This question came up in a recent conversation. I'm also reminded of a friend whose wife of 35 years left him, perhaps in part because he was a workaholic and neglected her. He got a divorce, and is now happily together with his high school sweetheart. He told me that every week without fail he buys his girlfriend a card and writes a love note in it.
That sounds sort of effortful to me, like he is overcompensating for past neglect. It also feels a bit like bribery to me.
My opinion is that marriage should not require a lot of effort to keep it together. People should stay together because they enjoy each others company most of the time. As Marnia says, "You are the gift to your partner". If it feels like it is taking a lot of work to keep the marriage together, there is something wrong with the relationship.
I think I acquired this outlook from my parents. They have been married for nearly 60 years, and they are still in love. Recalling how they interacted with each other while I was growing up, it certainly seems to me that their marriage was effortless. Indeed, Mom once scoffed at the idea that some couples have to "work at their marriage" to keep it going.
Of course, if a marriage is in trouble (as mine is, for example) then I expect it does require a lot of effort to get it back together. But my hope is that it doesn't require much effort - at least it will not feel like a lot of effort - to keep it going after the marriage is repaired.
What do others think?