For Valentine's Day, actress Kristen Bell gave her followers a very practical gift: A laundry list of advice on how to make marriage, or really any relationship, work long-term. Considering she and husband Dax Shepard enjoy a famously solid union, this is a very useful gift indeed.
In an Instagram post, Kristen explained that she'd received a request from a fan who asked her to write his soon-to-be-married friends a message.
"I wrote something congratulatory but then thought 'Kristen! Wait! You are an old married woman, shouldn't you have some wisdom to share?!'" she captioned her image, which is a list of tips for sustaining a fulfilling partnership. "After I was finished I realised what I wrote is pretty much the A-Z of how @daxshepard and I keep our relationship healthy. Its worked for us so far, So here ya go."
The first item on Kristen's list advises couples to embrace vulnerability, because "vulnerability always begets connection and intimacy." So, have a cathartic cry together.
Next, she reminds fans to stay grateful for their significant others. "In 10 years, when the dopamine has waned, remember: Life is a crazy ride," she writes. "It's a privilege to go through it with a partner."
But don't confuse partnership for symbiosis: "Take necessary separateness," she recommends. "It will make your marriage better."
Also, on that note, "Rejoice in what makes the other person happy, and allow them their individual interests." Not super into his library of literature on exotic mushrooms? Go to your kickboxing class instead.
And don't reject your partner when their flaws show: "Loving someone despite their faults, failings, or character defects, is the most powerful loving thing you can do," Kristen says, urging readers to always remember empathy. "Know that everyone is doing the best they can with what they've got," she writes. "So get a bigger emotional toolbox to fix your problems."
Kristen and Dax are extremely candid about what it takes to make their marriage work. "It's not effortless. It seems effortless," he said in a December interview. "We work it like a job."
They go to couples' therapy. They schedule time together. They talk through toxic fighting habits. And they're "very aware of the responsibility that we have based on our relationship being in the public eye," Kristen told Women's Health in August.
"The movies White Knights and Say Anything should never have been made because they gave girls very unrealistic expectations as to the rest of their lives," she said. "That’s not how it works out. It involves a sh*t ton of compromise and a lot of work."
For Kristen and Dax, all that work seems to be paying off: The pair have been together for over 10 years, and married since 2013. So, newlyweds or freshly engaged couples , heed her advice. Happy belated V-Day to us all.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health US.