Look beyond your wedding plans...what do you see? Hopefully, a blissfully happy future with your best friend in the world, including plenty of love, romance, hot nights (or mornings) and sweet nothings. But a successful marriage doesn’t just happen—it takes commitment, communication, and staying true to all of those promises you made in your wedding vows.
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The bright spot in your spouse's day? Coming home to you after a hectic workday, of course! You both probably spend the majority of your time working, managing the household, or dealing with other mundane (but necessary) tasks, so it's crucial to make each other laugh and enjoy life together. Be silly, crack inside jokes, plan adventurous dates, share each other's sporting or pop culture interests and try new activities (even if you're terrible at them). Also—this is very important—be fun when you're around his friends and family, too. A fun spouse lights up the room, reminding him how lucky he is to have you.
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Don't lose that sexy factor after the wedding; if anything, it's time to rev things up. Emerge from the bathroom in a corset, garter, thigh-highs, and stilettos when he least expects it, or cook breakfast in nothing but a t-shirt and racy panties. Surprising your husband with a visual treat adds spice to your marriage. (Grooms, this rule applies to you, too!).
Seduction isn't just about the lingerie—words can be equally effective to set the mood. Tell your spouse you want him now, or, on the way home from a family party, ask if he'd like a happy ending to the night. Touch each other often...a hand on the small of the back, a finger tracing a jawline, a squeeze on the bottom (while telling them how incredibly hot they are). Passion's the crux of every happy marriage, so this is one commandment you should abide by as often as possible.
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Sure, this isn't as much fun as buying new lingerie, but it's still a big rule. Honesty is all about trust, so as partners in this life that you're building, you must be 100% open about the financial decisions that you're making, especially during this scary economic period we are living in. There's no hiding purchases, stashing the bills, or dipping into the savings account, thinking he won't notice, because when he realizes (which he will, eventually), it could create a bigger problem. Money has tremendous power in your marriage and this is one of the top issues that lead to divorce. Create a budget together, split the bills, and skip the impulse buys if you don't have your own play money in your pocket, because if trust is broken, it's very hard to get it back.
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Make it a habit to thank each other and express gratitude as often as possible. Show your appreciation for all of the amazing things they do, no matter how big (acknowledging how hard they work) or small (taking out the trash, picking up some milk from the store). Tell him how glad you are that he proposed to you and how lucky you feel to be his wife. We all toil through our to-do lists, and if we don't hear some gratitude every once in a while, we may start to feel like we're being taken for granted, which can lead to resentment and petty fights ("It's always my job to empty the dishwasher!"). Prevent outbursts and sulky moods by making an effort to appreciate each other.
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No matter how tempting it is to confide in your mom or best friend every single time you have a marital problem, keep a lid on it, regardless of whether he actually said, "Don't tell anyone about this." Discretion is key when it comes to potentially embarrassing subjects—if your husband confides in you that he might lose his job, that's not something you want to put out there. The same holds true when the two of you have a big fight, because when you get over it, your friends and family might not. Keep those smaller confidences and trust between the two of you only, except in the most heinous of circumstances, such as addiction or abuse, when speaking up is a matter of safety.
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Many newlyweds are guilty of what I call "puppying," that madly-in-love tendency that makes you want to spend every minute with your spouse, stay in and watch movies instead of going out with friends, literally following him around the house when he gets home from work. I puppied my husband when we were first married, and it took a few weeks to snap out of it—this happens to many of us. You don't have to be joined at the hip, which is a sign of insecurity, not true love.
In order to have a fulfilling marriage, you and your spouse need to do things on your own: spend time with your own friends, enjoy your own hobbies and try new things on your own. When you keep your own life (and expand it), it makes you all the more interesting and multi-faceted, bringing a happier "you" into the partnership and giving both of you more to love about each other.
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Reality check: When you married him, you married his family, and he married yours as well. If you're lucky to join a happy, well-adjusted family, this is an easy commandment to keep. On the other hand, if you're sharing holidays  with new relatives who are critical, judgmental, or unwelcoming of you, this is going to be a major challenge. Even if every fiber of your being wants to scream at them and never visit during Thanksgiving again—your groom minimizes how nasty his sisters act towards you or ignores that his mom calls you "Her" as if you're not even in the room—you need to find a way to forgive, co-exist and work on building at least a cordial relationship with the more challenging members of his family.
Resist the temptation to tell him he's on his own or complain for weeks about catty insults they made, because even if his mom is a colossal jerk, your husband is never going to choose sides (not fully). And you wouldn't want to help her get rid of you by buying into the conflicts she tries to start. When you let them just float away, the in-laws become less of a factor in your marriage. Try to find common ground, compliment them when you can, and hopefully, your marriage will include happier times with the extended family, someday. Consider your baby steps towards that cordial relationship as a small price to pay to have a husband this wonderful.
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Every married couple argues (at least, the ones in healthy relationships do). If you never bicker, it just means someone is swallowing their feelings, which could come out later on...and it's going to get ugly. When you do fight, never bring up an old topic you've already covered and cleared up. For example: "This is just like when you went out with the guys after work, without telling me!" If there's some sliver of a similarity between that issue and this current one, why knock him over the head with it? That's the definition of a dirty fight, which you just don't do with someone you love and value. It can actually be quite abusive, since your spouse never knows when you're going to hammer him with some old resentment you've been carrying around. If you use hurtful reminders as weapons, just to win, your marriage will begin to disintegrate.
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It goes without saying that infidelity isn’t part of a happy marriage. Emotional cheating can be just as dangerous, like flirting with a co-worker and not caring if your spouse spots it at the office party. If you become more and more tempted by that hot guy at the gym who boosts your ego by how he smiles at you, that can present a danger to your marriage. If you need your ego stroked, let your husband be the one to do it by spicing up your sex life, flirting more, or trying counseling if you feel your relationship slipping away from you. Work on the marriage, work on yourself, but don't work on the cheap thrill of a flirtation outside your marriage—the cost is way too high.
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If you and your husband spend your first newlywed months in a sedentary haze, watching reality shows and eating junk food constantly, you're both going to hurt your health and self-esteem. Ten, fifteen, twenty extra pounds won't feel good on you, and if you don't feel attractive, the sparks can go out of your relationship. A healthy lifestyle gives you energy, boosts your spirits, and staves off depression, which can affect your sex life and make you crankier with one another. Work out on your own (and together), use those bridal shower kitchen appliances you received to make healthier meals, de-stress with yoga or massages and give each other the gift of a happier, healthier you. When you love yourself with great care, you can love each other more...and more often.