We’ve all seen those articles online, you know the ones… they usually talk about how you can be a better wife, or tell you ways to serve your husband, or some other form of making you feel like you’re not good enough… this is not one of those articles.
I am absolutely, blissfully married. That’s not to say we haven’t had our challenges, believe me, we have. But we’re both on marriage #2 so we’ve got some insight on what happens when things don’t the way we planned.
I was determined to make sure my second marriage was nothing like my first. I set out to learn everything I could about marriage, the psychology of relationships, and how to make them work.
I researched, I read, I learned… I even spoke to over 1000 people about their marriages and wrote a book about it.
I’m not a relationship expert, but I have spent a long time studying successful marriages, what it takes to have a happy marriage and healthy relationship, and the little things that made a difference between just getting by in marriage and actually being happy.
I came across so many interesting findings and had some incredible conversations, and found that a happy marriage isn’t necessarily hard work, but it is a conscious effort.
This is why it’s important to know these tips, so you can be a good spouse, but to have a beautiful healthy marriage:
1 – Put Each Other First, Always
As someone who is all for empowering yourself, I am a massive advocate of putting yourself first.
After all, without your own needs being met, you cannot possibly take care of others and be of help to others?
However, when my husband and I began dating, something wonderful occurred: I gradually stopped having to put myself first.
I didn’t have to make an effort to ensure that my needs were being met physically, emotionally, and mentally.
I didn’t have to try hard to be happy intentionally. Because he was handling everything for me.
I know not everyone is fortunate enough to have their spouse in this department, and that’s fine.
Some marriages function differently, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to a happy and successful marriage.
But for us, I know I don’t have to put myself first because I know my husband always does. Just as I always do for him.
He recognizes when I need time out or when I’m going through tough times, and need to take a break.
He is there to support me and encourage me in all of my wild endeavors (even if he looks at me strangely and wonders how on earth I’m going to achieve my goals).
He encourages me to sleep in when I need it, sends me out to coffee with my friends (alone) to ensure I’m getting enough ‘me’ time.
And I do the same for him too. It’s pretty darn amazing.
Putting each other first simply means that you’re always thinking of each other, always looking for ways to make each other happy and make each other smile, recognizing each other’s needs and making sure they are being met.
2 – Argue, But Don’t Fight
Let me just put this to rest right now – not all couples fight. And not all couples argue… but some do, and that’s okay.
But you need to understand there’s a big difference between arguing and fighting.
Arguing can be a healthy form of communication for some people (not all) and is often a way people debate a topic.
Fighting is not healthy, ever.
Arguing looks like:
- Disagreements about a particular topic
- Sometimes heated discussion, usually able to be discussed calmly
- Able to listen to each other and hear each other’s point of view
- Sometimes emotional and may need to take a break
- Able to be respectful and still feel like you can cuddle after
- Come to a conclusion that may be a compromise, or may be an ‘agree to disagree’
Fighting looks like:
- Yelling and loud protests
- Always heated discussion
- Name calling and swearing
- Personal attacks
- Feeling uneasy, scared or threatened
- Actual threats being made
- Not focused on a solution, only on who is ‘right’
You can see there is a big difference. Fighting should never happen in a relationship, at least not a healthy one.
The next time you have a disagreement, ask yourself if you’re having an argument or a fight based on the points above.
The good news is, even if you have previously been fighting rather than arguing, it doesn’t mean you’re destined for an unhappy marriage. Take a little time to work out why you’ve been fighting and learn new and more effective methods for communication.
3 – Don’t Stress About Date Night (But Do Make Time)
I’ve lost count of the number of ‘marriage tips’ articles I’ve read that have said that you need to have date nights in order to have a happy marriage.
But the thing is, this isn’t always possible.
We went through years without being able to have regular date nights (or date nights at all!!). With work, babies, running a business… life… it just didn’t happen.
But you know what? It didn’t have a detrimental effect on our marriage because we still made time for each other.
You don’t need to go out for dinner and a movie in order to connect with your spouse and have a happy marriage, but you do need to make time for each other.
Don’t expect your spouse to just know this – if you want time, if you want to be able to spend time together, then you initiate it.
Once it becomes regular and something you just do, you won’t even need to think about it anymore, it will just happen.
4 – Understand Each Others Love Languages
We’re all different, but there are some similarities between us that means we can learn to understand each other better.
This is where the concept of love languages comes into play.
There are five love languages (if you don’t know what they are, go and take the quiz now), and if you pay attention to your spouse’s love language, it massively helps to strengthen your relationship.
Take the quiz together, talk about your results and give actual examples of ways you like to be shown love.
So many people get frustrated because their spouse isn’t showing them love, but what’s really happening is that their spouse isn’t speaking their language.
We all have our own ways of showing love, and ways we want to be shown love, but learning and understanding each other’s love language has to be the best tip to a lasting marriage and can even help you understand your spouse’s personality more.
5 – Stop Playing Games
One of the more negative traits that kept coming up when I was interviewing couples about marriage and relationships were these ‘games’.
Petty games if you will.
Actually, ‘game’ is probably not even the right word because there are no winners.
I’m talking about things like giving each other the silent treatment, saying one thing and expecting another, doing things like saying you don’t want gifts for your birthday, and then getting cranky and upset when you don’t get any gifts…
Mind games that are only meant to cause emotional pain to your spouse… it’s horrible.
