Getting married is easy but making sure that your marriage is a happy one is quite a challenge. Any marriage needs to be properly maintained in order to remain a healthy one that is satisfying to both parties. It’s crucial that both parties have their needs met, because that’s the key to a good relationship. Sometimes, it’s the little things that matter the most, like effective communication, affirming the other party, indulging in fun activities together, a healthy sex life and being sensitive to each other’s feelings. Many men tend to overlook some of the most basic things in a relationship, not knowing that they are the key to a successful marriage.

Clinical psychologist Talita Da Costa shares five ways to sustain a healthy and happy marriage:

1. Communicate. This is the most important aspect of any successful marriage. Communication should be completely open, honest and precise. Couples need to be able to communicate positive or negative feelings without feeling fearful, as assumptions may lead to misunderstandings and misconceptions.

2. Spend quality time together. Spending time together is not about the quantity of time but rather the quality of time that couples spend together. It is vital that couples spend 30 minutes a day of uninterrupted time to communicate, touch or do an activity together, as this builds connection and closeness. The key is to ensure that you are present, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually for your spouse to the exclusion of all other distractions such as cellphones.

3. Get intimate. Verbal and non-verbal communication are both equally important. Touch is vital in bonding and connecting. Touch is a primitive desire for love, attention and connection. Sex in a marriage is a bond, a love language between spouses. However, intimacy is not only about sex but also physical touch, such as holding hands, kissing, cuddling, etc.

4. Respect individual time and interests. As much as couples become one and share many things together, it is also important to respect your spouse’s “me time” and differences in terms of interests and social networks.

5. Express gratitude: Acknowledging your spouse is vitally important, because they feel appreciated, wanted, needed and respected. Always remember to say “thank you” for things your spouse does, irrespective of how small or big the act may seem. Expressing gratitude to your spouse goes a long way in bringing positivity to your relationship.