If you want to know the secrets of a happy marriage, you’re in for a treat!
Contrary to popular belief, marriage doesn’t need to be hard. I’m serious! I often hear people complain that relationships take a ton of work, and while I agree you need to be intentional with your time and SHOW UP for yourself and your spouse if you want to live happily ever after together, I don’t believe these things are difficult if you’re both on the same page.
If you want to know the secrets to marital bliss, here are 11 habits you can adopt today for a healthier and happier relationship.
11 Simple Secrets of a Happy Marriage
1) Be Intentional
The first on my list of secrets of a happy marriage is to be intentional. Happiness in any relationship takes time and commitment, and being deliberate with your words, actions, and how you spend your time can go a long way in helping you connect in a positive way with your significant other. Instead of yelling ‘goodbye’ from the depths of your home when your spouse leaves each morning, make it a point to come to the front door and see him or her off with a kiss and a hug and wishes for a good day. Send text messages or emails throughout the day to let him or her know they’re in your thoughts. Greet each other with a smile at the end of the day, and find other ways to show affection and care wherever you can.
2) Share Something Positive
I once read an article about habits of happy people, and one of the tips in the post has stuck with me ever since. I can’t remember the details, nor do I remember who to credit for this brilliant idea, but the gist was that this person was in a difficult season at work, and one day realized he was allowing that negativity to snowball into every other area of his life – including his marriage. So, he developed a new rule.
RULE: Think of one positive thing that happened during the day, and share that thing with his wife when he got home.
Of course, it’s human nature to unload onto our loved ones the moment we see or speak to them after a difficult day, but many people have a tendency to focus ONLY on sharing the bad parts of their day with their S.O. instead of leading with the good stuff. When you start with something positive – even if it’s just a compliment you received or a meme that made you laugh – you are much less likely to dwell on the negative, which sets a much happier tone.
3) Prioritize Quality Time
If you’ve searched online for the secrets of a happy marriage, you’ve likely heard the importance of scheduling regular date nights so you can connect with your spouse without distraction. I’m a firm believer that this is important, but as a parent, I also understand that it’s not always realistic. Babysitters are hard to come by (not to mention expensive), kids get sick, and many of us don’t have family close by to lean on when we’re in need of a night out. But that doesn’t mean you can’t spend one-on-one time with your S.O.! CLICK HERE for some of our favorite budget-friendly at-home date night ideas!
4) Be Honest
I used to be one of those people who said one thing but meant another, and then got annoyed when the other person didn’t read between the lines. Looking back, it was completely ridiculous, but assertiveness isn’t something that was taught or encouraged when I was growing up. It took a long time for me to feel strong enough to say what was on my mind, but I eventually learned that being direct and honest is the key to a happy relationship. If you’re waiting for your spouse to look for hidden meanings behind your words and actions, you will be disappointed every single time.
5) Don’t Try to One-Up Each Other
Have you ever argued with your spouse about who is the most tired, or who did the most around the house over the weekend? I think we’re all guilty of this, particularly those of us with young children, but what I’ve learned is that everything is relative. Even though you were up all night with a sick child, it doesn’t mean your spouse isn’t feeling just as worn out with that big project he or she has been working on for the last 3 months. When we try to one-up our S.O., we end up making them defensive, which can make an already stressful situation worse than it needs to be. Remember that you are a team, and instead of comparing notes of who has it worse, find ways you can help each other out.
6) Celebrate Each Other
One of the things I love the most about my husband is that he celebrates every single one of my wins. He brags about me to anyone who will listen, and never, ever, talks badly about me – even when he has every reason to (lol). And when he has a big win of his own, he’s quick to thank me for making up the differences at home so he can hyper-focus on his job. It is so refreshing and wonderful, and has taught me so much. It can be especially difficult to celebrate the successes of our spouses when we’ve put our own careers on hold to raise children, but when you start seeing each accomplishment as a joint effort and acknowledge each other’s contributions, it completely changes your perspective.
7) Have Your Own Life
Another of the secrets to a happy marriage I swear by is to have a life outside of your partner. This is typically easier for younger couples without kids as they typically each have their own careers and friends. But once children come along, I often see a great divide whereby one person continues working in an office while the other stays home. This works beautifully for some, but many stay-at-home parents feel as though they don’t have a life outside of their spouse and children, which causes them to feel unhappy and inevitably causes strain in their marriage. I’m a firm believer in the importance of having your own life, whether it be a full-blown career, part-time side hustle, or volunteer work within the community. Not only does this provide a sense of importance and fulfillment, but it also gives you something to talk about at the end of the day with your spouse!
8) Think: ‘Will This Matter in 5 Years?’
While I think it’s important to speak up when something is bothering you, I’m also a big believer in the notion of choosing our battles wisely. Before starting an argument over something small and inconsequential and potentially ruining a nice day with your spouse, ask yourself if whatever is bothering you will matter 5 years from now. Chances are the answer is no, so think twice before you speak. And if the issue is big enough to warrant a conversation, consider waiting until you’ve calmed down so the issue is resolved without unnecessary hurt and drama.
9) Practice Random Acts of Kindness
A little kindness can go a long way, and if you’re looking for the secrets to a happy marriage, this is definitely something to try. Send a racy text message to your spouse, show up at his or her office spontaneously with coffee or lunch, organize a surprise date night, send him or her flowers or a fruit arrangement, write a poem, or do whatever else you can think of to remind him or her you are thinking of them.
10) Outsource the Things You Hate Doing
When we first became parents, my husband and I were bone tired 100% of the time. I had no idea how little babies slept, and inevitably saved all the laundry and housework for the weekends when my husband was home and could help. The only problem is, he did not want to clean on the weekends and doesn’t care about those things as much as me. For 2 years, he asked me to hire a cleaning lady so we didn’t have to spend our time together scrubbing toilets, but my own insecurities over not being able to stay on top of everything prevented me from doing this. The result? I ended up doing everything on the weekends (mostly) by myself, all the while feeling annoyed. And then one day he phrased things differently. He said, ‘I do not want either of us to spend our weekends doing household stuff. I would rather we spend the time together having fun and making memories as a family. Please hire a cleaning lady so we can have our weekends back.’ And so I did, and it was the best decision I ever made.
If you and your spouse constantly butt heads over certain tasks or activities, take the time to brainstorm ways you can work collaboratively to take them off your plate. And if you can’t afford to outsource these items, find ways to simplify. Divide and conquer, and designate one or two evenings a week where you tackle these items so you don’t have to deal with them on the weekends.
11) Never Take Each Other for Granted
It is so easy to take the people we love the most for granted. We assume they will always be there for us, and that they will love us no matter what, but the reality is that this simply isn’t true. Today is a gift, and tomorrow isn’t promised. Tell your spouse how much you love him or her, follow it up with your actions, and never go to bed angry.
I hope these secrets of a happy marriage inspire you to be more intentional with your significant other. Remember to be open and honest, to prioritize quality time together, to celebrate each other’s wins and encourage independence, and to never (ever) take each other for granted.