I think we have a very strong marriage now, because he stuck with me through the early years and now I trust him. We do still struggle with my issues somewhat, but he's super supportive. A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with an adult attachment disorder, which really surprised me. This is NOT the type of attachment disorder that my children have. One thing that I found helped a LOT was learning each other's love language and speaking it! This is a lot easier when your "love tank" is full. Which is one reason I find this post about Finding the Joy to be so important.
I want to comment on the book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus that I read early on in our relationship. This book almost ended my marriage! Not because it didn't have a lot of basic truths in it, but because I implemented them without communicating with Hubby. A basic premise of the book is that women solve problems by talking them through with others (very true of me), and men solve problems by going in their cave, only coming out when they have a solution (right or wrong). This perfectly described Hubby (who was slightly depressed). So, feeling guilty for chasing him around and forcing him to talk to me about what is bothering him, I backed off and let Hubby have his space to work through his troubles. Problem was, I forgot to tell Hubby (whose primary love language is Quality Time), and he thought I didn't love him anymore!!
Seven years ago, when the kids came to live with us, we didn't know anything about attachment disorders (and weren't told the kids had RAD - or bipolar or pretty much anything else!). The kids, especially my son, targeted me, but hid it from Hubby who they were afraid of (just because he's big and tends to speak firmly - he's really a teddy bear). It took some pointing out that if Hubby didn't back me up, I felt he thought I was lying and overreacting, but we did eventually get to the point where he believed me, even though he didn't really see it happening. The kids quickly learned we were a united front (even if we disagreed behind closed doors) and the triangulating almost disappeared. Hubby also took over a lot of the discipline which removed a LOT of the stress for me.
We have had some marriage counseling in recent years, but it tends to be more focused on helping us understand the kids better so we can be on the same page (we don't always agree on what is a child's disability, and therefore out of his or her control, and what is manipulation - I tend to see manipulation in Bear and he tends to see it in Kitty).
I think the biggest things that keep our marriage strong are:
1. RESPECT - we both respect each other and make it a priority not to hurt each other. Hubby tells the kids they need to respect me because I'm his wife and enforces it!
2. Speaking each other's love language!!! HUGE!
3. Making each other a priority. We schedule date nights and time alone! Remember that the kids won't live at home forever. Eventually (hopefully) the kids will move out and it will be just the two of us for as long as we live.
4. Support each other. We step in and give each other breaks (tag team!), and try to prioritize making sure that the other gets what they need.
5. Don't depend on each other to get your needs met. I know that I need a lot of support and validation, especially when I'm stressed. I try to get a lot of that from multiple sources (including the internet and blogging), so the burden isn't entirely on my husband.