30 things to do to have a long and happy marriage
I am not a doctor or psychologist, I don’t even play one on tv! I am not an expert at all…at least not officially. I do however have a bit of experience (28 years married this May) and a very happy marriage so a I decided I wanted to share what works for us and for our marriage. This is not a scientific double blind government approved type study. This is me and my husband. Bumbling through life together. That is it.
I have posted about marriage before (click here), but this is a more encompassing post on the subject instead of a single topic. When it comes to love and marriage, I have a lot to say I guess.
My parents will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year, my husband’s parents also had a very long and happy marriage. Our homes were full of laughter and compromise. Love and understanding. Trials and triumphs. We learned by their example and by our own trial and error.
Not everyone has that type of example, but that does not mean you can’t have a long and amazing marriage. You just may need a little help, some support, a reminder, or a few pointers. Or maybe a basic map to help you navigate the road ahead. It is a long, winding, scenic, sometimes even bumpy road. However, it is most definitely worth the trip. Now I don’t know if this list could be considered a road map to marriage by any means, but it could be perhaps a rough outline. Something to reference or get you headed in the right direction if you are off course a bit.
So here is my list (in no particular order) of things to do to have a long and happy marriage. What would you add?
1: Laugh. Laugh at yourself, laugh at your spouse, laugh at the absurdity of life. Just laugh.
2: Focus on the positive. Don’t fall into the trap of complaining constantly, it is a tough habit to break once established. It can also spiral quickly into a pervasive bad mood. Yes, you get to have a gripe session when needed. Just don’t unpack and live there.
3: Pay attention. Little details make the biggest difference. Paying attention to your spouse’s “favorites”, being aware of their mood, knowing when something big is going on at work, etc. All of these things express your love and let them know how important they are to you.
4: Forgive, after all you are both human. You will make mistakes. This person that you love will also make mistakes.
5: Don’t keep score. Don’t tally up how many times you did the dishes, how many times your spouse forgot to pick up milk, who makes more money, who has the harder job, who works the longer hours, etc. If you keep in your mind that you love this person and want them to be happy and they do that for you, you don’t need a scorecard. You will both be giving 100% and both be receiving 100%.
6: Keep your own cup full too. Take care of yourself. Eat healthy, get your rest, see the doctor, exercise, enjoy a hobby…whatever you need to do to recharge your battery and stay healthy. When your own cup is full you can more easily pour out to others.
7: Say please and thank you. Manners are always important. No matter how long you are married and how comfortable you are with each other, remember that manners are a sign of respect and appreciation. Thank them for fixing dinner, fixing the car or saying please when you ask them to stop for milk on the way home or get you a cup of coffee. Simple, but so very powerful.
8: Ask about each others day. And listen to the answer. Be present. Ask questions. Remember important things so you can ask about them later.
9: ALWAYS kiss hello, good bye, and good night.
10: Treat their family with respect. You may or may not get along with a family member but that does not matter. You don’t have to be friends but you do have to be respectful.
11: Appreciate what they do…and tell them so. Notice those ‘I love yous’ that are actions and not words. Notice and comment on them. Let your mate know you appreciate them and what they are doing.
12: Stroll down memory lane now and then. Remember why you fell in love and tell each other stories from ‘back in the day’.
13: Always be dating. Flirt. Put your best self forward more. Smile. Listen. Go out together.
14: Do things together. Develop rituals and traditions. Even mundane things like Friday night movie cuddled on the couch, or Saturday morning yardwork, or having breakfast together no matter what, all make an ‘in this together’ or an ‘this is our thing’ feeling of closeness.
15: Recognize each others needs for time, attention, being alone, quiet, fun, or whatever your partner may be lacking at the moment. Focus on the giving rather than the taking.
16: Celebrate your spouse. Be each others biggest cheerleader.
17: Spend time alone together and always keep the friendship side of your marriage alive and well fed. Talk, laugh, play, and continue to connect throughout your marriage.
18: Be intimate and physically demonstrative with each other. Both sexual and non-sexual closeness and touching are very important to a happy marriage. Touching is vital to growing and keeping that closeness a good marriage needs. It also improve health and mood. From a hand on the arm while chatting, to hand holding, shoulder rubs, hugs, kisses and on and on all the way through sex…it is all important.
19: Arguments and disagreements will happen but recognize that most arguments have shared responsibility, that both people have valid points and valid reasons for their feelings. Listen to understand instead of to reply. Let go of criticism and blame. Fight fair. You should at least be nice, no matter what. Recognize that the underlying shared values and commitment to the relationship is greater than this single argument or your desire to be right.
20: Make your marriage a top priority. It started with the two of you and in the end it will be just the two of you once again. Pray for and with each other. Faith is so important to the sanctity of your marriage.
21: Use these sentences daily: “I love you”(you just can’t possibly use this one enough!) , “I’m here for you”, “I understand”, “I’m sorry”, “Thank you”, and “I really appreciate all that you do”.
22: RESPECT. Keep insults out of your marriage. There is no place for name calling, being mean, and belittling. Always, always speak well of, and to, your spouse. Do not cause pain with your words.
23: Accept them as they are. Your job is not to change them, just to love, honor and respect them.
24: You are entitled to a bad mood. You are not however entitled to take it out on your mate. Simply saying “Honey I am in an awful mood, I am sorry but I don’t feel like joking around right now.” Will go a long way to keeping the peace. If you do snap at your spouse… own it and apologize.
25: Support each others interests and hobbies. Go cheer them on at the big race, surprise them with hobby supplies, listen when they excitedly tell you about the game/craft show/club/book/recipe/ or whatever it might be.
26: Keep your promises. It is all about trust and respect.
27: Share your dreams and your fears. Talk. Listen. Always be truthful.
28: Don’t just commit to your mate, commit to the whole concept of marriage. Choose your spouse every single day. Take your commitment seriously.
29: Never, ever, no matter what go to bed without saying “I love you”. Even if you are away for work, angry, sick….no matter what. No excuse.
30. Simply put, Love each other unconditionally. If something is off, address it right away. Fix it, don’t throw it away. Till death do us part is a huge commitment. It may not always be simple, life may throw you curve balls and rough roads. Remember you are in it together and that will make all the difference.
Laugh. Laugh at yourself, laugh at your spouse, laugh at the absurdity of life. Click To Tweet