Over at The Happy Wives Club, Maggie Reyes has written a “manifesto” entitled “12 Ways to Make Your Love and Marriage Last.” In it, she lists some surprisingly simple (and some more challenging) tips for keeping the flame of love and romance alive. A few include:

1. Check in EVERYDAY. Asking “how was your day?” is the key to being part of your honey’s life. Don’t take that question for granted. Don’t grunt and say okay and move on to “what’s for dinner.” You married the love of your life so you could be with them every day right? Remember that.

2. There is no auto-pilot for love. Flirt. Kiss. Hug. Remember that you create your relationship with every text, every wink, every “good morning” and every “can’t wait to see you tonight after work.”  Never stop creating and you will never stop loving.

11. Let go of the idea of perfection. Expect marriage to be crooked and chipped and weathered. Expect it to grow and change and surprise you. Expect to be disappointed every once in a while. It happens. Nothing is wrong. That is life. Expecting perfection is the root of so much pain. Expect largely imperfect love instead. You can write your own love story and it can be beautiful, even if the curtains are dusty and the plates are chipped.

In this list, Reyes reminds us that love must be intentional, friendships outside of marriage help keep marriage alive, and often our cynicism about life blinds us to all the wonderful, inspiring marriages that are thriving all around us. “Years after getting married,” she writes, “I can honestly say that happy marriages are possible and all around us. And I want you to have one.”

Debra Fileta’s article “What We Sometimes Get Wrong About Marriage” on Crosswalk.com provides another important perspective on marriage.

“It makes sense that we love to talk about marriage. There’s nothing so profound and mysterious as this covenant relationship between a man and a woman, an earthly glimpse of the vast affection of the love of the Heavenly Bridegroom for his Bride. We love to talk about marriage, because we were made to talk about it, in the sense that we were made in the image of a God who designed us to love and be loved.

But within the buzz of all the chatter, we may have got something wrong. When all the smoke and lights of opinions and ideas begin to fade away, we’re left with the jolting reality that calls us to question what marriage really is. Because if marriage is what we say it is, why does its foundation sometimes seem so cracked? How do we explain the brokenness, the divorce rates, and the struggles we see all around us in real life?”

What are a few items on Debra’s list of things we get wrong about marriage? We don’t fully commit to the selflessness marriage requires, she admits. We refuse to take personal responsibility for our own baggage. And, something which has unfortunately led to scores of divorces between Bible-believing Christians, we assume the word “Christian” automatically means “compatible.” (Read the rest of her list here!)

So how’s your marriage looking? Have you found 12 ways to make your marriage last? Do you recognize things you sometimes get wrong about marriage? Relationship expert and Christian Clinical Psychologist Dr. David Hawkins suggests,

Enjoy every day together. If you are fortunate enough to be married to someone you love, you’re fortunate indeed. Don’t spend too much time focusing on the weaknesses in your marriage, but rather focus on the strengths. Find something about every day to celebrate. Reflect on what your mate has done that you appreciate, and hold those moments dear.”

Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor for Crosswalk.com

Publication date: January 29, 2014