We asked locals in long-term relationships—some same sex, some opposite sex—to provide advice on what makes their marriages work.
• Remember that change is the only constant. The person you marry will change over time, as will you. In time, the people who enter the marriage will become a different set of people. So the compatibility of the people who enter the marriage will need to change to a different compatibility over time. Honor the changes in your companion; honor the changes in yourself.
• Recognize your propensity to compete or to cave, and talk about that.
• Create daily rituals of celebration. Your time together, however long, will be all too brief.
• It's better to divide up house chores based on who most enjoys (or most loathes) doing specific tasks, rather than aiming for "everybody does every chore 50 percent of the time." You hate laundry, but your spouse doesn't mind it? Then they do the laundry! You do the dishes. Then, on those rare occasions where your spouse is exhausted and you DO pitch in on that chore you normally hate, you are a hero. A hero.
• If there's a big tense issue, but you're scared to talk about it‚ try talking about it in the car (while it's parked). It's weird, but there are psych studies that show people have an easier time talking through conflict if they're sitting side by side facing the same direction, rather than sitting directly across from each other. Plus you're both strapped into your seats.
• Know that love is not enough, a partnership is about working together as a team.
• Be kind. Treat your partner the way you want to be treated. When it comes up, confront them the way you would want to be confronted.
• Never, ever yell at or call your partner names in anger. Your partner isn't an asshole or a bitch—they're someone you love who is doing something that doesn't work for you. Talk about that and leave the name-calling/yelling out of it.
• Enjoy each other's company! That sounds kinda obvious, but it seems like a lot of couples forget about this one after a while.
• I've always thought Dan Savage's GGG guideline was spot-on: Be Good, Giving, and Game for your partner. From his Wikipedia page, "Think 'good in bed,' 'giving equal time and equal pleasure,' and 'game for anything—within reason.'"
• Go on regular dates! Even if it's just walking to Albina Press on SE Hawthorne and 50th every Saturday to read Savage Love out of the Mercury together. [Ahem.]
• Don't neglect your friendships! It's easy to disappear into the partnership cocoon (sex! Love! You're high on serotonin!), but make sure you spend regular quality hangouts with the other people you care about too; they keep you grounded and well balanced and can help keep your head on straight when you're drunk on love.
• Eat first, then talk. Terrible arguments are often the result of empty stomachs. Recognize when you're actually upset about something versus when you're just hangry.
• Keep a calendar. Use it. Make sure your schedules overlap once in a while, and not just for the 10 minutes you spend talking in bed before you fall asleep.
• Hold hands. Especially while driving, bicycling, walking, sleeping, waiting in line at Voodoo Doughnut with all the high school kids, or watching a movie.
• Accept flaws. My husband is never going to remember to take his Burt's Bees chapstick out of his pockets before I do the laundry, and I'm never going to close cupboard doors after I open them.
• Make something together. Art. Trouble. Machines. Adventure. Soup. Plans.