Top 5 Tips for a Happy Marriage –
Top 5 Tips for a Happy Marriage
Here are my Top 5 Tips for a Happy Marriage! I have been married for 8 years in May 2014 and it is one of the biggest sources of joy in my life. I am very independent and I do not expect my happiness to come solely from my marriage but I do expect the good times to outweigh the bad. We do not have kids yet so maybe I will have a different perspective when that happens but this marriage advice has helped so far.
How we met: My husband and I met in San Francisco when I first moved here in 2006. I stopped in a coffee shop/deli where he was working (before he became a chef and also it was back when I ate sandwiches and fat free mayo). We struck up a conversation because I was irritated that they didn’t take credit cards and I did not want to pay the ATM fee. I guess he thought I was cute because he asked for my number. I was new to city and looking for adventure and fun. I figured what the hey, how can it hurt to go out with this guy just one time. He was tall, dark and handsome with big green eyes and eyelashes for days. He was not sure I was giving him the correct number so he called right away. My phone started ringing in my purse. He called me the next day to go to dinner and we were basically inseparable ever since.
Make your relationship your first priority
I have hobbies (okay, blogging is my only hobby… and job) but I always know when to put down my computer and take time for my relationship. When I used to have personal training clients I would often see people who had such a busy social life their relationship took a back seat. I try to be home at night most nights to have dinner with my husband and spend quality time together.
By having this time each day we can reconnect and bond again. I have been traveling more lately but every night we make a point to Facetime and talk about what happened during the day. I think I learned this habit from my dad and step-mom who have been married for over 30 years. They spend a lot of time together talking through the small details of what happened each day. They are a really good example of how to have a close relationship, in my view. That is not to say they did not argue and fight but they always got their issues out then made up.
Just like my parents, my husband is my best friend and I don’t put any other relationships before ours. I keep my social activities to a minimum because having time for my husband is super important to me. I see my friends once or twice a week but I am not running around all over town with a million plans. I am perfectly happy to spend most of my free time with my husband and I think that makes our relationship stronger.
Look for the good in the other person
It is so easy to focus on all the bad or what the other person does wrong. It can be so easy to make lists of how they may have been disrespectful of our needs. But you have to remember the other person is doing the best they can. We may not realize all the stress that our spouse is under which led them to leave their shoes in the middle of the living room floor or leaving their clothes in a pile. Hanging up their jacket may not be the biggest priority in their life, the way it is to you, when their boss just yelled at them. When your spouse comes in from a hard day at work, the last thing they need is to be lectured to about all the things they screwed up. If we look for all the things the person did right such as filling up the gas tank, taking out the trash, picking you up from the airport and more. Guess what happens? Your spouse may surprise you and start doing more good things that you like. The good deeds will multiply if we focus on them. Guess what, so will the bad. Do you want your relationship to get worse? I doubt it….
Forgive quickly and forget
The first year we were married we were really broke and I was in school and unable to help out financially. It was easy to fight over small things because we were exhausted all the time from stress. We also used to argue a lot because we were still getting to know each other. There were days we both wanted to throw in the towel but we chose to focus on the good and keep going. We might have an argument one day but it is important not to dwell on it. We only get to live once and I don’t want to spend it being pissed off.
Choose your battles wisely
It is easy to get addicted to being right and making the other person wrong. There is no such thing in a marriage. If you are not strengthening the relationship you both are losing. Making someone else wrong is only going to make them resent you and create more hostility. No one really wins an argument. I try to use the words “I feel…” rather than “you are a horses behind”, and be as nice as you can when asking for someone else to change. Starting with “you are a big slob” for example will probably not produce the desired outcome. We both agree that name calling is unproductive and hurtful so we both avoid it as much as possible.
The main thing is to talk it out so both people feel heard but then move on. Usually my husband needs a a few hours of alone time then he is willing to talk it out. I like to get it all out right away but we both have to adjust our fighting styles. He now needs less time to brood and I just let him have his time. This usually works well and we can get over an argument fairly quickly. We both have very strong personalities so it is hard for either of us to bend but we cherish harmony and togetherness more than being right.
Bonus: Speak your partners love language
My husband is kind of old fashioned and he grew up in a home where his mom was a homemaker (I did not). She had the house clean when everyone came home and dinner on the table. While I don’t have any problem cooking, cleaning is another matter. I do not enjoy it. But it makes my husband so happy, especially vacuuming, so most days just to make him feel at ease I clean up a little before he comes back. It is archaic but it keeps things between us running smoothly. For me he stopped eating bread, so what more can I ask for ?
That is what marriage is all about, give and take. I think in our overly narcissistic society we forget that life is not all about the one in the mirror. We have to think about the needs of the other person in order to make marriage work. Figure out what your partners love language is and do those things even if they are a bit more work. It is not something you have to do everyday just be aware of what that thing is. For me being close and spending quality time with to my husband is more important than gifts or acts of service. But your love language may be different and you may find some other acts fill your love tank.
Bonus: Hug a lot
Touching releases Oxytocin ” the intimacy hormone” that will improve mood and well being. My husband and I hug every time we see each other. For me, it really helps with stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed. I know it helps him to feel at ease too even though he doesn’t talk about it much.
Bonus: Work on yourself
My husband and I both take nutrition very seriously and we both eat very nutrient dense meals and a follow a Paleo template. We both understand how stress can become over whelming if we don’t sleep right and exercise in an efficient way. If one partner is not taking care of themselves they may not be able to be a giving partner in the relationship. We both support each other in working out, going to bed on time and keeping the fridge full of nourishing food. These are things that make use feel on track. If you don’t take care of yourself you won’t have energy to support anyone else.
Bonus: Be in the moment
Later is not always better, in fact, later may never come. This moment is the only time we have that is guaranteed. Try to get out of the habit of waiting for “the good life” to start. It is right here right now. Enjoy the ordinary everyday things. A slow breakfast on Sunday morning, a walk in the neighborhood after dinner, or a leisurely coffee shop date. These are the good times, they don’t have to be trips to Paris or Hawaii. If your day to day life is not something you enjoy that is an area to work on and subject for another blog post. Try to let the past stay in the past and enjoy this day with your spouse because that is a gift many people do not get. Read my post 10 ways to be in the moment
Bonus: Be Okay on your own
It is not your spouses job to make you happy. We have to be okay alone to ever be a giving partner in a relationship. Just the same way moving won’t solve your life’s problems because you are still the same person wherever you go. There is a difference between enjoying being with your spouse and expecting that they will provide all your happiness and self esteem needs. I have seen this behavior many times in women in my life who have had low self worth/image. Sure being with my husband makes me feel happy but it is not the only avenue that brings me fulfillment. Putting that on him would be too much pressure and ultimately the relationship would crumble. It is not anyone’s job to make me happy, that is my job. Being fulfilled comes from satisfying work, a positive outlook, deep refection, a broad world view, faith/ spirituality, friends, fitness, ect. Your spouse can not be held responsible for providing all of those other needs. If both people develop their own well-rounded life then neither will be overly dependent on their spouse and the marriage will be strong.
What are some tips you would add?
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