Although I have 16 years of marriage under my belt, my husband and I are still working out the kinks. I’m not going to lie. I want to lay that all out on the table before I go any further with this post. There are no unicorns and rainbows under our roof, folks. A happy marriage has its good days and bad. That is a universal truth. Before we dive into my happy marriage list of things you can start doing today to help better your relationship with your significant other, I want to ask you a few questions.
How long can you hold onto a grudge?
Do you have to be 100% right during an argument?
Do you prioritize other events that fall outside of your marriage?
Where are your overall priorities in life?
Consider these questions before you continue down my list. These foundations are critical to understanding where you place your marriage on your own personal list. You don’t have to tell me your answers. Just think about them on your own.
I always love to listen to people who have been married for 40 – 50 years because I find that they have the secret to a happy marriage. Are you ready for it? The little moments matter most. The biggest arguments seem to fade away because the honest realization that everything you actually need is right in front of you has been learned. Nothing else matters.
However, after spending 20 (dating) years with my husband, I can say that I’ve learned a few lessons (over and over again). We are certainly not perfect and I am certainly not professing that we are. We fight – just like the rest of the world. And anyone who says otherwise is l-y-i-n-g. I don’t portray a perfect life online and I unfriend anyone who does. Makes me nauseous.
Want to have a happy marriage? Live an authentic life. If you have a major blow out… live through those feelings. Don’t walk around with a painted smile on. Don’t post pictures on Facebook with the hashtag #blessed tagged on at the end. Own the argument. Process it. Cry through it if you need to. And then forgive. The biggest cancer to any relationship is burying emotions because we all know that they don’t really have any place to go. We hold onto them with white knuckles and releases those truths at the most inopportune times. So, instead of wasting so many weeks/months/years of your life feeling angry and hurt and alone… talk through whatever is hurting you in that given moment and get through it together as fast as you can.
I think sometimes my husband wishes I wasn’t so in tune with my emotions and feelings. I am very aware of myself and there isn’t an off switch although I recognize I can be exhausting at times. But I believe it helps us in the long run. I won’t wait. I want to talk about whatever it is right now. And if we are really upset, we scream. Hey, I’m a Scorpio, an Italian, and I’m from NYC. He’s in big trouble. But that just means I love with my whole heart and I am very passionate. So, I fight hard and I love hard. He has me completely and he knows that.
My #1 piece of advice to you is to give yourself completely to your happy marriage. To own every single emotion – good or bad. A happy marriage isn’t always happy… but it’s always honest. It starts with honesty. I think that’s the foundation of it all. A happy marriage is likely filled with arguments and disagreements… but they are settled quickly and swiftly. They don’t marinade and fester until they start to damage the soul. They help work through whatever hurt has happened and then they are released. You are allowed to get through the pain because pain helps with growth. If everything was always easy, we would never learn or grow. Change and conflict can bring about beautiful things. I’m not afraid to argue and I’m not afraid to disagree. A happy marriage needs two people who know how to do it in a healthy manner.
Ok! Let’s get right to it! Onto my happy marriage tips!
How To Have A Happy Marriage
- Don’t go to bed angry.
- Try to talk about whatever is bothering you as soon as possible. The sooner the better – truly. The longer you wait, the harder it is to get to the root of the matter.
- Don’t bring up other issues while you are fighting about something current. Old wounds should remain healed.
- Both parties should be involved in money management.
- Happily receive compliments.
- Happily offer compliments – and often. Don’t wait to receive them before you start saying them.
- End the cycle. Whatever that cycle may be. Be the change. I tell this to my bickering children as well.
- Electronics are killing marriages. Social media isn’t more important than quality time. The silent moments while you are both watching a moment are special. They can open both of you up to a conversation, but not if you are texting and tweeting and posting witty updates for likes.
- Stay present – always.
- Work matters. If your partner wants to come home and gripe about their day, let them. It’s not always fun, but it’s part of their lives. So, listen.
- Don’t always come home with negativity. If that means that you get off of work and hit the gym first so that you can go for a run – do that.
- Not everything in your life needs to be shared. Intimacy is a beautiful thing. Keep it personal.
- Cuddle more. This is a happy marriage must!
- Send a dirty text.
- Go on a date every now and then. Your marriage needs it. I know you have kids and babysitters cost a lot of money and it’s just not in the budget, but it’s important for you and your spouse to have time alone with one another outside of the house.
- Have long-term goals that are shared. My husband and I would love to have a house on the North Fork of Long Island. We’ve even purchased a fun beach sign that we are going to hang when we get there. Odds are that won’t get on our wall for 20 years, but it’s our thing. It’s our dream. We talk about it often. That makes it something that we enjoy – together.
