a fine suit walk up to a roulette table with drinks in hand and place bets at random as they smile at each other seductively. This is a scenario most of us wish to play out, but rarely get a chance. It can be a bit costly, but this is one of the most incredibly adventurous and romantic date ideas.

      33. Go bungee jumping

      People in long-term relationships often talk about things like keeping a relationship fun and exciting, doing new things together, trusting each other and using aphrodisiacs. Well, bungee jumping is a fun, exhilarating activity you can both enjoy; it requires trust and the adrenaline rush you get from it is better than any aphrodisiac out there. Just saying, give it a shot and you won’t regret it.

      34. Take a tour of a winery or brewery

      Taking a tour like this can be a great opportunity to learn new things about wine or beer (or perhaps whiskey) and how it is made, while at the same time getting a chance to taste some excellent drinks and get a few bottles for later in the evening.

      35. Make a fun music video

      Meet up earlier in the day, take decent camera, and start shooting a music video. Rehearse the lyrics (you can even make up your own silly song), dress up, and start filming. You’ll have tons of fun doing it and you can edit the video later and have a cool memento.

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      36. Play some sports

      Some one-on-one basketball, a soccer match against another couple, a bit of tennis, or even something as simple as a table tennis tournament (make it fun by stripping off items of clothing when you lose a game). You can combine this with date idea #13 and paint team uniforms on each other and play in the nude.

      37. Visit a club with live music

      A great option for just about any couple—pick a club that has live performers (whether it’s jazz, rock or even a poetry reading) and dress up for the occasion. Be sure to make reservations in advance to avoid the Valentine’s Day rush, and focus on making your date feel comfortable.

      38. Take skydiving lessons

      Another adrenaline-filled date, skydiving is sure to get your heart racing like crazy and leave you with a goofy grin for the rest of the day. You can offset all the excitement by ending the day with a quiet dinner at home.

      39. Go for some paintball

      Playing war games is an excellent way to get your body moving, focus on some of that hand-eye-coordination, and engage your brain in coming up with tactical solutions in the heat of the moment. It is also a great bonding experience, adrenaline-fueled fun, and role-playing all wrapped into one. And when you get back home, you can always act out the wounded soldier scenario (see #18).

      40. Fill the whole day with random fun activities

      Just say no to plans, reservations and clichés—take your partner by the hand, have your credit card ready and just go out and have some fun. Bowling, followed by a drink at a coffee shop and then a romantic movie? Sure, why not? Going for lunch at a nice restaurant and then organizing a double-date game night? Go right ahead. Going for a long walk in the park, visiting a museum, followed by romantic meal at home and then going out to a club? Hey, who am I to say no? You can use some of the ideas from this article and mash them up together to create a fun-filled Valentine’s Day you’ll both remember.

      There you go, a whole bunch of useful date ideas for all you loving couples out there. You can pick out any one of these, make some adjustments or even combine different options to create the perfect Valentine’s Day date for your significant other. Plan ahead, have fun and celebrate your love proudly.

      Featured photo credit: Relevante design via unsplash.com

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