The secret to marriage never going stale.

A guest post by Jeff Goins.

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Many of us know Jeff Goins as the author of several books, or the speaker, or the writer for over 100 magazines and publications. And while I know him as all of these things, the reason I love Jeff is because I never walk away from a coffee with him without being challenged to see life differently.

He was recently kind enough to contribute a couple hundred words for the free eBook, Marriage Hacks. Hope his following thoughts on how to keep marriage fresh help!

Enter Jeff.

After a recent life-changing trip to Italy, I called my best friend to—well, let’s just be honest, I called to brag. We had traveled together during college, and I wanted to relive some of those memories with him, while sharing my latest experiences in Europe. After finishing telling him about the trip, he said the saddest thing I had heard in a long time.

“That sounds awesome,” he sighed. “I’d love to do something like that… in ten years.” “What?!” I said. “Ten *years*? Dude, are you kidding me?”

He went on to say a trip like that just wasn’t realistic. Not for him. Not now. It wasn’t financially feasible and not something he and his wife had time for. What’s more, they were expecting their second child and were spending most of their energy preparing for that transition. I asked him when was the last time they had gone a vacation, just the two of them.

“Oh, I dunno… probably a few years.” “A few years?!”

I had had enough.

“Do you remember what you told me right before I got married?”

Months before I got married, my friend gave me some important advice, something he had heard from a premarital counselor, I think. They were seven sage words that I will never forget—the secret, I’ve found, to a happy marriage:

Always have something to look forward to.

That’s it. That’s the secret. It sounds so simple and yet it can be the hardest part of a lifelong commitment.

Here are two reasons why it works.

First, it breaks the monotony.

Marriage begins with excitement, but as with any emotional high, it has its boring moments. Times when you wake up next to the love of your life and the morning breath gets the best of you. You may have vowed to experience the adventure of life together, but don’t be surprised when your story has a little taste of the mundane. That’s called life. However, this commitment can easily turn into begrudged obligation if you don’t have something disrupt the ordinary ongoings of matrimony.

Second, it gives you and your spouse a common goal.

When you have something that requires both of you to plan, you remember this is a partnership—something you agreed to do together. And when you might otherwise be distracted by your own weekly activities and forget to spend quality time together, this shared project can unite you. It’s something to talk about over dinner, something to text each other about in the middle of the day. A common goal, something to antici- pate, can bring you together in ways that the daily grind won’t.

So what should you look forward to?

It could be anything, really: a vacation, home improvement project, even an upcoming move. As long as it’s something you both enjoy doing, it qualifies and should do the trick of breaking up the monotony and bringing you two together.

That’s why I had to remind my friend of the best advice he’d given me, advice I had taken to heart since marrying my wife six years before. And it has saved my marriage a few times. A few months afterwards, not altogether surprisingly, my friend called me. He wanted to tell me about a recent trip he and his wife took to an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic.

“Man, thanks for talking me into that. I’ve never seen my wife so relaxed. It was just what we needed before starting a new job and having baby number two.”

My friend thanked me, but really I needed to thank him.

We all need little things to look forward to in life—small interruptions to our normal flow. Not because we have to escape from our lives, but so we can appreciate them. Because without the gift of looking forward, even the most wonderful relationships can grow stale.

Read the original post on Jeff’s blog here or download the free eBook, Marriage Hacks, along with 16,000 others.

  • Chris Carter

    Such great advice. You know what would really make you sad? Knowing that my husband and I will be celebrating our 14th and we haven’t done a thing since our first year of marriage…No trips. Nothing. With two sick kids to look after and failing jobs and finances… there was no way. Sad. I know. WAIT! We did take an over night at my friend’s cabin for our tenth! WOOHOO! Less than 24 hours, but hey- it was gooooood. ;)

    It will come. I’m sure of that. And God has poured His Love into our relationship through the gritty gaps through the years. We only get stronger, closer and more fulfilled each year. Hardships after hardship either pulls you away or closer to God, and ultimately each other. I am SO grateful ours is victorious in the latter.

  • Eg

    I got married this past weekend Aug 9, 2014 and we are in our honeymoon now. We have an amazing time together but it seems that we were always anticipating for something and that’s what really connected us. After the wedding we need to do just this “we need to look forward to next thing” but sometimes I have it in me just to chill and do nothing, don’t want to be lazy about planning things but at times you need those

  • Matthew Hendricks

    Man, that’s good stuff. Thank you. Not married, yet. Looking forward to it. Sounds wonderful.

  • emma

    What can me and my partner look forward to, we’re not married and do not live together yet, we go on holiday once a year but we are so organised that the planning and excitement it’s over before the week is out.

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