Recently I started to reflect on my marriage and of the loving marriages I have been blessed to witness. I was interested in how they came to be, not about how each couple fell in love, but how they stay in love. More importantly I thought about the things they did throughout their marriages that kept them focused on the things that matter most, each other, and their families. So here are a few common themes I noticed.

Love Is Hard Work

Long after the wedding bells had sounded, the confetti had settled, and our honeymoon memories brought to wallpapers on our iPhones, my wife and I came to realize that like anything healthy and strong, our marriage was going to require certain elements to prosper.

We promised each other that time together would be a priority, that we would put in the effort to do things together even after a hard days work, and never take each other for granted. From experience that is where most relationships have failed, when one or both partners start to feel that love is automatic, that it is a given no matter what, that regardless of how they look or act things will be as they always were.

Believe me love is not automatic, it is triggered by the way you make your partner feel every second you are beside them, and every second you are gone, so if you want love to conquer all, put in the work.

Love Is All The Little Things

If anything it is the little rituals and habits you and your partner carry out daily that truly make the difference. The kiss in the morning before you head out to work, the random text message to let them know you are thinking of them, the walks on the beach, having hot chocolate together at the end of a long day to talk about things beyond your daily lives, and my personal favorite, hugging, not because you need it, just because.

Your relationship is a product of the rituals you and your partner devote yourselves to day in and day out, they are the little “I Love You’s” behind the words. They cost nothing but little moments of time, and they pay back with a lifetime of love and happiness.

Love Is Keeping The Spark Alive

Remember that first moment you knew that you were going to spend the rest of your lives together, remember your first kiss, the first I love you, your first night together. Hold on to those moments with everything you’ve got, because like everything in this world, no marriage is perfect.

There are beautiful times, and there are hard times, but when those hard times come it is the memories of why you fell in love in the first place that allow you to get past anything life has to throw at you. By remembering what brought you together, you put to rest the fear of being apart, so even in the darkest days, your memories rekindle the flame of love.

Love is many things to many people, but here is what it is not, love is not blind, if anything with love you see your partner clearly. Love does not conquer all, you and your partner do. Love will not find a way, you and your partner will.

What I am trying to say here is nothing in life and love is a given, love can never be on autopilot. It takes two people who absolutely adore each other, who make each other a priority, who stick to little rituals, and who always remind each other of how blessed they are to be together that allow their love to prosper.

Being in love is easy, but staying in love comes to those who have embraced the work that goes into their relationship, and love every second of it. It is you who keeps the love alive, and in return allow love to bring you to life. Love strong.