How to Stay in Love for Thirty Years:

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While Selene and I were in NYC celebrating our anniversary, many people acted surprised that two people can still be in love after 30 years. A few asked us what the secret was. I could make a longer list, but here are a dozen keys I jotted down during our return flight:

1. Commitment. Take the vows seriously. Marriage is a covenant not just a contract. It is a covenant–not just between two people but with God. Rule out divorce and then never use the "D" word as a threat or possible solution (even if you don't mean it).

2. Priority. Put spouse ahead of all other human relationships-parents, siblings, friends…and kids! Be attentive to your spouse’s needs, dreams and aspirations. Don't discuss the private details of your relationship with others (unless it is a professional counselor).

3. Communication. Lots of talking and more listening. Every day. Debrief the day–highs and lows. Know and feel each other's emotions. Care. Talk respectful and kind. Never use profanity or degrading language.

4. Conflict Resolution. Take initiative when feelings are hurt. Try to be the first to apologize even if you don't feel you are in the wrong. Forgive and forget. Don't hold grudges or bring up the past when it is resolved. Don't go to bed mad. Make that promise to each other and keep it!

5. Time Together. Quality and quantity. Some time every day. Plan and protect a weekly date night (or date day). Make it fun, something to look forward to. You can't become best friends if you don't spend your best time hanging out together. Plan periodic romantic getaways alone together. Play!

6. Be Affectionate. Hug and kiss daily. Hold hands in public. Call, text, email through the day and say "I love you" over and over every day.

7. Make Decisions Together. Trust each other to make small decisions alone, but if in doubt, or if it is a big decision, make decisions together. Work together on a family budget and support each other.

8. Compromise. Be unselfish. Learn to enjoy what your spouse enjoys (or at least try).

9. Be Realistic. Don't expect your spouse to meet all your needs or want to be involved in all the same things you enjoy. You need same sex friends to talk to and do things with.

10. Guard Your Relationship. Don't flirt or be alone with members of the opposite sex. Don't be close friends with someone of the opposite sex unless it is as couples.

11. Focus on the Positive. You can talk yourself into or out of most anything. Practice thinking positively about your spouse. Remember what first attracted you. Focus on what you like. Ignore what you don't like (unless it something hurtful that can be changed). Believe in and build each other up and you will both become better people as a result. Never comment on something you don't like that can't be changed (i.e., physical appearance).

12. Put God First. Worship and pray together. Don't keep your walk with the Lord private. Share. As you both get closer to him you also get closer to each other. When tough times come push together and let it grow you faith in God and love for each other.


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