Marriage is a concept both simple and complicated. On one hand, it’s as simple as choosing someone to have around for the rest of your life. On the other hand, it’s as complicated as choosing someone to have around for the rest of your life!
The “rest of your life” is a long time and people and circumstances change rather often. So it is difficult to take the leap and trust what your gut is telling you now.
But say you are seriously considering binding yourself to the one you love. Better yet, say you’ve already done it. Vows have been taken and rings exchanged and you are officially forbidden from packing your bags after the first fight. Plus who wants to fight anyway? All you want is to be happy and as I like saying, “You can only be as happy as the least happy person in the marriage.” So it’s all a real balancing act.
Surviving the first year of marriage is tough but spending the rest of your life with this partner is even more challenging. And we at Wisdom Times want to help you keep your balance, so this article will give you the 43 ultimate happy marriage tips.
To be honest, when we started, our goal was to gather 50 ultimate tips, but it turned out, almost like in the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, there were 43. To write it, we interviewed many happy couples and turned the internet upside down.
This is how we came up with three categories of happy marriage tips: General Dos, General Don’ts and Day-to-day Tips. Let’s begin…
Happy Marriage Tips – General Dos
1. Do Put Your Relationship First
You are both busy, I get that. We all are. If you want to keep your marriage working though, you need to put it above everything. If a job threatens to ruin it—leave it; if a hobby is overtaking your time—find a way to include your spouse in it. One of the biggest challenges for many couples is putting their relationship over their children. It almost sounds too selfish, but the truth is children grow up to start their own lives and you end up where you began: as a person in a marriage. So in the big picture, your marriage should come first.
2. Do Get away together when you can
Having a good home routine could be very satisfying. So much so, that you forget it’s good to get out of it from time to time. Whether you take a little (or not so little) trip alone or with friends, it will recharge you, give you a different perspective and help you deal with the challenges you are currently facing. And trust me, there will be challenges.
3. Do fun new things together regularly
The beginning of any relationship is jam packed with new experiences, which keep you interested and motivated. After you are married for a while though, you tend to fall in a rut. This could be dangerous, so make sure that you make time for doing new things together. Whether it is traveling to new places, exploring a new hobby, learning a language together, getting involved in any kind of project or anything else that comes to your mind . . . do it! This will intensify the emotions in your marriage and help keep you closer.
4. Have a life outside the relationship
It may seem like we are telling you the opposite of what we told you before. We are not though. There is a difference between putting your relationship first and ONLY living in your relationship. You were an individual before you got married and you should incorporate your marriage in your life in a healthy way, so that there is still other life left. You need to feed your own soul! Meet with friends and new people, have your own hobby and grow professionally (even when you are a mother). Keeping your rich personalities out of your relationship will ensure your relationship is interesting, balanced and strong in the long run.
5. Encourage your partner to have a life outside the relationship
You already get why it’s important, right? There are moments in every relationship where one of the partners may feel stuck in other areas of life. For example, mothers of young children who stay at home and don’t have time for themselves may fall into this trap, or anyone experiencing unemployment or other drastic career change. It is in these moments that you need to support your partner and gently encourage them to go back to being who they are and doing what they love outside the relationship.
It’s not only about you anymore. You are building a family and compromises cannot be avoided. To start with, you need to choose your battles. There are just some things not worth fighting for. Then again, when something is really important to you, you will have to insist. Compromising should never be one-sided in a marriage. It is normal that one of you gets along easier, but everything has limits. It took me a while to teach my husband to compromise, but had I not, we probably wouldn’t be married.
7. Accept that happy marriage takes work
In case you didn’t get that yet, happy marriage takes work. Sometimes you won’t have the desire to do it. Sometimes it will feel like it’s too much and not worth it. But the key to any happy lasting relationship is wanting to do the work. So in the moments you re-evaluate whether your marriage is worth a certain compromise or effort, remember your wedding vows and the happiness you felt together and do what needs to be done.
8. Respect and like each other
There is a difference between loving someone and liking them. While love is almost inexplicable, to like someone is to genuinely respect the person as they are, their achievements and qualities. If you lack this, your relationship could easily become a burden. So do not forget to notice and encourage what you like in your partner and what you know your partner likes in you.
9. Trust each other
I will not argue whether jealousy in healthy doses is good for a marriage or not. What I am certain is good though is trust. Trust in your partner can come in different forms (except the ultimate “whether he will be faithful and stay with me”). You can believe in your partner’s dreams, trust your partner with a difficult decision or know that your partner will do everything is their power to take care of you and your family the best way they can. I honestly hate listening to women undermine their husbands by constantly giving them advice. You think it’s for the best, but he thinks you don’t trust him. And this is never useful.
