Romance is exhilarating and wonderful--it's a key factor in falling in love--but that's not all that love is. That initial excitement can ebb and flow. It's hard to have that newlywed-giddiness for very long once life starts happening, but if your focus and concern is more for your spouse's well being, and less for your need to be wooed, then it's easy to love and serve them. You're less likely to say something offensive, or to take offense at something that your spouse might say if you're thinking of their happiness first.
Cameron and I have had disagreements, and we've had moments of hurt. There have been times when we have accidentally said or done things that upset the other, but we've always chosen to be kind and understanding in those moments. When we see that the other person is upset, we fight the natural inclination to get defensive and instead do what we can to comfort each other and find out what we did wrong and how we can do better in the future.
Common phrases in our day-to-day conversations are "How can I be a better husband/wife?" "What can I do for you?" and "How can I help you be happy today?" When the other person answers, we try hard to remember what they say and to do it. Putting our focus on the other person helps us to focus less on ourselves or our wants, and more on our spouse's needs.
If we have needs we make them known so that our spouse can help us fill them, but we try to do more for the other person. In doing this, we have pretty much eliminated any desire to fight or hurt each other emotionally.
This selfless love is what enables us to work through disagreements and misunderstandings peacefully and happily. Our marriage is not perfect--sometimes we make mistakes or get upset with each other; but because we value each other's happiness we let go of the little things and respectfully and carefully discuss things that shouldn't be ignored.
Another thing that helps us is prayer. We pray to be better spouses--to be understanding and loving and to be able to recognize each other's needs. We also pray for each other, both in our personal prayers and when we pray as a couple. Praying out loud for each other is very strengthening for our relationship. It is beneficial for the person speaking because as you thank God for the person you love, you think of all the reasons you do love them and your love is deepened. It also grows as you pray for God to help them with their problems and struggles. This helps you to feel compassion for them. Praying for your spouse at all will benefit them, but for them to hear your words of gratitude for them, and your pleas for help on their behalf can help them to see how much you love them, to realize that you listen and care about what they're going through, and can help soften their heart and love you even more.
Putting God first, and then our spouse's happiness and well being above our own is the best way that my husband and I have found for keeping our marriage happy and strong. Despite some hard life events, our love and marriage continue to grow stronger and deeper every day. I am so grateful for that!