The best piece of marriage advice I’ve ever received was from my 70 year old grandmother. Soon after I got married, she took me aside and told me that in order to make my marriage last, I must be sure to greet my husband at the door after work wearing a fresh coat of lipstick and high heels. Her thoughts were that after a hard day of work, my hubby deserved to see a pretty, smiling face.

My mother-in-law (a woman of the same generation as my grandmother) tried to educate me about marriage in this same vein. She was staying at our house shortly after our wedding and when my husband came home from work she turned to me and asked, “What will he have to drink?’ I was confused at first, thinking to myself “How should I know?” Every day she asked me the same question and finally I got the gist of what she was trying to tell me. She was suggesting that I should greet him after a long day’s work with his favorite drink. As old fashioned as these two lessons seem, they have actually done the most for my happy marriage.

Now before you get the wrong idea, let me be clear–I have been married for 23 years and I have yet to greet my husband at the door wearing bright lipstick, high heels, or offering him a dry martini. Nevertheless, following the idea behind these pieces of advice has served me extremely well over the years.

I’m sure many of you are thinking, “It’s a new day! Women aren’t supposed to serve their husbands anymore!” While I agree, I do believe my grandmother and mother-in-law were onto something when giving me this advice. I think what they were trying to convey is the importance of putting in the effort. The effort to make your husband’s day a little brighter, the effort to show your love for him, and the effort to prove your commitment to your marriage is still as strong as on day one.

As a mom of three, I know how easy it is to put all my focus and energy on my kids and have nothing left for my husband at the end of the day. When my kids were small, I gave everything I had to them. It was my job and I was good at it. Sweatpants and a messy ponytail were comfortable and simple to wear on those days when the kids needs, dishes and laundry seemed endless. Chicken nuggets and frozen french fries were a staple because they were quick to prepare after a long day of playdates and ferrying kids around to activities. Most nights I fell asleep while reading the kids their goodnight stories.Some days it felt like there was just no more effort to give. But, I kept the wise words of my grandmother and mother-in-law in the front of my mind. Lipstick and high heels? No way! But I realized there were little things I could do to show effort  that would keep our marriage fresh and happy.

It was the “I love you!” sticky note that I put in with his lunch, or the piece of Dove chocolate that I slipped into his coat pocket. It was the mid-afternoon phone call to just say “Hi” or the fresh flowers I would display on the dinner table. Just the tiniest of gestures to let him know that I cared and was thinking of him, too–in addition to the children. It was the hug I gave him as he left for work in the morning and when he returned home in the evening. It was remembering to buy his favorite drink or snack while at the grocery. Small things to let him know that he was important to me. These trivial gestures took virtually no effort at all yet they have made all the difference.

Dr. Jennifer Pinto

Jennifer Pinto is an avid reader, writer, psychologist and mom to a daughter(20) and two sons (16 & 14). She has been married to her husband for 21 years. She is currently writing a young adult novel and has a psychology-themed blog called "Off the Couch..." She enjoys drinking coffee at all hours of the day, cooking Indian food and being the team mom for her son's tennis & football teams.