10. Communicate as friends
Think about it, how does communication between partners and friends differ? The main thing is friends do not have specific expectations; they accept you the way you are. It is obvious that you will expect certain things from your partner, but do not forget to communicate with them as friends when you felt they need one. Don’t judge, don’t push in a certain direction, leave your personal agenda out of it and just be there for the one you love in both the fun and not-so-fun times.
11. Communicate as partners
Even though communication as friends is important, the bottom line is you are not just friends. So another key component in your relationship is communicating as partners.This is what you have to do when you feel your partner really needs you. Force yourself to really hear and be open and honest in the most supportive way possible. This type of communication requires your full attention and can sometimes be too demanding, but it is a worthy investment if you want a happy marriage.
12. Keep the passion
This one seems pretty obvious, but with time it is easy to miss. I am not even talking about how often you have sex; we will discuss this later. I am talking about the pure, genuine passion you once felt for your partner and how to keep that for the years to come. In order to keep the passion, let’s define passion. The official definition is “strong and barely controllable emotion” and in this case the emotion is directed towards physically wanting your partner and vice versa. In short, in order to keep the passion, keep yourself physically attractive. Yes, there will be moments you let yourself go, but keep these short and get motivated to get out of them quickly. As shallow as it sounds, we love with our eyes too. Don’t neglect that.
13. Deal with negative emotions ASAP
We all know there will be fights and conflicts of interest sometimes. That’s a given. But during my talk with a marriage counselor she mentioned many couples let things get out of hand and become personal. If you want a happy marriage, you cannot get it by feeling jealous of the achievements of your partner. Or your deliberately hurt your partner to take revenge for something they did unconsciously. Be aware of your emotions, detect and deal with negativity ASAP or it will eat your relationship from the inside.
14. Have and encourage “alone” time
I have always said that if a person cannot be alone, he/she is not ready for a relationship. If you are not able to have fun with yourself, you will always depend on friends or your partner to deliver good times. What if they are busy though? Will you just sit around on the verge of boredom and passive aggression? Make the time to take walks by yourself, read a book, watch a favorite TV show, play a game, exercise or do anything that you don’t need anyone else for. Encourage your partner to do the same
15. Schedule being spontaneous
It seems like there is a lot of scheduling involved in a successful marriage, doesn’t it? It only seems that way because it’s true.
Just this morning my husband and I had the following conversation:
“We have to go out with your friend from out of town, but I have a session at 7:00 pm and you have to take the dog to the vet before it closes at 8:00 pm.”
“I know. I have some meetings at work but will try to get out before 6:00 pm, take the dog to the vet and go meet him somewhere for drinks. Can you join us when you are done?”
This conversation only includes planning of a few hours’ window and we don’t even have children. In short, if you ever want to take a break, you need to schedule it. And if you ever want to be as spontaneous as you were in the beginning of your relationship, you need to schedule it. So why is being spontaneous together important? It brings back that rush of not knowing what’s going to happen, which keeps the fire burning like nothing else.
16. Listen and hear
This is a universal tip for effectively communicating with anybody, but if you to choose one place to apply it, it’s in your marriage. I know we already mentioned that in a previous tip, but it is so important that it deserves an encore. Listen to what your spouse is saying (or not saying) and hear it. Try to understand it. If you don’t understand it, ask follow-up questions. Even if you can’t help, being heard has enormous therapeutic effect, so you can at least offer that.
I put listening and hearing before sharing for a reason, but sharing is also crucial for a marriage to work. If none of you talks, no one will have the opportunity to listen. Many of us tend to close up when we have problems at work or are worried about something. If this is your partner, the best way to lead is by example. Asking too many questions won’t get you far, but sharing your own fears and hopes might. So share.
18. Get attuned to your partner’s moods
- Do you know when he’s hungry or when he’s tired?
- Do you know when she’s mad or when she’s worried?
If you have been together for a while, you should. It’s not that difficult. Get attuned to your partner’s moods and it will be easier for you to approach them in different situations and/or give them specifically what they need. It is also simple to do. Just start paying attention and start now.
19. Have each other’s back
Saying that it is you two against the world now is a bit of a cliché I do not really believe in, but there is truth in it. In your marriage there will be times when people will fight both or one of you on your decisions. During these times, whether you completely agree with each other or not, it is important to have each other’s back. Another situation where this is useful is while you are raising your kids. When it comes to their upbringing, avoid fighting in front of them. Instead, discuss parental approach alone and support each other fully at all other times.
20. Help each other
It’s not all support and communication, and taking breaks. When the going gets tough, even the toughest can use a little help. When I decided to follow my dream of being a coach and a writer, my husband willingly accepted to support me financially, help me with marketing and find a good illustrator for my children’s book. Actions speak louder than words and no act is greater than helping someone get where they want to be.
