Make sure the excitement doesn’t fade away. Not even after you’ve been married for 20 years! Follow our A-Z guide for inspiration to keep your marriage healthy, exciting and breath-taking…

A = Admit. Acknowledge when you have made a mistake. It is not always easy to admit when you are wrong. Remember that being kind is more important than being right.

B = Be interested. A marriage is not a one-way relationship. Don’t lose interest in your partner. Ask him how his day was at work. Ask her how it is going with her friend… Asking questions shows that you are still interested in your partner and that you want to know more about him/her.

C = Corny… Yes! Sometimes being romantic may seem corny. The red rose petals, the heart-shaped chocolate… but that doesn’t mean you should not do it! Even if you serenade her outside the bedroom window and you laugh together about how absurd it feels, it will bring you closer together.

D = Date nights. This is a must, even though it might be a huge challenge. Research shows that date nights have many great benefits and bring couples closer together. Therefore, in our opinion, date nights are non-negotiable.

E = Each on his own. Although it is important for you to do things together, it is equally important to retain your own identities in your relationship. Don’t feel guilty about going for coffee with a friend and encourage him to go on the boys-only hunting trip. In any case, the freedom will only make you yearn more for each other.

F = Flirt. Even after you’ve been married for twenty years and you know every trick in the book, keep flirting. Even though you know she won’t fall for your pickup lines or clumsy approach. Flirting shows your partner that he/she is still desirable and that you are willing to make an effort to win him/her over.

G = Give. Without expecting something in return. When you pay your partner a compliment, don’t expect to receive one in return. When you do your partner a favour, don’t expect him/her to repay you with an act of servitude. Give in order to make your partner feel good. Without any expectations.

H = Honesty and trust. Transparency is one of the most important characteristics of successful marriages. You want your partner to trust you and if you are trustworthy, you should not have anything to hide. Therefore, trust your partner with the pin to your bank account, the passcode for your phone and the passwords with which he/she can access your computer and accounts.

I = Intimacy. Value intimacy in your marriage. Research shows that the frequency of sex is a significant indication of how happy couples are outside of the bedroom. So, keep the sheets warm.

J = Jot down in a journal. List all the things that you are thankful for about your partner. At least write down one thing every day. This will make it easier for you to remember why you fell in love in the first place.

K = Keep up your appearance. Don’t let your tattered sweat pants and your granny panties become your uniform. Even if you have been together for a long time, still take care to look good for each other. And make a special effort for your partner – even when you are just staying home. Red lipstick goes a long way…

L = Listen. Listen when your partner talks to you. Don’t just hear the words, but truly listen. This means that you should listen to every word that comes out of his/her mouth, without glancing to your telephone or the television screen.

M = Manners. This may seem obvious, but basic manners often fly out the window when a couple gets comfortable with each other. Remember to say thank you and please – it will make your partner feel respected and valued. Researchers at the University of North Caroline has found that when partners show gratitude toward each other, it strengthens their relationship.

N = Number please. Yes, use technology to your advantage. Send each other exciting WhatsApp messages, sexy photos (just double check that you are sending it to your partner and not your child’s class group!) and flirt via text messages.

O = Oh, the small things. Forget about the little things and focus on the big picture. In the long run, your partner’s little irritating mistakes, don’t matter. On the other hand, when it comes to caring for each other, it is the little things that count. Forget about flying a banner behind an aeroplane. And appreciate the man who carries the pink floral diaper bag when you are too tired.

P = Priorities. A busy work schedule and children can make it hard to put your partner first. In fact, we often tend to move our partners down the priority list thinking that he/she would be the one that would understand… try to avoid doing that.

Q = Quizzes. One of the most enjoyable “games” a couple could play is to complete questionnaires together. Most of these questionnaires (except the better researched personality tests) should be taken with a pinch of salt, but nonetheless they are great fun and make for good conversation. And who knows, perhaps you learn something new about each other.

R = Rituals. There is a lot of value in creating rituals and traditions. These can bring you closer together, no matter how long you have been married. That special seat in the movie theatre, the Christmas dish you prepare together… create new traditions and memories that can help keep the flame burning.

S = Soul mates. Don’t use the term “soul mate” in vain. Yes, it is true that some people truly find a partner who fits them like a missing puzzle piece, but it is also perfectly normal for you and your partner to be perfect for each other, without matching 100% all the time. You may disagree, fight and even sometimes feel like killing each other.

T = Take it off – each other. This one made us giggle, but yes, for a healthy and exciting marriage, make sure that you and your partner undress each other regularly. After years of marriage, sex often becomes a routine task that is planned ahead. You and your partner normally take off your own clothes very unceremoniously, 1-2-3 and it is over. Rather make a thing of it. Undress each other and take your time with sex…

U = Unplanned. Every now and then, do something totally impulsive. Get in the car and drive to the Karoo for the long weekend. Go parachuting. Invite friends to a last-minute get-together. Something that is out of the norm can make your relationship feel fresh, even if you have been together for decades.

V = Variety. Although routine is part of any married couple’s marriage, it is good to step outside your comfort zone every now and then and surprise your partner. Leave a note, a bunch of flowers or dedicate a song on the radio… whatever you can do to make your partner understand that you want to make him/her feel special unexpectedly.

W = Wake up together. Go to bed together and get up together. Research published in Psychosomatic Medicine shows that women experience a more positive interaction with their partners when they go to bed together. Starting and ending your days together is very special.

X = XXX. Kiss! Never underestimate the power of a good kiss. There are days when one is just too tired or when there isn’t enough time for proper fun in bed. That doesn’t mean that a good kiss is also off the table… Kiss your partner before bed time, before work and right after you wake up. It can boost dopamine levels and make you feel happier.

Y = Yes! Try saying “Yes” to your partner as often as possible. You want to make your partner happy, don’t you? And you want to invest positive energy in your marriage. So, the next time he asks you to accompany him to a work function, or whether you would send an email on his behalf, or if you are up for Christmas with his family, remember to say “Yes”…

Z = Zero pressure. Do you sometimes feel pressure to show that you are a super couple? To be the template in your circle of friends and show everyone how in love you still are after thirty years? That type of pressure (which couples often put on themselves) is exhausting! And sometimes you try so hard to project the right energy in front of others that you have nothing lefts for your partner. Except that you are average, that you may fight sometimes and that sometimes you doubt yourselves. It is normal! And it is liberating!

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Article written by Annelize Steyn