Karen Hellier is a freelance writer and eBay entrepreneur. She lives happily in the mountains of North Georgia with her husband and her dog.
Good marriages are a lot of work. Most people don’t want to hear that. Many couples are in La La Land when they marry. But a marriage needs to have two people who really want the marriage to succeed in order for it to last for the long-term and involve two happy people. Here's a list of tips that will help married couples have long and happy marriages:
1) Be Honest With Each Other
Some people think that making the other person happy is the best plan in a marriage. But eventually, if you are always giving in to the other person's wishes, while shoving your own wants and needs under the rug, resentment will build up inside you. Whether it be major decisions such as whether or not your spouse should take a new job and move the two of you out of state, to smaller things, like what restaurant to eat in, be honest with your spouse.
Of course there may be times you truly don’t care, and at those times it’s fine to let your partner decide. But being honest with your spouse is one of the best ways to have a healthy relationship. As a precaution here, let me just say that being too honest so that you hurt someone’s feelings is not a good plan. If someone asks how you look in a certain shirt or blouse, you can actually phrase it in a way that won’t hurt feelings. A statement such as, “It’s definitely not the best color for you” is much better than saying, “You look so pale it looks like you’re a corpse!”
2) Communication Is Important in a Healthy Marriage
What does communication between a married couple actually mean? Don’t they live together and talk to each other every day? Well, maybe but communication in a happy and healthy marriage needs to go further than, ’Please pass the butter” or ”Can I have the Sports section of the newspaper?” Two people are in a marriage together so both should be able to discuss their wants and needs.
Open communication is a very good thing. It could be about their hopes and dreams, or it could be talking about ways to live together more peacefully. It should definitely include some discussions about money because money issues are often the cause most often link to marital discord. Some people get aggravated by their spouse for years, and never bring it up. Then when they announce they want a divorce and the spouse asks why they give them a whole laundry list of things they have done wrong over the years.
Husbands and wives should love each other enough to be able to talk about these issues as they arise. This is another situation where things can fester and build up over the years if not discussed during the time they are happening. If a spouse has a hard time with confrontation, plan a weekly or monthly family meeting time where husband and wife sit down together and air anything that’s bothering them. Does it bother you when he leaves clothes hanging out of his top drawer, or leaves his dirty clothes on the bathroom floor for you to pick up? Does it bother you when she leaves her makeup containers out all over the bathroom counter, or leave the kitchen cupboard doors open and you knock your head on them? Discuss issues as they arise so they don’t become mountains in your marriage when they started out as molehills.
3) Variety Is the Spice of Life
And no, I am not talking about just in the bedroom, although variety there is important too. It's healthy for married couples to experience new things together. Doing the same types of things every week, or every year can be very boring. And boring is not healthy for a marriage. To get out of the rut of the same activities and routines, find a new vacation destination every year. Try a new restaurant at least once a month.
If money is an issue, try new experiences together. Playing a new board game, taking up a new sport, finding a new trail to hike on, or learning a new dance can keep the spice in a relationship. Couples will bond over these new experiences and they will have new things to talk about. Couples who experience new activities will always have new things to look forward to together.
4) Find Interesting Ways to Show That You Care
There are lots of ways to show a husband or wife that they are important to you or that you are thinking about them. It could be texting or emailing them during the day when you are both at work. This is especially important if your spouse is having a stressful day or week, or has a big meeting coming up. Leaving a love note on the bathroom mirror or in their car before you leave for work will be a nice surprise.
Another great surprise would be to bring home a cup of their favorite coffee on a Saturday morning. Or make a meal or dessert you know they would love. A nice surprise for a spouse will always bring a smile to their face and make their day brighter. And will bring back that spark that was there in the beginning of a relationship.
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5) Don’t Try to Change Your Husband or Wife
It has been said that many women marry a man with the thought that they will change him after they get married. A wise woman will know it’s better to accept the man she loves as he is. If he drops his dirty socks on the floor constantly, that won't change if the wife nags him daily to pick them up. And men usually go into a marriage thinking their wives will accept them for who they are and be happy.
A man would be wise to try to make some considerations to make his wife happy. If a husband knows it really bothers his wife that he drops his socks on the floor, he will probably make an effort to pick them up. If two people really care about each other, they will both accept each other and keep the other person's happiness in mind. With this in mind, a man may make some changes if he knows it will make his wife happy. But it will be best if it's his own choice and a nagging wife will only cause resentment.
6) Show Love for Each Other Physically
If public displays of affection are okay with both husband and wife, then feel free to connect with each other that way both in and out of the home. Showing affection in physical ways is important to the health of a marriage. Find ways to connect physically throughout the day. Hug and kiss often, or at least when you leave each other in the morning and before you go to bed at night.
Back rubs and shoulder rubs feel great at the end of a long day. Neck rubs are wonderful, especially when one spouse is driving and the other is sitting in the passenger seat and can reach across and make the other person feel better so easily. And never stop making love, no matter how old you get. There are many ways to be intimate, so be creative as you age together.
7) Agree on How to Raise Your Children
If you have children, agree in advance on how to raise them. That way the kids can't pit one of you against the other. Always talk about discipline issues together before you present decisions to your children. You want to present a united front to your children so they can’t pit mom and dad against each other. It has been said that the way to best love your children is to love their mother/father. Setting the example that your spouse is the most important person in your life will help your children feel secure in their families. And your spouse will appreciate your effort as well.
8) Say, “I Love You” Every Day
Life can be full of surprises and you never know what day may be your last. Always tell your husband or wife that you love them, every day so you will have no regrets if something does happen. If it's hard to actually verbalize these words, and for some people it is, a handwritten note, a card, or text works well too.I have heard of people thinking that their spouse loved them because they put the toilet seat down every time they used it. Or she didn't leave her bar hanging on the back of the door daily. But actions are not usually enough. The actual words, "I love you" really do carry a lot of weight.
9) Don’t Ever Go to Bed Mad
Always talk things out before bed so that you can both get a good night's sleep. There's a saying about never letting the sun go down on your anger. This is especially true for married couples. When you end one day in resentment and anger, you'll probably start the next day in the same mood.
Not only is it not good for a person's mood, but not good for his/her physical health either. Try to talk things out before you actually go to sleep, or make an agreement to have time to talk the next day at some point, when both of you are calmer and really know what you want to say. Just agreeing to talk it over the next day will help settle ill feelings and provide both husband and wife with a better night's sleep.
10) Allow Your Spouse to Change and Grow
When a couple gets married, they may end up spending the next 40 or 50 years together. Assuming that a spouse will be the exact same person for all that time is unrealistic. Hopefully, they will evolve into more interesting, more loving, and more kind. If they go on to school, they will probably even be more intelligent. Allowing a spouse to become the best person they can be, and to use all of their gifts will allow for a happier spouse and a better marriage.
If you purchased a young plant in a pot at a nursery, if properly cared for, it will grow and bloom into a beautiful plant with maybe beautiful flowers or vegetables. But to keep it in the same little pot and stunt its growth by not allowing it to reach its full potential would be unfair. And the same goes for our mates. We should nurture them and allow them to become the best they can be. Not only will that allow for a happier person, but also for a happier mate, and happy marriage.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Karen Hellier