21. Learn to grow together
Different levels or areas of growth is one of the top reasons couples fail at keeping a happy relationship. Both genders feel bad if their partner’s career is sky-rocketing compared to theirs and that’s just one example. In order to grow together, you must be able to learn from each other, and support each other in conquering your fears. If only one of you develops as a person and the other one does not, problems quickly escalate.
22. Do and appreciate little things
Nowadays we are all about women’s rights, which is something I totally support. At the same time though at home, with a man, a woman also feels the need to be taken care of. The best way to reinforce a behavior you want is by example and appreciation. So thank your man when he opens the door for you or carries your bags and don’t forget to cook him dinner once in a while. It’s the little things that make a big difference. Similar advice holds good for a man also.
23. Maintain realistic expectations
To love someone really means to accept them for all they are. Unrealistic expectations set in because we are different than who we truly are in the beginning of a relationship. Guys will be a bit more romantic and girls will constantly look amazing. After you are married though attraction gives way to comfort—the ability to be ourselves with someone. And if you expect him to bring you flowers and give you compliments as much as he used to, you may be disappointed. So don’t.
24. Respect your families
For me, it’s really ugly when someone badmouths their in-laws. Be as they may, the moment you said “I do” you did not only bind yourself to your spouse, but to them too. I am not saying you should call them mom and dad, I am not even saying you should like them, but respect is the one thing you owe them for having brought up the person you love. Not to mention that anyone would be hurt if you offend their mother or father, so is that really what you want to do?
25. Give first
For me, this is a universal rule applicable in every situation. Yet I have both experienced and witnessed how easy it is to forget it in your work and personal life. If you want happiness from your spouse, give happiness first. Give love first. It’s scary, but worth it. Remember what they say: it’s not what you have that fulfills you, it’s what you give.
Happy Marriage Tips – General Don’ts
26. Don’t try to have the perfect marriage
If you have some picture in your head about what your ideal married life should look like, forget it. Of course, do incorporate your values and strongest desires in your married life, but aiming for the “perfect marriage” is a lost cause that’s only going to leave you frustrated. So . . .
- If you expect never to fight . . . Don’t.
- If you expect to immediately agree on big decisions . . . Don’t.
- If you expect to always have a passionate sex life . . . Don’t.
Just go with the flow, make the best you can out of it and if you are both happy, that’s close enough to perfection.
27. Don’t compare your marriage to the one your friends have
It is tempting for human beings to compare with others in every way; we are competitive. But marriage is not a competition. We all value different emotions and get them in a different way. You may think you are better for having a stable job and raising your kids in the suburbs and your friends may think they are better because they move all the time and are exploring the world. Comparing your marriage to someone else’s is like judging a fish by its ability to climb a tree. No good can come of it.
28. Don’t let the sex get away
We talked about working on keeping the passion and having fun. Though sex is part of those things, it is also an important-enough chunk of a marriage to be mentioned separately. Sex is symptomatic of what is going on in a relationship. The physical part of it is important, sure, but even more important is the fact that sex is the most intimate experience to share with someone and not sharing it would drastically impact your intimacy. It is normal that you do have sex less often with time, and “how many times is enough?” is subject to each couple’s decision. Yet, if you feel it’s not enough then it’s not. And something has to be done about that.
29. Don’t try to change your partner
The truth is they will change! Being married is a whole new chapter of life and it requires leaving some habits behind and adopting new ones. But it’s best to let these changes happen. You wouldn’t like it if your partner tried to change you, would you? If you feel some of your needs have changed and your partner can not meet them, try to talk to them about these specifically, instead of putting him down as a person.
30. Don’t let disagreements cripple your closeness
Kathy Caprino, an amazing career coach who has also worked as a marriage and family therapist and is happily married herself, puts that in her Top 3 happy marriage tips. Disagreements over big or small decisions will happen in marriage and if you chose to hold grudge, you are hurting your closeness more than you know. When disagreements become about who’s right or wrong instead of how to make things work, it’s only downhill from there.
Make sure you find a way to communicate about your differences without cruelty, being demeaning, stonewalling or shutting the other person out. ~ Kathy Caprino (Tweet this)
31. Don’t let the kids run all your life
We all play many roles in life. We are employees, marriage partners, siblings, children, and friends and one day, if we are very lucky, we become parents. From what I’ve heard, it is as wonderful feeling as it is a huge responsibility and it’s easy to suddenly forget all your other roles. But the fact you are forgetting them doesn’t mean they are not there. Your friends still need you and so does your spouse. So, whether it is a grandmother living close by or a nanny, get some help and make time for your marriage.
