“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”– Mignon McLaughlin
Marriage is something that seems pretty straight forward, you get married, you become a partnership, and it is full of bliss. But the reality is that a marriage is just like a partnership, which means that you don’t always see eye to eye. When the lackluster of becoming husband and wife begin to wear, things can start to feel, well lackluster. But the good news is that you don’t have to lose the magic. Marriage is just like everything else good in life; you get out of it what you put into it. So if you want to be happy, you have to be willing to put the time and dues in to build a happy bond. These are ten ways to keep your marriage strong and happy, and even to turn things around if they aren’t even close to it.
1. Find out What Your Partner’s Language of Love is
We all have a different perception of what love means. Some people think that spending time with one another is a sign of love, while others believe that showing their love is all about acts of service. The problem is that if you don’t figure out what language of love your partner speaks, your efforts of conveying your love in your own language might not come across so loving. For example, if your idea of showing love is building your spouse a new bathroom, and you spend every waking night for a month building the perfect bathroom to make them happy, it isn’t going to make them feel good if they experience love as spending time together.
So don’t assume that your partner speaks the same language or that they don’t appreciate what you are doing if they don’t read your efforts as intended. Listen carefully to what they think love looks like instead of what you do, and you won’t waste time doing things that will have the opposite effect on your relationship. And you also won’t feel cheated that they don’t love what you did for them because they would have instead had time spent than a new bathroom. If you don’t speak the same love language, that can lead to a whole lot of frustration and hurt feelings on both sides!
2. Don’t Take Your Relationship for Granted
Getting married is not happily ever after; it is just the beginning step. Don’t think that because you are now husband and wife you can stop dating. You have to put just as much energy and focus into your relationship after you marry, then you did before. And sometimes when life becomes stressful, even more. The key to a happy marriage is to date one another forever and never feel like your spouse “belongs” to you; they don’t. You don’t own anyone; you have to continue to earn their love daily.
3. Take Time Together
Life can become stressful with kids, jobs, and finances. And it can become easy to start to drift apart and not spend as much time together. One-on-one time doesn’t mean laying in bed at the end of the day, staring at a television screen. It means making time for your spouse daily to hear what their day was like, to discuss the little things that mean a great deal, and always making them feel as if they are a priority.
Sure, there are going to be times when going out together alone isn’t something you can do. But what you can do is make sure to give some undivided attention to each other. Make it a particular point to turn off phones and talk openly and honestly about what is happening in each other’s lives. Or, soon you can find two people who have nothing in common and nothing to talk about, which is hard to rebuild once the connection is lost.
4. Keep the Magic Alive
Sex might not be as exciting and new as it was the first time you got together, but it can be just as fun. The beauty of being husband and wife is that you can be open and honest about your preferences. Never stop trying new things or finding ways to please your partner sexually. When you have an intimate relationship, you can talk about what excites you.
And you can also discuss what you want in bed. If you maintain intimacy, it only gets better. There is a reason that some married couples report having the best sex life of their lives. It is because once you learn to trust someone and open up about what you want, having your needs met, and even exceeded, becomes possible.
5. Have Clear Expectations
Often, the biggest problem in a marriage is that there are no expectations that couples have for one another. If you don’t clearly define what it is that each is responsible for in a marriage, then no one is quite sure what they are supposed to do. And it is also likely that one person will misunderstand the intentions of the other.
If you never clearly express that you would like your spouse to take out the trash, and continually get upset that they don’t, that is a whole lot of wasted energy. When you have defined roles and responsibilities, both of you know what is expected of you. And you also know what to expect from the other. There is no room for misunderstanding or misinterpretation.
6. It is Better to be Happy Than Right
Although no one wants to concede, there are times when you have to realize that it is better to be happy than to be right. Sometimes we get so caught up in winning an argument that we don’t even remember what we were arguing about. Instead of beating an issue to death that means very little in the scheme of things, agree to disagree and move on.
Trying to win a battle isn’t worth it if it is going to leave your relationship with carnage everywhere. Instead of digging your heels in when you are in the heat of an argument, remember that it is much better to be happy than to be right, and let your partner have it. You can always know in your heart that you were right, but you also get the benefit of knowing that you are right and happy because you gave in and stopped fighting over something that doesn’t matter.
