I'm not a marriage counselor, and I don't have all the answers, but I have had people comment on my happy marriage in the past and wondered how we stay this way. This is in no means a bragging post, or a way to make myself look like a smarty-pants. It's a reminder to myself in a lot of ways.
1. Go on dates. GO! Even if it's nothing fancy or expensive, go out. It's especially important when you have kids. Our date nights rejuvenate us and remind us that we are the core of the family. No matter how much we love and focus on our kids, without a strong core, the family can't be fully strengthened. Some of our dates are "home dates" where we rent a movie and eat something fun at home, or play games, or whatever. Some dates are doubling with another couple. But the majority of them are just us. I've found that dates are so important. After all, you fell in love with each other through dating!
2. Have you ever thought, My husband just doesn't understand what it's like to be me? I think most everyone has thought this at some point or another. Regardless of whether you work, stay home with little ones, stay home alone, or stay home retired, we are all prone to feel like our lot in life is hard. My advice is to remember this - HE DOESN'T know what it's like to be you! He has no idea what it's like to be you. You are the only one who really gets that. But guess what? YOU have no idea what it's like to be HIM! It takes mutual respect and understanding. It's okay to tell him about your bad day, but it's not okay to be resentful of his good day or to compare "who has it worst."
3. Have a family night. One night a week, set aside strictly for the family. We do this with a song, prayer, lesson about the Savior, and then an activity. I feel like you can work together to make a great night. The kids will see it, and you will feel it.
4. Accept compliments. Even if you don't feel like you deserve it. Even if you're not wearing makeup. Even if you just have to smile and say, "Thanks" without feeling it. Just accept them. When you don't, it makes the other person feel uncomfortable. And guess what? Your husband really does think you look cute when you wake up looking like...that.
5. Find out what is important to the other person and then try to do it. It's not always feasible, but when it is, it means a lot. For instance, I know I'm way less stressed out when the house is clean, and Mike is the same way. When I can, I like for the house to be at least in some semblance of order and for dinner to be ready or almost ready when he gets home. It's not always possible. Sometimes the house is a disaster and at least 3 out of the 4 of us are crying when he gets home. But when it works out, it's great. Or buy his favorite cereal sometimes. Or kiss his cheek, just because. Little things add up to be big things.
6. Talk. Communicate. And do it kindly. Don't do it to try to start a fight. Talk about any and every little thing. Ask important questions. Ask silly questions. Just talk. You'll be amazed at what you learn about each other.
7. Listen. I've heard it said that the most important part of communication is the listening. Make your voice heard, of course, but listen to what the other person is really saying without trying to think of your response or basically of anything else. Sometimes it's not easy, and sometimes it's not possible. But really try to listen.
8. Don't talk bad about your spouse to anyone! (There are rare exceptions like if you are being abused or in a bad situation like that, of course) You will forgive your spouse, but your listener might not find it as easy to forgive and forget. Feeding off those negative feelings is one of the worst things you can do to a relationship. Don't give into the wives gossiping about their husbands! It's not worth it. Speak kindly of him.
9. Talk him up to your kids. At least once a day, the kids and I talk about what a swell guy their daddy is. It's true, so why shouldn't I help them remember that? After all, he doesn't get to spend as much time with them as he wants.
10. Be in love. Remember why you love your husband/wife. Be nice. Be respectful. Let him know when you need something from him. Let him know you appreciate his sacrifices. Don't ever let your marriage grow stale. Just LOVE each other.