Over the past 20 years, my husband Mike and I have had the privilege of working with engaged and married couples. Not surprisingly, our own marriage has benefitted, and we thank our couples for genuinely sharing their relationships with us.

We've discovered that there are some daily habits intrinsic to long-lasting, loving marriages. Mike and I attempt to develop them in our marriage and enjoy sharing them with our couples.

Spouses in long-lasting, loving marriages:

•  practice self-care (if they didn't, they wouldn't have anything to bring to the marriage);

•  make sure their expectations match reality and don't compare their spouse to others;

•  anticipate that there will be difficult seasons in their lifelong marriage and are not blindsided when they occur;

•  don't ever consider or use the word divorce - it is simply not an option;

•  are intentional in their relationship with their spouse about what they say and do, because this relationship is the most important relationship in their lives;

•  take responsibility for their own happiness;

•  don't wait for their spouse to change, but take action by asking, "What can I do to make things better;"

•  are not led around by the world's view of marriage and are careful who they hang around with, where they hang around and what they do;

•  enjoy things together, but give each other space;

•  don't belittle or shame each other;

•  practice their faith and know this is the best defense against isolation;

•  don't think the grass will be greener on the other side;

•  set up boundaries (financial, social, situational and seasonal);

•  avoid situations that might jeopardize their marriage;

•  get counseling or help when they need it; and

•  greet each other with a kiss.

(Mrs. Bonanno lives in Colonie and attends St. Mary's parish in Albany.)