My marriage is very important to me, and one of things that contributes to my livelihood. I love my husband dearly, and part of me living a balanced life is to do all I can to have a happy marriage.
People are always asking the question: “What are the secrets to a happy marriage?” They don’t ask me this question, of course, since I’ve only been married for four years, but I have heard the question being asked to “seasoned” married couples (those married at least 20 years or more).
Based on advice that I’ve been given (and advice that I have read online), there seems to be a common theme-marriage involves making it work. Couples have to make a marriage work and not be under the illusion that it will last “naturally.”
Maybe that is the big secret-because otherwise the divorce rate in America would not be so high.
While I have not found any official studies on America’s divorce rate, all information that I have found online indicates that the divorce rate in America is somewhere around 45-50%.
Entering matrimony with the mindset that “divorce is not an option” is vital for the long-term success of marriage. This concept can be simplified into one word: commitment. Yes, love is important in a marriage, but love is a complicated thing. Most people consider that “butterflies in the stomach” feeling to be love, but that “honeymoon period” is something that fades over time. Real (and long-lasting) love involves respect and commitment. Commitment seems to be the virtue sorely missing from today’s marriages.
While my husband and I have definitely had our “trying” times, I can confidently say that we’ve learned a lot about marriage over the past four years-some things we never really put a lot of thought into-prior to jumping to broom.
Here are some of personal notes on marriage.
1. A big part of a happy marriage is accepting the differences of others.
In the beginning, my husband was much better at this than I was, but I am coming around. He will be the first to tell you that I was quick to point out his “faults” and the things that bugged me about him (now keep in mind that these things may not have been major things at all-I just wanted him to do things my way-not that “my way” was the “right way” at all!).
This type of attitude will not contribute to a happy marriage over the long-run. Constant criticism of your spouse could lead to resentment-by both parties. It is better to just accept and embrace each other’s differences. No one is perfect.
2. Be willing to listen, compromise, and give.
Open the communication lines as frequently as possible, and express your frustrations. Not only that-but talk about what makes you happy in the marriage too! Positive reinforcement is the best kind! It is very important to create and nurture an environment where open, honest communication is welcomed and treated with diligent respect.
I highly recommend all couples (already married or leading to marriage) read the bestselling book, The 5 Love Languages, by Dr. Gary Chapman. The author, a veteran marriage counselor, noticed that everyone he had ever counseled had a “love language”-a primary way of expressing and interpreting love. Of the countless ways we can show love to one another, five key categories-or love languages-proved to be universal and comprehensive. These languages are Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.
Find out what your partner’s “love language” is and speak that language to them-often.
3. Have respect for one another-and simply treat your spouse the way you want them to treat you.
No yelling, name-calling, or quickly and nonchalantly dismissing any of your partner’s concerns/requests/desires. While you can have respect without love, it is not possible to have love in a marriage without respect.
4. Take time for each other-make “date night” a priority.
The day-to-day responsibilities in life and in marriage can sometimes be overwhelming and frustrating. It is so important to take time out just to enjoy each other-without the kids, outside of work, without worries. My husband and I have a date at least once a week, and it is really a highlight for both of us. We take time to just enjoy a nice dinner or a movie or an afternoon at a park or a concert…well, I think you get the picture. We genuinely enjoy each other’s company, so any time alone is very much appreciated.
My hope is that everyone gets to experience the satisfaction and joy of a happy marriage. Now that the “secret” is out, let’s get started.