Marriage is a lifetime commitment, and while it'd be nice for the lovey-dovey feelings and happy fireworks to be present in your marriage at every moment, the reality is that life happens. All the ups and downs of it.

So while making a marriage strong shouldn't be draining and exhausting, a lasting marriage takes some work and effort to build.

Here are some practical tips and steps you can take to make your marriage a strong, joyful one. And you know what they say: a healthy marriage is the best thing you can give your family.

PS: You can also check out the Prevention and Relationship Education Programme (PREP), a marriage preparation programme for soon-to-be married couples or newly weds, for starting your marriage on the right foot.

1. Show appreciation clearly

After a long day of work, expressing your gratitude for what your spouse has done for you clearly in simple words like "Thank you for doing this" or "I truly appreciate what you've done" can sometimes mean the difference between a peaceful or tension-filled evening. It can also be occasionally taking up some of the tasks that your spouse usually does on your own volition, to let your actions speak your thanks. The strongest marriages are filled with mutual appreciation because both husband and wife are constantly reminded of each other’s strengths.

2. Support each other's growth and challenges

Your spouse, like you, will keep growing and even changing throughout the marriage. It's your role to be your spouse's Number One supporter in all these, whether it's being there for him when things are tough at work; or challenging him to develop new strengths and abilities. Your support can come in the form of emotional, physical or even mental support. As they say, the only constant is change, and supporting each other through changes in life is paramount to a strong marriage.

3. Connect through touch

Even if you’re not an openly physically affectionate person, it is important to stay connected to your spouse through physical touch. It may be a hug or holding hands; such little actions bring you closer together and even helps to de-escalate arguments by reducing tensions. This connection is key for a strong marriage.

4. Communicate honestly and respectfully 

Healthy communication is not only open, it's also respectful - and you must remember this when communicating with your spouse. Listening carefully is the foundation for respect, and do not impose your opinions if your spouse isn’t looking for it. After all, being honest but rude is extremely jarring and may lead to unnecessary arguments. 

5. Check-in daily 

This sounds so simple but it's actually very important and often forgotten: checking in with each other daily to find out about each other's days. It's a basic way to stay connected with each other and know what's going on in each other's lives, and an important step in prioritising each other in the midst of the busy-ness of each day.

6. Have fun!

Having fun as a couple isn’t just for the young ‘uns, it’s important to continue to make enjoyable memories together, no matter whether you’ve been married for 1, 5, 10, or 20 years. If it feels like ages since you felt like you had fun together, start by thinking back to the early years of your relationship–what did you enjoy doing as a couple? Go on dates without the kids, and do things you both enjoy.