When we interviewed couples who have been happily married more than 20 years for our book “10 Best Decisions a Couple Can Make,” we noticed that it was often just a few simple choices that keep love alive in a marriage. Here are some of the little things you can do to make sure romance is still a part of your lives, even decades into your marriage.

Say Good Morning

According to one study, 94 percent of couple who say good morning rate their relationship as excellent. Start your day with a hug, a kiss and a prayer. Go a step further and enjoy a cup of coffee and some conversation.

We have observed that all the happily married couples we know are thoughtful and kind to each other. They apply the Golden rule Christ laid out: “Treat others as you want to be treated.” (Matthew 7:12) If you begin your day with small expressions of love and affection, you will more likely end your day with more passionate expressions of love and affection.

Establish A Weekly Date Night

Successful couples make time for each other. Dating your mate each week doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. We offer a list of “Recession Romance” ideas, and our friends, Jill and Mark Savage offer a weekly date sent straight to your email inbox. Happy couples seem to be just as happy enjoying a quiet evening cozied up by the fire as putting on the ritz.

But do not mistake the comfort and casual attitude as apathy, because successful couples also look for ways to celebrate their love. They honor each other with dates for birthdays, promotions and special memories like day they first met, they day they got engaged and their wedding anniversary. Loving couples create traditions that bring them closer together.

Make Romantic Rituals

It is the little things that keep the spark: a kiss when you say “hello” and “goodbye”; saying “I love you” before you hang up the phone; bringing home little gifts after being away on a trip. Our romantic ritual is to say grace before each meal then kiss. It is hard to stay mad at someone you kiss all day!

Other couples dance while waiting for the elevator, walk hand in hand or post love notes each day. My grandparents were happily married more than 60 years, and their love was “two-stepped” together with their daily kitchen waltz.

Listen, Then Respond

Best-selling motivational author Steven Covey says, “Seek first to understand, then seek to be understood.” James 1:19 encourages, “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”

You are less likely to argue if you listen with your heart first before reacting. We encourage couples to apply Phil 1:7: “It is right that I feel this way about you because I have you in my heart.” Carry your mate in your heart, and give him or her the benefit of the doubt.

Love doesn’t always have to be grand gestures, romantic getaways and lavish gifts. Most of the time, it will be about the small moments you share as a couple, so make sure to incorporate little layers of love into your marriage to keep that spark burning through the years.

You may also be interested in How To Create More Intimacy In Your Marriage

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