This month, my husband and I will be together 7 years. We met in a café in Dublin, on a blind date. Internet dating was still a relatively new thing in Ireland and I was often warned (mostly by my mother) of the risks of meeting weirdos who hung out in dodgy online places.

This was not my first blind date.To be honest, I was a bit weary of dating at this stage. In fact, I had decided I was going to take a break for a while and didn’t even put on makeup or make an effort with an outfit. I wore a pair of combats, a vest and a pair of flip flops. Seriously low maintenance and #notthatbothered.

We’ve been together since. He sealed the deal by calling me the next day, as he promised he would (I know, groundbreaking). He’s continued to be a man of his word since then.

We’ve grown together, we’ve lost together. We’ve supported each other through every hurdle and heartbreak…and we’ve moved house more times than I care to count.

This week, I heard an item on the radio about the 7 Year Itch. I haven’t done any real digging into the research, but it would seem that divorce rates bear out the theory that after 7 years together, tensions rise to the point that most couples divorce. I don’t know about you, but I am choosing a different path.

Blog Post Couples fighting

I believe I get to make a conscious choice about my relationship with my husband. I also happen to think that anything that matters takes attention and effort, so the notion that true love should be easy is about as helpful as a trapdoor on a lifeboat.

No matter what challenges we’ve had to face, we have always had a choice about how to respond. We may not be in a position to control the circumstances (but then, who is?) but I believe we do get to control how we behave, how we engage with the people we love and how we perceive the world around us.

In celebration of our 7 years together, I want to share with you my 7 Steps to a Happy Marriage (even if I’m still a bit of a newbie!)

Take responsibility for your own happiness.

The cliche is right, happiness IS an inside job. If you expect your partner to make you happy, you are on a sure path to disappointment. In my wedding vows, I promised to strive to find happiness and fulfillment for myself, so that I could inspire the same in my husband. I take this stuff pretty seriously!

Tell the truth, tell it lovingly, even when it hurts.

That truth might be about your own feelings, your disappointments or behaviour that you’re not proud of. Keeping it in might seem to be the best option, but it never is.

Assume the best.

This comes down to the belief systems that you have – are those around you trying their best or are they in fact deliberately trying to piss you off? If you always assume your partner is doing the best they can, with whatever resources they have available to them, you will not automatically jump to the worst possible conclusion.

Maintain your sense of self.

Have fun with your friends, develop new hobbies and habits that are yours alone. This provides a support network beyond your close relationship with your partner and provides conversation topics too!

Get physical.

Hugs, kisses, love-making…it’s easy to let intimacy take a back seat, particularly if you’re in the middle of fertility treatment or simply have a hectic family or work life! Physical intimacy increases the hormone oxytocin, which encourages connection and the feeling of belonging.

If you have a therapist, schedule bi-annual relationship check-ups!

We began to have counseling before our fertility treatment began and I am a convert! Having a dedicated, safe space to talk and share is gold, to have that conversation facilitated by someone you trust is invaluable. Even if there are no problems, planning a regular check-up for your marriage is a declaration of it’s value to you…right?

Get off your devices.

Using a phone, laptop or any other electronic device shuts down conversation and disables connection with the person in front of you. This recent Ad from Durex gets the message across pretty well!

What do you think? Have you found these strategies to be helpful or do you have others you’d like to share? Hopefully this post has at least sparked a conversation…

I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions if you have them. Comment below and be sure to share this post with your online buddies.