Marriage is not a destination. Anyone who tells you that it is supposed to be all sunshine and rainbows has been watching too many Disney movies. The fairy tale ending just does not exist. Too many times in our society people get married expecting things to be perfect. They expect their spouse, their soulmate, to change all of their bad habits overnight and spend all of their time with them. Honestly, that is not going to happen so please do not think it will. Nor should it.

That does not mean that marriage is the end of times. Far from it. Marriage is truly a journey. If you are willing to put forth the effort to keep that journey going, then you can have a wonderful marriage. Notice that did not say “perfect;” the only perfect marriage is the one you both are willing to work for.

If you are on the edge, if your marriage is a little rocky, know that you will get through it. Have faith in each other, and remember what brought you two together. That is the foundation for building the perfect marriage. Here are some tips you can focus on beyond that foundation to help you stay on the journey with the one you love.

It’s the Small Things

All of the small things add up. Just like how the little stresses in your life will build up until the burst out like a volcano, so too can the small things in your marriage. Leaving your shirt on the back of a chair everyday when you get home from work, not putting your plate in the sink; anything that causes your spouse to clean up after you can build up inside. One day you may find your significant other blowing their top when they’ve had enough.

Make a conscious effort to pick up after yourself. Don’t get into the habit of relying on the other one in the marriage to do it for you. And while you are at it, make sure you are sharing the housework. You both probably work, so why is one doing more than their fair share of the chores?

Even if your spouse works from home or takes care of the small children, they are still working; do not think otherwise. You both want to relax after a long day but stuff still has to get done. If you both take on the responsibilities then you can both relax that much sooner.

Communicate with One Another

The single most reason marriages fail is not because one spouse cheats or both end up hating each other. Those are symptoms of a greater problem, that problem being a breakdown in communication. Couples need to stay in constant communication with each other, telling each other their needs and their feelings.

Your spouse may be putting a lot of extra hours at work because of a major project. You begin to miss them. As the project carries on, you start to feel neglected. Resentment starts to set in. Tell them! Tell your husband or wife that you need some attention. It may require some effort and thought as to how to give your spouse the attention they need (and deserve), and you will probably be sacrificing some sleep or your lunch hour. Just do it! For both of you.

Do not be afraid to talk to each other. If you are afraid of upsetting your hard working spouse, or are too embarrassed to discuss things, don’t be. They are your best friend. They need to know these things to make you happy. They want to make you happy. Talk things over with them.

Show Them Your Appreciation

Often, as time goes on, we slack off in our relationships. It is hard to be vigilant every single day for extended periods of time. This will happen in your marriage. It is unavoidable. You are exhausted from work and simply go to sleep, forgetting to kiss the other good night. You will stop saying thank you when they place a meal on the table.

Again, little things add up. When they build up too much, your significant other may begin to feel neglected and underappreciated. Be aware in your marriage and recognize the fact that you have slacked off. Then take the initiative and start them back up.

Tell them “Thank you,” kiss them before falling asleep. Rub their back or give them a small peck on the cheek as you pass by. Anything you can do to show them you love them and really appreciate them, not just for what they do but for who they are. Let them know this everyday, as often as you can.

Doing so will not only improve their sense of worth in the marriage, but it will also create a stronger level of intimacy in the relationship. Not necessarily what happens behind closed doors, but more of the closeness between you two.

As a couple in a marriage, you will eventually lose a bit of that bond you two shared in the beginning. This happens as time progresses. To bring you closer again, do these simple little things mentioned above. That bond will be restored and the two of you will benefit from the reinvigorated closeness.

Share Some Activities

It is healthy to foster relationships outside of the marriage and to spend time with friends. Sometimes these are done together, such as game nights, or separately (nights out with the guys/girls). These are necessary; your only friendship cannot be your spouse. However, do not forget to take time out for activities as a couple.

These can be as elaborate as spending a week exploring the Australian Outback, or as simple as writing a blog together. Whatever the activity, make sure to do something that brings the two of you closer. This can improve the intimacy in the marriage as well.

Things may seem rough right now, but they will get better. Do not give up! Make your happily ever-going a reality.