32. Don’t stop making plans together
Making plans for your future together is one of the first signs that a relationship is moving forward. But just because the relationship has already come a long way doesn’t mean you have to stop. Always make plans together, big or small:
- When to have the baby?
- Where to live in the different phases of your life?
- Where to spend New Year’s Eve?
- What to do for your spouse’s next birthday?
There is always something to look forward to in life and if you look forward to it together, your relationship will be evergreen.
33. Don’t live in the past
You can measure the happiness of a marriage by the number of scars that each partner carries on their tongues, earned from years of biting back angry words. ~ Elizabeth Gilbert (Tweet this)
Generally speaking, time helps a marriage. You get to know each other better and better, you accept each other and ideally your closeness and intimacy builds up. But during that time there will be disagreements (like we already said a few times) and if you choose to remember each one and bring it up again and again, you will never move past your issues. Sometimes it’s best to forgive and forget and this is one of those times.
Happy Marriage Tips – Day-to-Day Tips
It’s good to have general rules to follow, but the way to follow them is by taking simple steps every day. Our day-to-day tips are exactly these steps. They will make sure you are well on your way to your golden wedding anniversary.
34. Hug and kiss
Hugging and kissing my husband when he comes back from work (or when I come back) is an absolute must in our home. Sometimes I think it’s become a habit already and has lost its significance, but it hasn’t. It’s our way of saying “Welcome home, I have missed you and I am happy you are here now.” And I like the fact we feel weird when we forget to do it and an hour later one of us says “Hey, you didn’t kiss me today! Come here.”
A few months ago I interviewed the ultimate married guys coach Athol Kay and asked him to share one thing women don’t know about men. He said we kind of know it and we kind of don’t know it, but touch is really powerful.
If you touch each other while communicating, it will be easier to get what you are saying across.
The touch itself holds a message: that you are comfortable with each other and enjoy your partner’s company. And that’s a great message to send in the easiest way possible.
36. Say “I love you”
The three golden words. First, we are afraid to say it. Then saying it is exciting while it slowly turns into another way of saying “Bye” when you talk on the phone. This process is normal. It’s more than normal, it’s good for you. The fact that you say “I love you” just like that means it is not scary anymore to express how you feel. But we are used to relating love with fear and the second we feel safe, we think something’s wrong. Nothing is wrong. Better to say it often than to never say it.
37. Use sweet names
You think it’s tacky? It is not. This is what differentiates you from everyone else—you can’t call your best friend “pumpkin.” Using sweet names for each other is part of the fun and part of the little things you can do to express love and attention every day. If you still find it uncomfortable, don’t do it in front of people, but at least do it when you two are alone.
38. Make your partner laugh
Laughing for 30 seconds makes you happy for 3 hours—Chemistry! You know your partner well enough to be able to make them laugh at least once a day. And if nothing else works, tickle them. It’s not what grown-ups do, but it’s fun and it involves laughing and touching. What better way to love someone?
39. Say “Thank you”
It’s something we say millions of times a day, including to strangers, but we may forget to say it to the one person who is there for us constantly. We take things for granted in a relationship, we “expect” that our partner will do this or that and we get upset when it’s not done. But when it’s done, we pass it by. Learn to say thank you. It’s simple, but it could mean the world.
40. Say “Sorry”
Similar to “thank you,” we could say “sorry” to anyone. It’s a piece of cake, until we have to say it to the one we care about. “Sorry” is a tiny little word, but when said to the right person it could mean you are ready to undermine your ego and admit you were wrong.
41. Speak up in a positive way
When you are unhappy with something, do not keep it bottled up inside, but also do not burst into tears or screams. Think about the best way to handle the situation and speak up in a positive way. Often the only way to manage and do that is to disassociate yourself. How would you advise a friend of yours to speak with their partner in a similar situation? That’s the rational way to go.
42. Ask your partner about their day
Here’s the deal: sooner or later you run out of romantic things and huge plans to talk about and if you shut up, you will turn into roommates passing each other by. In order to keep the connection with your spouse, you have to know what they are going through. So take a few minutes of your evening, ask them and hear all about their day.
43. Be romantic as often as you can
Romance can mean a different thing to different people. Bottom line, it is nice to get flowers with no reason sometimes. Or to come back home to a candlelight dinner. It’s nice to prepare little surprises for each other and to tell each other sweet things. It’s nice to dedicate a song to someone you love. This is all positive energy flowing right into your marriage.
Incorporate these simple happy marriage tips to achieve the “happily ever after” element in your life. Can you think of any other happy marriage tips we may have missed? Leave it in the comments below.
Check out our Happy Marriage Series Below :
3. The 43 Ultimate Happy Marriage Tips (This Article)