Happy marriages aren’t impossible. You don’t need to settle for a marriage that’s filled with fighting, abusive behavior, or even physical abuse. Finding the right person to marry isn’t an easy feat, but with some guidance from lived experience, you can find the right person and build a happy marriage with that person. In this article, we’re going to share how to have a happy marriage that lasts a lifetime that you can start working to improve today.
Are all marriages worth fighting for?
No. If you’re in a marriage that’s filled with emotional, sexual, verbal, or physical abuse, you shouldn’t be staying in it. If your marriage has ups and downs or occasional periods of tension that lead to the odd hurtful exchange, you’ll be able to make changes to that marriage through the tactics below.
How to pick the right person
While you’re dating, the key to picking the right person to marry boils down to looking at all your failed relationships. What did previous relationships lack that caused its breakdown. For example, a victim of sexual assault might look for a partner who is respectful and affectionate as their previous partner lacked those qualities. If you didn’t like that your ex didn’t have goals, you might add ambition to your list of what your next partner needs to have. Ultimately, no matter what list you make based on the opposite qualities of the failed relationship, respect must always be at the top of your list. Avoid naming superficial qualities like body type or hair color, those things change as people get older anyways.
How to Have A Happy Marriage in 2023
1. Do Acts of Kindness for Your Partner
Doing good deeds or acts of kindness for your partner can help maintain a happy marriage. Whether you’re helping around the home, giving daily foot rubs, going grocery shopping when they’re sick, or spending time together as a couple, a good marriage is all about kindness. The reality is when you’re kind to your spouse, it makes them more likely to be kind back to you. It’s unusual to need couples therapy when you’re both acting with kindness and good intentions to one another. Another benefit that kindness has in marriage is that it creates more positive emotions. For example, if you notice that your spouse just did something kind for you, you can say “wow, how kind of you. You just did your good deed of the day.” By regularly acknowledging the kind activities your partner does for you, the more likely it is that they’ll feel appreciated.
2. Say “Thank you” Regularly
On the topic of appreciation, thank you can go a long way in a marriage. When your partner or spouse does things without being asked, such as taking the garbage out, shoveling snow while you sleep in, taking care of the baby at 3 am, saying thank you can go a long way. Successful marriages are grounded in appreciation. It doesn’t take a licensed marriage counselor to know that saying thank you for love, support, and a helping hand can go a long way. Whether they’re showing regular affection, cheering you on when you step on stage, or just being a team player in your marriage, saying thank you will make a difference. And it’s not unusual for happy marriages to include thank you in their daily vocabulary. There are plenty of moments in your day to day routine from cooking to cleaning that could use those two-friendly words.
3. Help Out At Home
Happy marriages spend time supporting one another. While both people are likely exhausted from their jobs and possibly parenting, it’s crucial to find the middle ground when it comes to house chores. Setting responsibilities for each person can allow people to get into a routine about what they need to do at home. For example, one person might be responsible for collecting the garbage around the house, while the other takes it out in the morning. One partner may cook, while the other does dishes. Set realistic expectations and responsibilities for one another to create an equal home environment. When there isn’t a power struggle in the relationship, it’s easier to give love when conflicts arise.
4. Stop Trying to Change Them to Your Ideals
When one partner changes in a specific way while the other person doesn’t change in the exact same way at the same time, there’s often going to be all the problems you’d expect from someone trying to change another person. This often occurs in terms of health and fitness. One person suddenly decides to take on a fitness routine and gets angry at how the other person doesn’t. Bad things like abusive communication often arise from someone trying to force their partner towards their own ideals. People have different interests and hobbies. But people should have the freedom to decide on their own how they want to invest their spare time. Acting like this one thing you want to change is the be all and end isn’t accurate. It’s often a slippery slope that causes resentment when the other person is the only person constantly expected to change for you. Accept people as they are. Give people the freedom of choice.
5. Don’t Stonewall Them
One of the quickest ways to stay happy in your marriage is to be a good listener and not stonewall your partner when you’re mad. Relationships are a two-way street where happiness comes from respecting your partner. Happy marriages don’t include stonewalling. However, a quick way to resolve this if this happens to you is to watch his or her favorite movie. Make some popcorn. Sit on the couch and unwind. When they walk into the room to see you watching their favorite film, you’ll get a response from them. They’ll likely sit down with you and want some popcorn. Then, just enjoy the movie together. Make small talk about the movie during it. And after the movie is over, you can have a level headed conversation where you think about how to live happily and resolve your marriage problems.
6. Communicate Your Needs
What leads to divorce is often a lack of communication. And also a lack of understanding what your spouse is trying to get at when they do communicate. Support isn’t possible if you don’t really dig at what’s going wrong. Your spouse isn’t a mind-reader, and neither are you. Trying to coax it out of someone isn’t always easy. Sometimes, people don’t know what’s wrong either. But in a happy marriage, you get better at figuring out how to communicate with this one person. A marriage is basically a lifetime course in studying and understanding another person’s needs. It doesn’t need to be complicated necessarily. Partners can communicate by saying “When you say [this], I feel [emotion]” or “I noticed we haven’t been doing [activity] lately, just wanted to check in to see how you’re doing. Is there anything I can do to better support you?” A successful marriage boils down to communication. Are most of your conversations positive or negative? If they’re negative, is it possible for you to change your tone to make them more positive? You can be honest best friends without being negative or hurtful. Aim to uplift your spouse as much as possible.