- If there is something that your spouse loves that you particularly don’t, honor that. I despise sports and if he wants me to… I will go to a sports game. He loves it – so I need to love it sometimes too. Not all the time. But SOMETIMES.
- You need to have your own things away from one another. You cannot be each other’s world 24 hours a day / 365 days a year. That’s actually really unhealthy. Get a hobby that doesn’t involve your spouse. Grow as a person and stand on your own two feet. A happy marriage requires this!
- Kiss in public. Hold hands in public. Show your children that you love each other. Another must for a happy marriage. It doesn’t have to be grossly affectionate. I’m not saying to get uncomfortable. I’m just saying to share your love.
- Care about yourself. This is another thing I say to my children all the time. Care about what you look like, what you eat, how you present yourself to the world. This isn’t about weight! I just mean that you should walk out of the door like you are ready to meet people. Other humans! Expect to run into your high-school nemesis. That’s a good bar to measure yourself up against. A little makeup, ironed clothes, nice hair. Not pajamas.
- Give him the remote. I struggle with this a lot because I am completely Type-A and need to totally be in control all the time. Let your spouse take control every now and then. It’s ok to have him change the radio station without your input every now and then. Let him choose the TV show without your input every now and then. Not all the time, but sometimes!
- He’s not your employee – he’s your husband. Don’t forget that.
- Register that men think differently than women. They don’t find things the way we do. Men don’t process things the way we do and don’t remember things the way we do. They don’t analyze things the way we do. Stop expecting him to.
- Don’t be a right fighter. I was a right fighter for ¾ of my life. And if I am really being honest with you… I am still am at times. Does it really matter? Do you want to be right? Or do you want to have a healthy marriage? If it is a SERIOUS issue, then absolutely FIGHT for it. But if you are arguing whether or not you met up with Sally on Wednesday or Thursday last… who flipping cares? If you are fighting whether the tacos he ordered at the restaurant had mild or medium salsa… who flipping cares? There are some arguments that just are a waste of time. I can’t tell you how many times I bite my tongue because honestly, I know that it REALLY isn’t doing anything for anyone. IF I am right or wrong about what the sign said in front of the store isn’t important. It really isn’t.
- In the end, it’s all about the two of you. It’s great to have friends and extended family. It’s great to want to travel and do great things and check major events off your bucket list. But at the end of the day, it’s all about the two of you. If that means you spend your weekends sharing a bottle of wine in your backyard playing Scrabble, so be it. Sounds like a beautiful life to me. You don’t have to say yes to anything. Only if you want to.
- Experiment with new things. You know where. Only if you want to. If you two don’t do it, then who will?
- Stop picking on each other. HUGE HUGE HUGE!
- Learn how to agree to disagree. You are not his child. He is not your child. This is critical for a happy marriage.
- Work on your bad habits that annoy your spouse. You know what they are.
- Accept yourself. Accept your flaws. Love yourself. Your spouse can’t fully love you if you don’t fully love yourself.
- Slow down and smell the roses.
- Be comfortable with the silence. Your days don’t always have to be filled with excitement.
- Start doing the crossword puzzle together on the weekends. If you don’t get the paper, pick up Words with Friends. Do something small and fun together that can connect you to one another.
- Plan a vacation for the family.
- Accept apologies the first time around.
- Let go of grudges. This is such a hard one. I KNOW OMG. But you can’t move forward if you are holding onto anchors. Stop drowning yourself.
- Stay accountable.
- Stop being so busy since your happy marriage needs both of your involvement.
- Give one another a massage. I bet you are both stressed! 5 minutes goes a long way.
- Decompress with a nice, hot bath. Draw one up as a surprise for your significant other.
- Come up with a cutoff point in the day where you put all your electronics away.
- Definitely no electronics during any meals. This goes for the children as well. Such a great way to reconnect as a whole. I find out the most about my kids’ lives around the dinner table.
- Stay open to one another and do your best to never shut down.
- Don’t take each other for granted. Yes, you have forever but right now matters too.
- Go to church. Bring the kids. Be consistent with it. Don’t phone this in. It’s like a clean slate every Sunday and it feels great. Trust me.
- Whenever you remember, be sure to look at your spouse. I mean – really look at him/her. See them. Look at how they aged. Remember how they were. Acknowledge that you were there for every single step of the way. That is such a beautiful thing.
- Watch your words. Every syllable matters.
- Say thank you often.
- Own the fact that you are in control of your own happiness. I can write an entire post about this concept – but it’s simple enough. If you want to be happy, start believing that you deserve it. Wake up looking for it. Search out good things. Shift your mind towards all good things.
- Accept each other.
What do you think of the list? Do you have any that you’d like to add? This has me dreaming of a second honeymoon if I am being honest.