I was given the number ONE secret to a happy marriage--- and I couldn't believe it!!!

Over the last 2 years, I've photographed dozens of couples who were celebrating anniversaries. Some of them have even been married for DECADES! These couples would come to me and ask for a photo session while they were on vacation - a getaway to celebrate each other, and photos to document their love. How awesome right?!Being newly married myself, I wondered what sets these couples apart from the large percentage of marriages that end in divorce, or the couples who stay married unhappily. Surely, I thought there are tons of reasons. How could I ever understand? So I asked. When I began to inquire, and asked these happily married couples for their 'words of wisdom' or their 'secret to happiness' a few themes started to surface. Even more surprising, I noticed that one specific idea was repeated from many different age categories.  Young newly married couples with no children, couples with families, elderly retired empty nesters, they all echoed the same advice.

"Plan a getaway regularly for just the two of you to go away and reconnect." 

That was it. It seemed so simple. How could this really be the secret to long marriages, I wondered. But when I think about it, there is one thing I know to be true. Relationships, like anything else, require time and attention.I was once told that relationships are like muscles. If you want your muscles to be strong and healthy, you have to work out, you have to give your muscles the healthy proteins that feed them to grow, and you have to make fitness and health a priority in your life. Relationships require these same three things. 1. It's hard work. No one ever said that relationships were easy. They require compromise, they require patience, they require forgiveness. I certainly am not the relationship guru- or anything close to it, but I have been in a healthy and loving relationship long enough to know that it's hard, but totally WORTH IT. Aren't most things in life that are worth while hard work? 2. Give your relationship the things it needs to grow. When you know your partner's 'love language' this should be an easy thing to do. If you don't, the book 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman breaks it down very easily. It explains the 5 ways in which we can show and communicate our love. There is a simple quiz at the end of the book that you and your significant other can take together to identify each of your personal love languages. For example, some people like hand written notes and verbal 'I Love Yous' while others know how much you love them when you offer to do the dishes or wash their car! I know my husband and I both prefer spending quality time together to show our love. We schedule monthly 'coffee dates' to reconnect. 3. Lastly, make your relationship a priority in your life. This is what I hear and see when I photograph these couples. Despite their busy schedules, hectic work, children's activities, etc. etc. They still make it a priority to plan a getaway at least once/ year.Jamila and Paul, (in below photos) celebrated their 10 year anniversary this past Fall. WooHoo!!! They told me this:

"Our kids are at home. We got our parents to watch them for the weekend. We love to get away at least once a year for our anniversary so that we can reconnect. It gives us something exciting to look forward to and makes our marriage stronger!"