7. Go on Regular Dates
When you find that special person that you love at first sight, and who becomes your best friend, it’s important to prioritize time for them. A happy marriage isn’t about the wedding day but every day after it. Your life together should be fun. If you’re going to stick it out for the long haul, consider this the best friendship you can have. Have dates without the kids every now and then. Going to the movies or for a coffee, mindful walking on a trail could be good for you too. If you’ve been fighting about money, consider free dates like gazing at the stars in the yard, hiking, walking around the neighborhood to look at houses, playing online games like Wordle together, or having a dance party at home listening to music. Your lives together should be enjoyable. Turn the bad times into happy days of playfulness instead of fighting. If you have kids and don’t have a sitter, consider spending time as a family. Ask yourself, “How can I make today fun for all of us?”
8. Give Enough Space
Having your own space to do the things you enjoy, and spend some alone time is what healthy marriage is all about. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in the same space as your spouse or partner all the time. You’re not one person glued together. It’s okay to have your own interests and hobbies. Don’t worry if you need time to recharge your batteries. Married couples should also have independent lives. In the event of divorce, couples whose whole lives were wrapped around their partners will feel as if they’ve lost who they are. Allow yourself to develop unique interests separate from your spouse. And give each other space to focus on yourselves, your peace of mind, and just enjoy a moment alone.
9. Talk Things Out
A husband and wife should talk things out. There’s always a way to talk about your problems so that you can resolve it. A family therapist can help if you find conversations always get heated. A happy marriage should be founded in good intentions. Try to give your partner the benefit of the doubt that they’re looking for both your best interests. Married couples are a team that love each other. You should enjoy each other’s company to want to work things out with words. A relationship should prioritize talking problems out before using other methods or threatening with divorce.
10. Don’t Hold Grudges
Happily married people don’t hold grudges. You shouldn’t be holding a mistake from years ago over their head to this day. If you’ll never forgive another person for their wrongdoings, you’re the problem. You might be the problem because you won’t let go of mistakes or because you didn’t walk away when you should have. Resentment hurts you more than the other person. Marriage isn’t about trying to overpower your husband or wife. If they’ve made a mistake that hurt you, talk about it. Try to move on. And if you can’t, it’s time to end the relationship. If an action is unforgivable no matter how many ways you look at it, it’s time to walk. Life shouldn’t cause you to stay in an unhappy relationship as punishment. You’re free to find happiness in any way you can. You can still foster a friendship with your spouse if they still mean a lot to you.
11. Remember You Chose Them
It takes two people to make a relationship work. And happy marriages are all about realizing that you two people chose each other. You can’t expect someone who went out of their way to date and then marry you, not to care. Sometimes our emotional pain is too strong. It causes us to exchange hurtful words with each other. Here’s some expert advice: Love the person you’re with, with as much of your heart as possible. A married couple can be happy for life. When you realize, this is a person you’ve chosen to spend your whole life with, through the ups and downs, by overcoming obstacles, and by remembering you were once great friends, but now you’re family.
12. Grow Together
A happy marriage is one in which the two of you grow together. Divorced couples always talk about how they realized their partner changed in the marriage. It doesn’t take a family therapist for you to realize that people have been changing their whole lives. You don’t stop growing or evolving just because you’ve now placed a ring on that person’s finger. Nope. You’re both going to continue to change throughout your lives. However, the key in a happy marriage is to realize that your husband or wife needs to decide how and when they’ll change. A person suffering from addiction will stop at their pace, not yours. Love is the foundation of marriage. It’s not always easy to see someone we love suffer. It’s important to allow people to make the decisions at their own pace, while we support their emotional needs and love with wide-open hearts. Starting conflict to have someone change at our pace doesn’t help people heal faster. Life isn’t under your control. Being married is about showing up in the bad times too. To make your relationship work, focus on being patient, kind, and support as you both change, even during the bad changes.
13. Be Affectionate
A happy marriage includes affection. However, this comes with a caveat. All marriages start out affectionate but eventually it fades with time. A relationship should include affection for your entire life to make it work. Hugging each other when you walk past each other at home could be something you do. Kissing each other good night. Cuddling each other in bed. A married couple can hold hands when walking. Gently pat each other’s bums when they walk up the stairs. Spouses can give each other small gifts, such as flowers or even candy. The secret to a happy marriage is to continue to show affection for the whole duration of the marriage. Having sex each week should also help you grow your family while also showing affection for each other. Your feelings for each other should be made known to the other person.
A happy marriage isn’t a well-kept secret only a select few know about. Showing your feelings to one another on a regular basis is a great way to keep relationships like yours burning bright for years to come. You don’t need to sign up for a marriage course to make things work. Accept each other as you are. Instead of turning to conflict for small things, focus on your love for one another. Hear the other person out if it makes sense. If it doesn’t, know when it’s time to leave the relationship. A happy marriage is possible for everyone, lead with your heart, and you’ll never be disappointed.