“A great marriage is not when the ‘perfect couple’ comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.”– Dave Meurer
7. Accept Their Faults
The reason that most couples continue to go round and round about the same things and arguments is that they don’t learn just to accept those things about their partner that might not be so lovely. If your husband is a guy who is always late, accept it about him and work around his idiosyncrasies. One fact in life is that you can’t change anyone’s behavior but your own. So if you think that beating him up about something that comes with his territory will lead to change, the only difference it will lead to is a miserable marriage.
You, no doubt, have things that you do to set him off. By learning to accept those things we might not like about our mate and moving on, you are providing the one thing that every happy marriage needs, unconditional love. It isn’t about looking the other way; it is about accepting that people operate and think differently and that it is okay. After all, if they were anyone else, you wouldn’t have fallen in love, to begin with. You have to learn to take the not so good with the bad, or you will be battling over the same issues for eternity. And you will create little holes in your happiness needlessly.
8. Forgive, Like Really Forgive
There are times in a marriage when your partner will do things that will sting. Learning to forgive is not about saying, “I forgive you,” and then bringing the issue up again every time you are upset with them. To forgive, you have to put things in the past, behind you. It doesn’t help to continue to rehash all those things that they did to wrong you every time you get in an argument.
Pulling things out of your arsenal from the past, especially those issues that you have already said you forgave, gives your partner the message that no matter what they do, you will harbor bad feelings toward them. It is also telling them that there is no forgiveness for their misgivings. And you can’t be in a happy marriage if you are constantly carrying around your backpack of how your spouse hurt you.
If you can’t forgive something, then be honest about it. But if you have made amends, they have said they were sorry, and you have moved on, move on. When you fight, fight about the actual situation at hand, not all the many things they have done to hurt you in the past. Forgiveness is KEY to a happy marriage. It is almost entirely impossible to have a happy marriage if you carry the hurts of the past.
9. Pick Your Battles
Along similar lines as accepting your mate’s faults is learning when to pick your battles. Getting along with someone for a lifetime requires that you learn to let things go. If you are always harping about the same thing over and over again, your partner will begin to tune you out. And when that happens, there is a break down of communication that can lead to you growing apart.
When you see that they have had a bad day or they are in a bad mood, consider that it might not be the time to confront them about spending too much money or missing the hamper for the one-hundredth time. Learning to know when to bring up a subject is critical to having a real nonemotional conversation. Try to determine when your partner is best approachable and when to let things be.
There are infinite moments in your life to talk about unpleasantries. But at a time when they aren’t feeling very pleasant, is not one of them. If they are sending signals that they need a break, give them one and save your conversation for another day when they will be more receptive to have a conversation that solves a problem instead of having one that exasperates one!
10. Never Let Other People Into Your Marriage
One of the worst things you can do in your marriage is to confide in other people about the intimate details of what is going on. It is okay to vent to a best friend about being upset, but waging an all-out campaign about how horrible your spouse is, only creates negativity that will continue to grow and fester.
As alluring as it can be to tell your side of the story to close friends and family members, the reality is that you are only telling them YOUR side. When you do that, it might feel terrific to have someone back you up. But it also creates a bad feeling in the people who surround you toward your significant other. The idea is to be a team and for you both to have people in your life who love and support you. Not to have a posse of people on your side to tell you, you are right.
You Want Support and Positivity From Those Around you
You want people to support your marriage, not wish for its demise. So keep your fights between the two of you, and don’t share the ugly with other people. They don’t have a fair frame of reference, and if you taint relationships and let other people in between your marriage, it will keep you at odds. And it will continue to perpetuate the “us” against my spouse scenario that isn’t good for you, your spouse, or your marriage.
A Happy Marriage Takes Hard Work
Although marriage is one of the best relationships you can form, it doesn’t always come naturally. Sharing your life with someone isn’t always easy. And loving someone doesn’t mean that you always “like” them. To have a happier marriage, accept each other’s faults, forgive without holding onto baggage, and pick your battles, so you aren’t battling your way into misery.
Be patient and kind and follow the golden rule to do unto others as you would have done unto you. If you treat your significant other as you want to be treated, you will have a blissful marriage that will outlast the test of time.