Cover Image: Drew Coffman via Unsplash
If you want to make your marriage last, you’re going to have to put some work into it. You can’t just expect it to thrive on its own if you don’t put any effort into making it as healthy as possible. Here are 10 pieces of advice on how to do that!
1. Think Before You Speak
Sometimes, in our daily lives, we might feel like marriage is just one stressful event after another. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or ready to toss in the towel, remember to think before you speak. Always consider how your words will affect your spouse. Even when they don’t react how you want them to, or when they say something rude back—it doesn’t matter. It takes two people who are committed to working as a team to make it through life together as husband and wife. There will be times when one person does more than their fair share, but don’t forget about all those times that your spouse did more too!
2. Always talk to your spouse with respect
Now that you’re married, you and your spouse have committed to spending your lives together. That means there are no I’m right, and you’re wrong arguments. Even if you don’t agree with what he or she says, always respect what your spouse has to say. It may be tough in the moment to bite your tongue or swallow a sharp retort, but it will show everyone involved how much you care about them—including yourself. It also builds respect between partners over time. That isn’t something that happens overnight; it’s something built into every relationship by being respectful of each other even when things get heated or uncomfortable.
3. Try to keep it positive
Arguing is part of being married, but you can keep it positive by focusing on feelings and not just facts. In a study published in Emotion, people reported more successful relationships when they expressed their emotions as opposed to just sharing information. This means that saying something like I feel disappointed because we’re running late again is likely to be better received than I’m disappointed because we are running late again. The former acknowledges how your partner makes you feel and suggests that there could be some compromise involved. A simple word choice can turn an argument into a healthy discussion. Learning how to communicate better in your marriage will help foster respect and understanding between you both so that even if you do fight, you can resolve your differences quickly and peacefully.
4. Forgive, forget, and move on
Sure, there’s value in working through your problems, but if you need to forgive someone you love in order to feel better about your relationship, consider doing so. Holding on to resentment and anger doesn’t help anyone—it just drags everyone down. As difficult as it may be, work at releasing any negative feelings toward others and learn how to move forward with your life. A happy marriage is all about building up one another and being supportive; if that means forgiveness is in order, go ahead and get it out of the way.
5. Go out on dates with your spouse
No matter how many years you’ve been married, it is important to make time to spend with your spouse. Plan dates and set aside time each week just for your spouse. You could go out to dinner together, go shopping, or simply sit down and talk about each other’s day at work. If you do not have children yet, consider spending some alone time once in a while. Even if you already have children, there is always some way that you can carve out some quality family time. Whether that means finding a babysitter once in a while or scheduling an entire evening without any distractions so that you can enjoy one another’s company.
6. Accept individual differences in personality traits
Accepting your partner’s personality, including her attitudes, values, and interests, is a key part of having a happy marriage. If you try to change your spouse too much or expect him to change in order to be happy together, you will experience disappointment instead. Instead, focus on what brings you two together as individuals and accept that it’s okay if he loves different activities or TV shows than you do. His quirks are what make him an individual, after all!
7. Have fun together
Even if you’re exhausted and stressed, you can still make time to have fun. No matter what kind of stress you’re facing—whether it’s kids, money, or work-related—making time to play together is key to keeping your marriage strong – spend an evening trying out a new restaurant; plan a walk in nature; watch (or create) silly videos on YouTube, or just take time to talk without distractions like TV or phone.
8. Avoid arguments about the little things
Small issues are a big deal in marriage. They’re like tiny cracks in a windowpane; one might not notice at first, but eventually, they can grow so large that they become impassable. To help your marriage stay strong, don’t argue about things that are relatively unimportant. Although an issue may seem trivial to you and seem to have no long-term effects on your relationship, it could be an indication of larger problems down the road. Stay on track with these 10 pieces of advice for healthy marriages.
9. Don’t hang out with people who make you uncomfortable
I’m sure your partner has some friends you might not totally relate to, but it’s important to remember that he or she chose them as friends. If you feel like these people are weirding you out, trust your gut and spend less time with them. You don’t need someone coming in between you and your spouse; it will only cause problems down the road. And who knows? Maybe you’ll find out that they aren’t as bad as they seem when push comes to shove!
10. Tell them you love them often
I still hear that little voice in my head saying, ‘Don’t forget to tell your spouse you love them,’ and I do that every day. It reinforces that we have each other and we’re committed to making it work, says Ross. Say it in a note, or send an email or text message while they are at work or out with friends. You can even make it part of your morning ritual—wake up early to write them an email telling them how much you love them before they head off to work. It doesn’t have to be sappy; just let them know what you appreciate about them and how much they mean to you.