By Dr. Patricia Knott

I love weddings; large weddings, small weddings, it does not matter. I love the beautiful decorations, the lovely clothes, and the music. Most of all I love the romance and the sense of hope, love, and life-long commitment that is in the air at these events.
We all wish the happy couple well and pray that they will always be as happy in years to come as they are on their wedding day. They make promises to love and cherish each other always. I am sure they all have good intentions of living "happily ever after" together, but how do they actually make that happen?
We know that we have to work at keeping our bodies healthy, but we don't seem to think the same about our relationships. The truth of the matter is, just as it takes work to maintain healthy bodies, it takes just as much effort, if not more, to maintain a healthy marriage relationship. It doesn't just happen because of wishful thinking or the blush of young love or good intentions.
A popular book published some years ago speaks of women being from Venus and men from Mars, which brings us to one of the first steps toward preventative health care in the marriage-remember that men and women are not the same. Women like details. Men like to get to the point. Women like to window shop and browse while men shop with a hunter mentality going straight for the kill. If you enter marriage recognizing this major difference between the two of you, you will avoid a huge amount of misunderstanding. Next time he prefers to watch Rambo instead of Titanic, don't automatically head for the marriage counselor.
A few other considerations can keep the matrimonial bond stable:
Be aware that the giddy, heart racing, over-the-top emotions of new love are temporary. These feelings will mature into something stronger and deeper and quite fulfilling. It will be this transition that will enable your marriage to survive the many trials of life and, with each trial, strengthen the bond.
You should find common interests to share with one another. The time spent together will draw you closer. Your partner can become your best friend. Be open to new forms of entertainment your spouse may wish to share with you. Even running errands together can be time well-spent with each other.
Allow one another some space. Everyone wants some alone time every once in a while. It is no different when it comes to your spouse. Having some different activities can give you more to talk about. Just don't allow the separate activities to take over the relationship.
You are a team. Your differences can make you a formidable pair. Discuss your differences and where they can best be used in your relationship. Who is best at managing a budget? Two people who respect each others' strengths can hopefully come to a workable solution in any area of their life together.
Communicate with one another. Make your partner feel safe enough to share his feelings and concerns. Even when you disagree, respect each others' opinions. When you argue, fight fair. Put away terms like "You always" or "You never" and replace them with "I feel" or "I think what you are saying isâ¦"
Keep a sense of humor.
Respect one another.
The best preventative care for the marriage relationship is to choose well from the beginning. This comes easy for some, maybe because of an excellent model before them growing up. Others may require relationship counseling beforehand. There are many books on the market about marriage and dating. Your pastor may be a good resource to turn to.
If you are taking the step into wedded bliss, plan how you will keep your relationship healthy. A good place to start is to recognize that no one person is perfect and there is no perfect marriage. You, your spouse, and your marriage are works in progress.