Instead of playing games, communicate.
Instead of giving the silent treatment, learn more effective communication methods.
Instead of saying one thing and meaning another, say what you mean. Talk to each other.
And if you get upset because you don’t get gifts, revisit point #4 of this article and see if ‘receiving gifts’ is a love language of yours, and if it is – communicate that! Or, alternatively, buy yourself the gift.
When you communicate exactly what your needs are (instead of getting annoyed that your husband can’t read your mind) then you’re more likely to have your needs actually met.
6 – But Remember To Have Fun
With all this talk of communicating and understanding each other better, you may be thinking that there is no time for fun.
But actually, it works the other way around – if you’re having fun together, then communicating with each other becomes so much easier.
Having fun together is really important in a marriage (in my opinion).
It goes a long way to lighten the mood, helps you to focus on the good things in life, and is just straight-up fun and enjoyable.
And as such, it’s a great way to connect with your spouse and make memories together.
Do you remember all those years ago when we first started dating? We had so much fun… we were like two teenagers who didn’t even notice the time passing (or maybe it was just me…).
Find ways to have that level of fun again… be silly, wrestle, laugh together, tell jokes… have fun!
Yes, we have busy days, but taking some time to give your spouse your full attention, and express love in different ways like through play and joking around, is such a good way to spend some quality time together without even having to leave the house.
7 – Connect Every Day
I swear there are times where I could easily drift around my husband for days on end barely having a conversation. We often are like ships in the night, which working shiftwork surely doesn’t help.
It doesn’t even have to be during hard times, sometimes we are just so exhausted at the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is engage in a conversation.
And while it’s easy to just use this as an excuse for not talking to each other, we know how important it is to make connections.
You don’t have to have a big deep and meaningful conversation with each other, and some days you might not even talk, but making intentional movements of connection each day is important.
Some of the best ways you can do is send a text message asking how their day is going, hold hands while you’re on the couch at night (too exhausted to talk), cuddle in bed, take time for a longer hug, write a little love note, put the coffee out ready for them, look them in the eye when you say ‘I love you’.
8 – Understand You Are Two Individuals
You may be a team but you’re not one singular being.
For some reason, so many people think that when you become a married person, you magically form one person.
Yes, you are a couple and you share your life together… but you are still two individuals with your own thoughts, feelings, dreams and goals.
And it’s important to respect each other’s individuality while also showing that you love them as part of your couple.
That means giving each other space to do what makes them happy.
If you want to spend the night with your best friend watching Netflix and eating popcorn, watch Netflix and eat popcorn with your bestie!
If your spouse wants to do whatever it is he wants to do on his own, then don’t discourage him or make him feel guilty for not wanting to spend every waking second with you.
If you’re finding that the individual time to couple time ratio is a little off, talk about it!
Make sure you’re communicating your needs so they can be met.
9 – Don’t Take It To Heart
Okay, this one is a little generalizing, but hear me out.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve overanalyzed something my husband has said or done, thinking he was in a bad mood or that I had done something wrong.
I spend ages trying to figure out what I had done or said to upset him, or what could have possibly happened.
After a while, I always approach my husband about it, and 99% of the time his response is usually something so basic, and while I spent the last few hours overanalyzing, he had absolutely no idea what was going on.
I kid you not, one day I went through this process and he was just hungry…
The moral of the story? Don’t take everything to heart. If you’re worried about something, ask. Talk about it. He might be hungry… (I’m kidding… but also… he might).
10 – Take An Interest In What Is Important To Him
When you first meet your spouse, being interested in what is important to them seems like the easiest thing in the world… because when they talk about their work or hobbies, you could listen for hours.
But after a while, things become routine and maybe even boring to hear about. Maybe you’ve heard it before, or it doesn’t interest you so you tune it out.
And I know for sure there are a whole lot of things that I find interesting and love talking about that don’t even show up on my husband’s radar.
While we do try to find some common interests, the reality is that we are still two individual people who have different interests.
When I’m raving on about my latest business venture, or printable planners, or SEO, even though I know it bores him so much, it makes me feel so loved when he takes an interest.
So I make sure I do the same for him, even if it’s just a little bit.
I have almost zero interest in lawn care or archery, but I listen to my husband talk about fertilizing schedules and new targets for practice.
But they are important things to him so I pay attention.
11 – Plan Your Future Together
Nothing brings me more comfort and excitement than a plan (seriously, I love planning…), but one of the things I’ve noticed in all of my research and talking to couples is that there are so many couples who dont’ actually plan their future together.
They plan their future with each other, as in both of them will be part of their future, but they don’t go through the planning process together, talking about what they both want.
Take some time to actually talk to each other about what you want your future to look like, what are you working towards, what are your goals, what do you want?
It’s an important thing to actually plan this together, not only does it show mutual respect for each other and that you believe both of your goals, and desires for the future are important, but it also helps you to understand your spouse’s goals and desires on a deeper level.
This isn’t about being the best wife, or how to solve every relationship problem, but hopefully, it can be a little positive marriage advice that helps create more happy couples.
A strong marriage doesn’t just magically happen. It’s a conscious choice that is made in your everyday life where you continue to make your marriage and your spouse a priority.