I can, however, speak for myself and my marriage (only 7 years. We still have MUCH to learn!) and share what has worked for us.
1. Choose wisely.
This is probably the most important part of it all. If you're not crazy in love (not in lust) about the person to begin with, it's gonna be a lot more work to muster up that love for them later on. But it's not impossible so don't give up.
You cannot just get married because you feel pressure like it's time, you cannot marry someone that you don't have a peace about or hope that _____ will change about them after you get married. Nobody's forcing you (at least I hope not) to marry anybody. You get to choose who you marry, so choose wisely. Judge a potential spouse on their character, their heart.
2. Lay your life down for one another.
I could end it all there, but I'll explain.
In any argument, in daily situations, etc. when Kevin and I choose to lay our life down for each other - awesomeness happens. I know he loves me and he knows I love him by our actions and our attitudes.
We have to ask ourselves - What is the point of having to be right?
Good for you, you're right. Ok. You won that arguement. Feeling happy? No? Why? Because now, even though you're standing on your "right" victory podium...you're all alone. There's no unity between you and your spouse. Step down and humble yourself and go to your spouse and say "I'm sorry" or "I think I understand what you're trying to say" or "I'm on your side. I really want to see what you're talking about. Will you explain it to me again?" When this is the LAST THING YOU WANT TO DO...is when you need to do it the very most.
Nothing is worth letting walls be built up and lies be painted as truths.
And when you tear down your wall, it opens things up for your spouse to stop building theirs as well.
Always be the first to let go - don't have the "THEY should apologize to ME" attitude.
Humility and forgiveness is a beautiful thing, and an integral part of marriage.
3. Fight for unity.
Marriage is two separate people coming together and becoming One. That's huge. Yahweh designed marriage and sex so specifically, it's really amazing. He calls the body of Christ His bride and says He is our groom. Hello. That's a huge sign for how our marriages need to work and look.
4. Be respectful.
Wives, we have no idea the power our words have over our families, and especially our husbands. If we tear down and mock, thinking guys are tough and they can take it because they just aren't as sensitive as us - then we are dead wrong. In my experience, men are more sensitive than women, they are just less emotional. Our words must be ones of edification, respect, honor, love, humility, encouragement. For our spouses, for ourselves, and for our little ones watching the husband-wife dynamic in the home.
5. Selfishness must die.
This one is on the forefront of my mind and heart right now. I realize how very selfish I am, how very self-centered our culture makes us. It's all about yourself. Look better, feel better, you need YOU time, etc and those things are fine to a degree, but it's all so very repulsive and makes me a person that I don't want to be. I want to be a serving person with a happy heart and attitude. I don't want to be disappointed at Kevin because he didn't read my mind and pet me and console me because I had to be a mother today. In that instance, I'm thinking only of myself and how hard my day was and miffed at him for not just sensing that.
What if, instead, I asked him how his day was and encouraged him? Guess what - 99.9999999% of the time he then turns to me and gives me the validation I need as his wife and mother of our children.
The real issue here is that we must go deeper in knowing Christ, and gaining such sure, deep identity in Him that nothing can shake us and we aren't looking to people (even our spouses) to fill voids that only the Holy Spirit can fill. When we know and serve Christ and love and serve others....our own desires and petty needs grow dimmer and dimmer. And life gets sweeter.
6. Pray together.
Out loud, every day. It's so amazing to get to be on the same page spiritually. Praying together opens up so many avenues to breakthrough together and individually. Pray for each other, speak over one another out loud, lay hands on your spouse's head when you see they are worried and just pray peace and rest in Christ. It builds trust and creates the most amazing spiritual and natural bond. There is nothing I find more attractive in Kevin than the fact that He leads this family by dwelling in the presence of the Holy Spirit. The more you feed that - the more it will grow and become stronger.
Now go kiss your husband or send him and mid-day text with love:)