Johnny and Lara Fernandez know a thing or two about a successful union. In fact, they're doubly qualified to offer marriage tips: Not only are the Benicia, CA-based couple both relationship coaches, but they've been happily wed for 15 years. "Johnny is a true romantic and lets me know every day how much he loves me and cherishes our family," says Lara. Johnny appreciates the fact that he and Lara are united in so many ways. "From challenges to things we like, we are together, a team," he says. "The best days and the best experiences all begin with her. I always say Lara brought life to my life, and Isabelle, our daughter, brought meaning to my life."
To keep the Valentine's Day mood going well past the 14th, here are their sage marriage tips:
1. Have a "growth mind-set."
Be a lifelong learner. If both of you are willing to learn from your mistakes and the challenges in your relationship, you will thrive as individuals and as a couple.
2. Take good care of yourself.
You can't give from an empty cup. Keep up your self-care no matter what. This is especially important for women, who often give until depleted and then nobody's happy.
3. Let go of perfectionism—your partner isn't perfect, and neither are you.
In all relationships, both partners will make mistakes. Don't let perfectionism destroy what is overall a good, solid, loving relationship. Be kind to yourself and be kind to your sweetheart.
4. Say "appreciations" often before going to sleep.
Right before drifting off to sleep, share a few things that you appreciate about each other. (Three is a good number, but feel free to share more.) It could be something you did that day or a quality (like "I love how honest you are with me") you value. Focus on what you love and appreciate about each other and you will find more to love and appreciate.
5. Remember: Men want respect, and women want to be cherished.
Women: Be respectful and kind to your man and he will cherish you. Men: Cherish and be kind to your woman and she will respect you. Win-win!
6. Practice forgiveness—not just forgiving your spouse, but forgiving yourself.
We interviewed couples that had been happily married for more than 50 years. One of their secrets? Being willing to forgive. Practice forgiveness for your partner's mistakes and for your own. (See number 3, above.)
7. Never threaten divorce. That's the kiss of death.
Don't throw around the threat of divorce, even in the heat of an argument. Your marriage is too important and too sacred to threaten to end it over an argument.
8. Practice "the simmer" (and don't forget to "deliver").
You want to keep your relationship on simmer and then gradually and consistently bring it to a boil. What does that mean? It means flirt with your partner. Send each other sexy texts. Pat him on the butt when you pass him in the kitchen. Give her a long lingering kiss over the laundry. And then remember to let that simmer turn into a full-blown boil regularly. Enjoy yourself. Regular sex is important in your relationship for so many reasons.
9. Allow yourself to be vulnerable with each other.
Brené Brown said, "What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful." Opening your heart and sharing your tender places with your spouse creates real intimacy and connection. Always be willing to share your true, deep, scary feelings. This helps create a bond that will last. And ladies, please know that his vulnerability may look different than yours. That's okay.
10. Marry the right person.
After over 10 years of coaching women to do the inner work to prepare to find love, we've seen over and over again that the personal growth investments of time, energy and resources BEFORE you meet your future spouse have a return that is exponential. You have a higher chance of attracting a quality person who will stick by you when you have learned how your beliefs and behaviors create your circumstances. Your past does not have to equal your future!