Here are generalities for both husbands and wives:
1. Don't sweat the small stuff. It doesn't matter. It really doesn't matter. Recently I have been saddened to hear of people my age or slightly older passing away and leaving spouses and children. The little tiff you might have had, or the grudge you are holding because "I'll show them!", WILL NOT MATTER if the Lord decides to take your spouse home. Of course, we can't be thinking about death all the time, but we CAN be aware that no one is guaranteed tomorrow, and treat your spouse and family accordingly.
2. Don't treat strangers better than you treat your spouse. This is a biggie. In the course of a day don't you smile at strangers? Talk politely to them? Hold doors open? Say please and thank you? Then why do we treat the very ones we love the most with less respect? The stranger you might have smiled at and said a kind word to may or may not remember you next week; your spouse and children have nothing BUT memories of you. Make them count.
3. Try to start the day with a smile for your spouse. I learned this the hard way. I am NOT a morning person. Well, at least not until I've had the equivalent of a pot of coffee. I have found that the mood you get out of bed in is generally going to set the tone for the whole family for the rest of the day. Keep that in mind if you wake up grumpy and snapping at everyone. I may not feel like smiling, but I do it anyway because I sure don't want to ruin the rest of my day or anyone else's.
4. Make the extra effort. Whatever it might be. Do you see that your spouse just finished their drink/snack/whatever? Make the extra effort to notice and offer to get a refill or something for them. Do you see your spouse having difficulty doing something but you're comfy in your chair? Get up and help anyway. You'll be glad you did, and so will your spouse. Does your spouse like a particular food but you don't? Prepare it anyway. It matters.
5. SAY IT! Did your spouse do or say something that you liked? Tell them so. Are you thinking a nice thought about your spouse for whatever reason? Tell them so. Kind words are so easy to say, especially when they're sincere, and yet we can be so stingy with them. If you feel it (and it's a good thought - not a bad one!) then SAY IT.
Here are specifics FOR WIVES ONLY - *WARNING* - This may be uncomfortable for some or TMI (Too Much Information) for others, but I firmly believe these are necessary for a solid and happy marriage.
1. Never say no. Ladies, you know what I'm talking about. S*x to a man is much more than that. It is stress relief, comfort, an all-around, good-for-whatever-ails-ya kind of thing. Be glad your husband is turning to you to meet that need. This doesn't mean be a cold fish and just give in, either. Have fun yourself!
2. Never complain about your husband to others. Yes, you may have a gripe that you feel you need to share with someone, but don't do it. It's disrespectful to your husband and your words could come back to haunt you if your friendship with the person with whom you shared your complaint ever soured. Besides, you wouldn't want your husband talking badly about you to his friends, would you?
3. Meet your husband at the door when he comes home. This is so simple, but makes such a difference. It lets your husband know that you are glad he is home and that he is more important at that moment than anything else you may have had going on right then.
4. To go with #3, say goodbye to your husband at the door when he leaves. DON'T stay in your warm bed in the morning when he leaves! Get up and say goodbye to him. If you want to go back to bed afterwards, then do so, but don't let him leave without a smile and a hug from you. Between #3 and 4, YOURS will be the last loving face he sees as he leaves, and the first loving face he sees upon his return.
5. Put him first. Always. Before the children, before the house, before your job. The children will eventually grow up. Your house is not going anywhere. You will eventually retire from your job. You were a wife first, and you will be a wife last, with all the other things in the middle. Make sure the ending will be as special as the beginning.
6. Don't be afraid of the word submission. Wait - don't throw rotten tomatoes at me yet - let me explain. That word used to scare me. I knew that as a Christian wife I was supposed to submit to my husband. That's what the Bible says, and it's what we wives were created for. But I fought that one kicking and screaming. I thought that I would be taken advantage of. I thought that I would be used and disrespected. The word "doormat" came to mind. Well, I am here to tell you that NONE of those things happened. As always, God's word is true and He really does know what is best for us. What happened instead was that my husband began to actually treat me better than he ever had. The more I gave, the more I received. I began to feel treasured - not taken advantage of by any means. If you don't believe me on this, I challenge you to try it. If your marriage isn't all that happy, then you have nothing to lose. On the contrary - you have much to gain.
Now, before you think I've been living in a fantasy world for 26 years, let me assure you that this marriage has had more ups and downs than a rollercoaster but the important thing is that we started this ride together, and we will end it together. Divorce should never be an option*. Working through obstacles is always tough, but in the end you'll be glad you did. Just like trees that grow deeper roots in order to survive where there is a lot of wind, your marriage will grow stronger and deeper by weathering together the winds that twist and turn you.
*Please note that I am NOT referring here to an abusive situation. If there is physical or any other type of abuse going on in your marriage, you need to get help for yourself and/or your children.