I’ve heard several young marrieds—both men and women—express surprise that their spouse changed so dramatically after marriage. “They were so different when we were dating,” they say.

May I suggest that they didn’t change, but went back to their real selves?  Often couples are tempted to present only their best while dating, and you can’t blame them. They want to win the heart of the one who seems like their soulmate. In addition, their brain is aflutter with infatuation and they feel as if they’re walking on clouds. Who wouldn’t be generous and loving in this state of euphoria?

This is why it’s a good idea to see your potential mate in many circumstances—with family, with friends, at work, at church, speaking to strangers, even tackling a difficult project together. This gives you a more rounded picture of their true personality.

And remember the beam and the mote. Yes, the other person was presenting a shinier version while dating. But don’t we all, to some extent?

In H. Wallace Goddard’s excellent new book, Discoveries: Essential Truths for Relationships, he says most people like 80 percent of their spouse’s characteristics, and find 20 percent irritating. If we each focus on the 80 percent, we’ll both be happier.

When experts say there is no one key to a happy marriage, Goddard disagrees. “There is one key. It is the willingness to see, feel, and act as Jesus would see, feel, and act. It is called charity.”

Seeing our spouse through heavenly eyes will convey the very love we all want. In fact, your partner may think you improved after marriage!  And when we receive such acceptance and admiration, we’re all motivated to be our best as well. We want to return that love in kind.

For many years my husband has kept a note in his closet, which he reads every day. It says,

We’re both on the same team.

Ask, ‘How am I doing? What do I need to improve?’

Make your actions and reactions out of love.

What can I do to help make Joni happy today?

When I learned of this, my eyes welled with tears. I wanted to do the same. Imagine if, just once a day, you thought of something you could do that would delight your spouse. 365 loving gestures a year!

Sometimes that “thing” could simply be to hold our tongue. Or not point out when they’re wrong. Maybe even ask yourself, “What would I do if we were dating?”

Even simple courtesy can speak love. Many are raised in homes where “please” and “thank you” are rarely spoken. Decide to start a new tradition and include polite expressions in your marriage.

Counsel together from time to time. Ask if there’s anything in your behavior that hurts or wounds your partner. Don’t argue about it; eliminate it. I’d like it if you didn’t interrupt me.  If you could put your phone away and look at me when I’m talking, that would be wonderful. I need you to back me up with the kids. Could you speak with your parents about xyz?

Go the extra mile. Send loving texts and messages. Get special treats you know they love. Stick a note on the mirror. Act as if you’re courting again. These little things may seem inconsequential, but they provide the glue that can hold you together during the big things.

Speaking of courting, go on a date once a week. When I had my first child, I asked the pediatrician for his best parenting advice. And that was it—go on dates. This keeps the romance alive and also provides stability for your children.

Keep a sense of humor. If your partner does something annoying, remember that you, also, have annoying quirks. And are these truly deal breakers? Do these keep you out of the temple? Don’t make them into battlegrounds.

Some time ago I wrote a musical with composer Jerry Williams, about cancer. It’s a comedy, trust me. Both my husband, Bob, and I are cancer survivors. One of the songs is based on an event that happened at an ultra-pricey steak house on his birthday. A former game show guy, Bob was given a gift certificate there by our dear friend, Ralph Edwards.

We got dressed up and went to the restaurant. I took one look at the menu and nearly fainted. Then I began looking at other customers. One table seated eight executives ordering appetizers and drinks, along with gigantic steaks. “Look at that!” I whispered. “I’ll bet their tab will be five thousand dollars!”  At another table was an elderly couple chatting it up with the waiter. “Look at them,” I whispered. “They obviously know the waiter. They must come here all the time! How can they afford it?”  Then I saw a couple across the room. “What do you think he does?” I asked.

And then I caught myself and remembered this was Bob’s birthday. “Oh—I hope I’m not ruining the evening,” I said.

“Well, let’s just put it this way,” he smiled. “If I die and you date, don’t do this.”

I laughed until I cried. This became the line we’d use whenever one of us did something irritating. And, of course one of the songs in the musical is called, “If I Die and You Date.”

What if your spouse has a problem that needs fixing?  Here’s the best thing I’ve found: Don’t see it as a problem THEY have, but a problem WE have.  Now that you’re married, you’re one. If a problem exists, it’s up to both of you to roll up your sleeves and work together on it. Own it. Solve it as a loving partnership. Set aside all shame and judgment and express love and commitment to each other as you see it through. (Clearly this does not apply to serious problems, such as abuse.)

Make God your partner. As President Russell M. Nelson has stated, “Marriage is sanctified when it is cherished and honored in holiness. That union is not merely between husband and wife; it embraces a partnership with God.”

Yes, it’s best if we present an accurate image of ourselves while we’re dating. But even our best attempts to “be real” won’t reveal the inevitable annoyances that surprise us later. Remember you married potential, not perfection. And so did your spouse. Don’t throw in the towel just because you finally noticed this. Pull God into the relationship and seek personal revelation for your union.

The best marriages are ones where each person gives a hundred percent. When you see happy couples, that didn’t “just happen.” They made it happen, even after the post-wedding surprises.

Hilton teaches Seminary. She is also an award-winning playwright, and the author of many best-selling Latter-day Saint books. Those, her humor blog, and YouTube Mom videos can be found on her website.