By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.

Weddings are so joyous! The memories of such a marvelous moment will linger in the minds of most who witnessed it for a lifetime. The photos of the wedding will hang on the wall of their new home, be stored in the photo albums of many, and fill up digital space in their iPhoto collection on their computer hard-drive. For the majority of those getting married, the recall of this significant moment in their lives together will occur frequently and exist in their repertoire of positive reflections “Until death do us part.”

Getting married is, however, the easy part for most couples. Being married is when the difficult work begins. And all too often, married couples find it difficult to get beyond the wedding in their relationship with each other. When the luster of the fairy tale starts to wear off and the difficult part of making a marriage work begins, many newly married couples flounder – they stumble – and sometimes, they fall. But you know what, this can all be prevented if you just follow the five simple steps we have learned from successfully married couples over more than 32 years of research.

First a few overarching rules of marital engagement:

Rule number one – Knowing what makes marriage work is simple to understand.

Rule number two – You have to just do the simple things required to make marriage work.

Rule number three – Successful marriage is an accumulation of doing the simple things day in and day out of your marriage.

We tell newly married couples to commit these three simple rules to memory and to practice from Day 1 if they expect their marriage to succeed. Successful marriage follows only after these important rules are learned.

Now, you are ready for the five simple steps:

1. Commit yourselves after the Honeymoon is over to sit down together and share with each other what you want and expect from your marriage. Lay it all on the table. What are your collective and individual expectations for the marriage? How does each want to be treated by your spouse? Are there housekeeping issues that need to be addressed? What are the democratic values you bring to the marriage? Do you have plans for children and if so, when? What about your individual educational plans? Where do you want to call home now and in the foreseeable future? And the list goes on. The point is, issues like these must be addressed early in the marriage and they must be addressed directly. Questions cannot usually be answered if the questions are not asked. Issues cannot be dealt with if you don’t know what the issues are. And the truth is, Step 1 is the necessary first step in building a relationship of communication, give and take, truthfulness, and trust, so necessary to building a lasting love.

2. It is important early on in a marriage to commit each other to the “core values” you want in your marriage. For example, successfully married couples are committed to the notion that they always put their spouse first in their relationship with each other. Marriage is not a “me” experience. Marriage is a ”we” experience. Putting your needs before that of your partner is not a core value either of you should commit to. Rather, putting each other first lays the foundation upon which your new marriage can build. In addition, committing to caring and unconditional love for each other strengthens the foundation of your marriage. Being mutually responsible, trustworthy, and respectable towards each other adds to the fullness and richness of your relationship. Commitment to these core values will serve your marriage well over the years.

3. Recognize and accept the fact that good sex is not the heart of your marriage. This is the hardest lesson to learn after the honeymoon is over and the realities of everyday living in a marital relationship begin to take over. Sex can be a wonderful way to establish intimacy with the one you love. There is no debate about that. But on the other hand, if you set sexual expectations high on your list of things that will make your marriage fulfilling, you will quickly discover that sex alone will not make it so. Your marriage will make it for a whole bunch of reasons, but healthy sex is the only one of them. In our book, Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage, we report many first hand accounts from successfully married couples who report how important intimacy is to a loving marriage. They hug each other often, they kiss, they touch each other while talking, they sit cheek to cheek on the couch while having a conversation, they curl around each other when they sleep or just gaze at the stars, and yes, they have sex from time to time – when it’s right for them. Keep sexual intimacy in perspective in your marriage. Commit to that notion from Day 1.

4. Remember this important rule – actions speak louder than words! Early in your marriage you must commit to the simple truth that you will be judged by your actions and deeds, not by your words. When you commit to something with your words, your actions must follow. You cannot just talk about “sharing burdens” – you must actually share burdens. You cannot tell your spouse you love him or her while you treat him or her with disrespect. And, you cannot under any circumstances ignore the Golden Rule of life and of love – treat others as you would like them to treat you. In a successful marriage, you more often than not get what you give. Kindness, respect, the sharing of life’s burdens, and being a person of integrity will be reciprocated in ways that will add to the richness and fullness of your marriage.

5. And finally, all newlyweds must understand this very simple lesson – your marriage will not always be fair, just, and beautiful! All of the best marriages have gone through tough times. All marriages have their challenges. How you build the foundation of your marriage in the early stages will go a long way towards determining whether your marriage can weather the various storms that lie ahead. Trust us on this – your marriage will be challenged along the way. One of you will lose a job. A family member will get very ill. A child might die. One of you will be transferred to another job location. There will be times when you wonder whether you can make it to the next day of your life. Your marriage will be challenged in ways you never imagined. It happens. Expect it. The good news, all of the most successful marriages have survived the ups and downs, and yours can as well.

All marriages go through seasons - much like the seasons of nature. Marriage is born in the Spring, blossoms over the Summer, grows to maturity in the Fall, and settles in over the Winter. When we find true love, most of us find it for a lifetime. Those marriages and relationships that last over time started with the simple planting of a seed. The seed was nourished over time. Love grown with tender and loving care matures into fully-grown love that can withstand the tests of time.

We have learned a lot about what makes marriages work over these past 30 years. If you heed the advice of all those successfully married couples we have interviewed across the globe you will have a good chance of making your marriage work – of making it not only survive, but thrive. You’ve had a perfect wedding and now you have a glimpse of what can come next if only you will commit to these simple notions. Start today.

In love and marriage the simple things matter.

By Dr. Charles and Dr. Elizabeth Schmitz
America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts

Creating a successful marriage is not always the easiest thing to do. Your visiting our blog suggests you are highly interested in making your marriage work! And truthfully, we have learned over 30 years of marriage research that there are proven effective ways to ensure a happy and healthy marriage. In fact, we took hundreds of tips from the thousands of happy couples we interviewed and put them into our award-winning and bestselling book, Building a Love that Lasts .

**Today, you can see how you stack up to the best marriages around the world. Take the Marriage Quiz to assess your chances of achieving a successful marriage of your own and read How to Marry the Right Guy, to find out if your guy has the essential characteristics to be a great husband.

Author's Bio: 

As America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts and award-winning authors, Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz help international audiences answer questions about love, marriage and relationships. With over 30 years of research on love and successful marriage across seven continents of the world in 48 countries and their own 47-year marriage, the Doctors know what makes relationships work.

Get started with America's #1 Love and Marriage Experts by taking their Marriage Quiz or sending your questions to Ask the Doctors for Marriage Advice.

Additional Resources covering Marriage can be found at:

Website Directory for Marriage
Articles on Marriage
Products for Marriage
Discussion Board
Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz, the Official Guides To Marriage