You can’t go into a marriage thinking everything is going to go exactly the way it did when you guys were dating or even engaged. You can’t even expect the honeymoon period to last too long; that’s unrealistic. A marriage is a full time job. Yes, that means 9 times out of 10, there are couples with 3 full time jobs: the one they get paid for, a spouse, and a parent. This is a huge commitment, and not for the weak at heart. It’s so easy for things to become routine at one of your jobs, and if things become routine, you run the risk of being bored, and not putting forth your best effort. You hear people always say “keep the flame alive” but what does that mean? It can mean a lot of things, but in the case of your marriage, this is what I think it means:

F is for family. You’ve all heard the saying “blood is thicker than water”, and while scientifically this is correct, the hidden meaning is true as well. Your family is going to be there for you when other people won’t be. This includes friends and colleagues. There are some families that will truly ride or die for you. You don’t get to choose your family (for the most part), but they’re yours, and you should love them all the same. What does this have to do with marriage? Well, you get an extended family when you get married. In-laws get a bad reputation, but you can blessed like me and have an amazing set of in-laws. Utilize them as an additional resource for support. More times than not, they’ll be more than willing to help you out. Keep those family bonds strong. Your marriage can benefit from it.

L is for laughter. It warms my heart when I hear people say what attracted them to their spouse is their sense of humor. Laughter truly is one of the best medicines around. I learned in school that it takes more muscles in your face to frown than it does to smile. Laughing makes things easier, breaks tension, and can relax you. When you can learn to laugh with your spouse and not at them, your relationship can benefit greatly. When hubby and I get into it, things are always tense in the house. How do we get back to normal? Finding something to laugh about. The other night, we had a ball just laughing with each other. It felt great. Need some help with laughing? Find a great comedy or even reminisce.

A is for attraction. This is what most people think about when they hear “keep the flame alive”. So many people, myself included, don’t maintain their appearance that they once had when they were dating their spouse. At first, it was all about impressing them. Now that you’re married, what is there to impress, right? Wrong. Not to say it’s a justified reason, but one of the biggest reasons people have affairs is because they’re no longer attracted to their spouse. If you’ve gained some extra pounds, and you’re not happy with it, your spouse can sense that. Stay in shape. Look presentable with your clothes (sweats and ponytails are only attractive in the beginning ladies, and not when there’s baby food on them). Keep spraying those perfumes and colognes. This is hubby & my favorite thing. I love the way he smells, and likewise with him for me. Continue to be attractive to your spouse.

M is for money. Remember “for richer or for poorer”? Yeah, that’s a vow that’s a struggle for all of us. It’s easier to give up when the chips are down. What’s the solution? Have a plan. So many couples go into marriage without having a money management plan. Lots of them hold individual debt which then becomes joint debt. Work out a budget, see what you can and can’t afford, set priorities and boundaries, then set your goals. What do you two want to save up for? Maybe an annual vacation can be part of your plans. Make sure you guys have your financial house together throughout your marriage. You plan on retiring together, right? Well then plan for retirement together.

E is for education. A lot of people think learning stops when you’re out of school, and they couldn’t be more wrong. The best lessons I learned was outside of the classroom. You can truly learn something new everyday, and you should seek that. No, I’m not telling you to keep going through math when you hated it in high school. I’m not telling you to physically go back to school (unless you want to). Learn things about each other. “Well I know my spouse like the back of my hand!” Admittedly, I don’t know the back of my hand all that well, so Lord knows I don’t know my husband like that. Make it a point to learn something about each other. Do you truly know everything? Make a game of it and see who knows who better. I also suggest reading some marriage books together and discuss them.

So there’s plenty of ways to keep the flame alive. People get bored with their spouse because they go through some of these things so quickly. Others get bored because they don’t take the time to go through these things. There’s plenty to keep you occupied and entertained.

How are you keeping the FLAME alive in your marriage?

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