A happy marriage doesn’t just happen. It takes time and dedication to achieve. However luckily for you, working at it is a whole lot of fun. So, if your marriage could do with a connection boost, try incorporating some of these tips for a happy marriage into your everyday life.
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I’ve said it before – having a happy marriage largely comes down to picking the right person in the first place.
Whoever you’re married to HAS to care about your relationship, and about making it grow (even if he needs a little reminder about priorities now and then).
My husband and I have 10 must-have marriage habits.
In addition to those, there are some other important practices we follow that go a long way towards keeping our marriage strong, even when other aspects of our lives are tough.
Use each other’s strengths
When my husband and I first met, he was just over half-way through his university degree.
He had started and finished many times, but really struggled with both his confidence and also his time management, given that he was working full time.
Meanwhile I had a strong track record of academic achievement, and was used to distance study.
I showed my husband how to plan out his study into chunks and break down essay requirements.
We created an environment that supported him to work on his study in the evening and in the weekend.
I even started my Masters to keep him company.
In three years his degree was done.
Meanwhile, I had never, ever done any form of sustained exercise and the only running I’d done was to the corner shop when I needed chocolate.
Yet my husband was all over exercise – attending the gym several times a week and running in 10 km and half-marathon races.
After I watched most of my family participate in one such race, I decided I needed to up my game.
My husband coached me through that very first run (I still remember crying afterwards) all the way through to when I ran my first half marathon in 2017 with him by my side all the way.
I still run four times a week and credit it with keeping me sane.
When you work with each other’s strengths, great things happen.
In fact, one of our sayings is that “together there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.”
We are greater together than we are as individuals.
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Make time for magical moments
Every single day there is much to appreciate, but often in the daily rush we blink and miss it.
The sweet, rich scent of the gardenias blooming in the garden.
The colors of the sunset painted across the sky
The smell of rain in the air.
These make up those magical moments that connect us to nature.
Those magical moments can also help us connect to each other.
Just once a day, grab your husband, hold his hand, and stop and savor – together.
Be each other’s best friend
Yes, friendships are important. But the most important friendship of all is the one you have with your husband.
Your husband should be the first one to hear your good news.
He should be the one you turn to when things are bad.
He should know all your secrets.
He should be the person with whom you want to spend most of your time.
And the same goes for him of course!
People whose spouses are their best friends report DOUBLE the life satisfaction of those who have a best friends outside of the marriage (source).
And that makes sense – I can tell you from my own experience that it’s possible to think you’re in love with someone but not actually like them at all.
There is no quicker shortcut to unhappiness.
So make your husband your best friend and honor that friendship as much as you honor your love.
Try new things together
Novelty is a key factor in keeping your marriage satisfaction score high (source).
Build new things into your marriage – and I’m not just talking about in the bedroom!
Make a bucket list of local activities to try out together, and commit to doing them once a week.
Check out concerts, sports games, or art festivals.
Get in the car and drive to a place you’ve never visited.
If you struggle to think of ideas, check out these date ideas.
Speak their love language daily
Your love language is the means by which you give love and feel loved.
The five languages are: quality time, physical touch, gifts, words of affirmation, and acts of service.
My primary love languages are quality time and physical touch.
My husband’s are the same.
That makes us pretty lucky because speaking our love languages comes easily and naturally to us.
I didn’t find out about love languages until I’d already been divorced twice.
My first husband was not into forms of affection. When I read Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 love languages, suddenly I understood why I never felt loved by him.
Share bank accounts
I had all joint accounts with husband number one and also my current and forever husband.
However I didn’t with my second – we had one joint account yes, but it was used to pay for the mortgage, groceries and utilities.
I don’t think that it’s any coincidence that in the marriages where I shared accounts, I felt like part of a team.
There are plenty of arguments for sharing or not sharing.
Personally, I don’t care if I am never surprised by a gift.
I’d be mad if my husband spent our money on something significant without running it past me.
We don’t need an allowance, because we discuss what we’re spending our money on every fortnight and everyone gets what they need.
In addition, where there’s an income disparity, sharing all your accounts makes this a non-issue.
My second husband liked to spend money on things he didn’t want me to know about – things that would upset any woman. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I don’t like individual accounts.
However upon saying that, one of the other reasons we didn’t was that I also had my two children to support. I was receiving money for them from their dad and that money needed to be kept separate.
So while you need to consider where you’re at in your life and what makes the most sense, to me, going all in with your finances shows a) you’re committed and b) you’re a team.
Ask, “What do you need from me?”
Think about the last time you lashed out at your husband. Were you tired, upset or angry?
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However most of the time we’re not really angry at them.
I know that in my most Oscar the Grouch moments, underneath I’m feeling incredibly overwhelmed.
Rather than take it personally, there’s a simple sentence that you can ask when your partner behaves like that.
That sentence is, “What do you need from me?”
Most of the time what your other half needs is something simple like a hug, for you to put on a load of laundry, or even just make them a cup of coffee.
Try it next time!
Work on projects together
My husband and I have had some super-fun projects together.
Probably the first one was planning our wedding.
Another was building our house.
The third was planning an overseas trip.
We’ve nailed a joint half-marathon as well.
Now our big project is to work on our landscaping.
Working on projects together is the awesome-sauce to the sundae that’s your marriage.
First of all, you discuss the ideas. Then you make the decisions. You enact the plan, and you end up with something tangible that’s come from all your hard work.
Have shared goals
As an individual, you may know what you want out of life.
But do you have a strong shared vision for your life together as a couple?
Do you want to go hard with frugal living, saving and investing for the next ten years so you can retire early and travel the world?
Do you dream of having a boat or a campervan and spending your weekends cruising up and down the river, or parking up at some new locations?
So much of the joy of living comes from working towards a goal, so that joy is multiplied when the two of you are actively working towards it together.
Laugh with each other
My final habit is one of my favorites.
My husband and I have so many things we laugh about each day. Inside jokes, things our pets do, comedies we watch.
We even have ridiculous faces we pull at each other, and then ask if we look hot.
Laughter lowers blood pressure, reduces stress and just feels good!
A happy marriage doesn’t just happen. It takes time and dedication to achieve. However luckily for you, working at it is actually a whole lot of fun.
Whether it’s using each other’s strengths, being their best friend, trying new things, getting joint accounts, asking for what you need, laughing together or any of the other ideas mentioned, if you feel like your marriage could do with some life support, then try incorporating some of these practices into your daily life.