THE BLOG
03/31/2014 08:55 EDT | Updated 05/31/2014 05:59 EDT

16 Rules For a Happy Marriage

"In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." At this point in my life, this is one of my favorite quotes. To me, it means that I offer to you my pearls of wisdom at a time that statistics show an alarming rate of divorce worldwide.

I, the one that is now divorced is telling you, the married ones, or the ones that are embarking on the journey to marital bliss, what I believe is the key to a strong and happy marriage.

You might say this is a classic case of the blind leading the blind. What I offer you here are pearls of wisdom after 15 years of marriage and seven years of being a divorced single parent. Had I known then what I know now, perhaps my happily ever after would have happened the first time around. I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. With that, I find comfort in knowing that the next time, it will be forever.

Until then, heed the following:

1. Never stop falling in love with each other - The same quirks, jokes and antics that made you laugh before you got married, should continue to make you laugh days, weeks, months and years later. Embrace the uniqueness that set him/her apart from others and appreciate it every day.

2. Respect the differences - You don't have to agree with everything all the time. You do have to respect that you will both have differing views and opinions about many things in life. Respect that, understand the point of view and appreciate the fact that the other person sees things differently. Your view is your view and it's not necessarily your place to determine if it's the right or wrong view just because you don't see things as they do.

3. Acceptance - Accept the person you fell in love with. All too often, we fall in love with the fantasy of what we want this person to be. The reality of that matter is that this person exists only within our delusions. The person you love is who they are, not who you fantasized them to be.

4. Expectation - Remember, our ideals of what love is, are based a lot on fairy tales, movies, media and fantasy. Just because a person doesn't fall within the expectations of what we perceive to be the "perfect" love, does not mean that they are not in fact OUR perfect love. Be realistic in your expectations.

5. Encourage individuality - It's OK to have different interests and passions from your partner. Encourage them to develop and nurture that passion.

6. Grow together - Identify and embrace the things that you both like and are passionate about. Spend time building upon those.

7. Don't give up on your love or each other - Love each other enough to want to pull the other out of the ever so often "I don't love you" slump.

8. Trust, Transparency and Honesty - Trust one another. Be completely transparent and honest with each other. You need to know eachother's good, bad and ugly -- accept it and be ready to forgive, encourage and help them.

9. Appreciate and acknowledge each other - It's not enough to guess or assume. Tell her you love her. Tell him you miss him. Show it, say it. Don't assume it.

10. Be compassionate and empathetic - We all have bad days. Step into your partner's shoes for a moment and feel what they're feeling. Be empathetic, not judgmental or defensive.

11. Keep each other grounded - It's great to dream, but keep it real. Be straight forward. Don't lead them on.

12. Laugh together - A lot! Don't lose the edge that kept you giggling. Life is too short to not enjoy every moment of it. Make memories, tickle each other, watch a funny movie, run across the lawn on a hot summer day with sprinklers on full blast. Do things that will make you laugh so much that your sides hurt!

13. Baggage - Be ready to set your own baggage aside and help them unpack theirs, as they will yours.

14. Kiss and make up - We all have disagreements. The important thing is to realize that it's OK to have a difference of opinion. That does not and should not dilute the way we feel for a person. Talk through your differences and make a conscientious effort to understand the other's point of view. At the end of the day, remember that your love is not dependent on differing opinions, rather on the respect for the other to be able to have that differing opinion.

15. Be the couple others dream of becoming - Become the definition and model of what love is.

16. Love unconditionally - Love to love; simple as that.

At the end of the day, we can all offer our own life lessons to this infinite list. The important thing to remember is that love, and any relationship, is a partnership of understanding, acceptance and compromises. We've been hardwired with ideals of a perfect partner. What no one tells us is that there is no "perfect" person by definition.

Our imperfections make us perfect. We sync up with and find a partner that compliments our imperfections.

Together, we are what define perfection for each other. Ultimately, that is what defines a perfect couple.

By Vaishali Sharda

Follow Vaishali on twitter at: @v4vaishali

This post was originally published on masalamommas.com and was republished with permission.

You can follow Vaishali's journey as a single mom here.