If you have lived in the same home for years, you probably have a lot of stuff stored away. However neatly packed, anything you haven’t put to good use for more than a year is probably a burden rather than a blessing. In a similar way, you likely have old stuff tucked away in the corners of your marriage. It is wonderful to dust off your great memories to reminisce and enjoy, but what about the old resentments and perceived affronts?

Forgiveness is essential to a great marriage. The longer you have lived together, the more important it is that you not accumulate resentments that tempt you to call upon them in times of disagreement. Make a vow to keep disagreements limited to the current issue. Avoid sentences that begin, “You always …” or “You never …” such as “You never remember my birthday.” If something happened long ago, forgive and forget. Even if it happened yesterday, consider granting forgiveness for your own sake as well as your partner’s. Forgiveness is especially a blessing upon the person doing the forgiving.

Let today be the day you do an emotional housecleaning of your marriage. Gather up all your old emotional baggage and put it out with the trash. Unlike your grandmother’s wedding dress, your leftover emotions are of no value to anyone. Better yet, hold a fire ceremony, either alone or with your loved one. Write each past injury on a small slip of paper and release your attachment to that emotion as you feed the paper to the cleansing fire.

What could be even better than forgiving your partner? For forgiveness to be needed, there must have been a perceived offense that triggered feelings of resentment and anger, but imagine never getting angry or resentful in the first place. Suppose you simply accepted all your partner’s actions. In the presence of acceptance, there can never be resentment or anger, and therefore no need for forgiveness.

Your reaction is likely to be, “But he did something bad. She wronged me. It’s his fault. She made me angry.” Hmmmm… Can someone really MAKE me angry? I don’t think so. We get angry when someone acts in a way that conflicts with how we prefer that they behave – nothing more.

Should you accept your partner’s behavior? If their actions are violent or threatening, certainly not. If you feel endangered or even just generally unhappy with your marriage, consider ending it. But in the context of a generally happy marriage, accepting your partner exactly as they are is a recipe for creating an even stronger and happier connection.

Consider being more acceptive of your partner’s behaviors. It is unlikely that they are intentionally aggravating you. Almost always, they are just doing what they think they should do. Try setting aside your own rules for how they should behave, and adopt a live-and-let-live attitude. Your marriage will become stronger and happier if you do.