Five ways to Make a Happy Marriage Happier
So my husband and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary last week. When we first got married and had a disagreement, I was known to say, “Fifty years is a long time, James.” And it is a long time. But life speeds by faster than you think; here it is twenty years later, and somehow, fifty years doesn’t seem so long any more.
So how does a couple stay happily married? Here are some things that have worked for us.
1. Be friends
First and foremost, be friends. Like any other friendship, you have to work at it. Talk, spend time together, encourage each other, and allow each other space. Respect your differences and forgive each other when you mess up (because you will).
2. Get away together
The first time we went away together when our kids were little, we had a long drive to get to a conference. As we talked (without interruptions from little people), something remarkable happened: we reconnected. I commented, “Now I remember why I married you.” Even though it is hard or money is tight, make getting away regularly a priority. We have unashamedly stayed in borrowed digs, traded childcare with friends, and taken advantage of work events so we could get some time together. Totally. Worth. It.
3. Listen to CBC radio
Ok, that may seem weird, and it doesn’t have to be CBC, but it is important to share something and have things to talk about outside your relationship. When I was a young mother at home with three small kids, listening to CBC radio gave me something to talk about besides ear infections, potty training and sibling rivalry.
4. Speak respectfully
One of the wisest things my mother ever said to me was that she didn’t want to hear about my little tiffs with my husband. She knew that I would likely get over it before she did, and she wanted to keep a good relationship with her son-in-law. My husband and I decided early on to only say positive things in public about each other. Save the hard conversations for private.
5. Laugh with (not at) your spouse
Laugh. Laugh a lot. Having a sense of humour can get you through almost anything. What can you do when the toilet overflows or the cat gets sick (on the carpet) or you break your deck (yes, it can happen!)? Use your sense of humour to ease the pain and inconvenience of life.
Now maybe your marriage is not happy or as happy as you would like it to be, and these ideas seem a bit simplistic. Sometimes we have challenges in our relationships that are painful and we can’t seem to see the upside. That is a great time to seek help together to find new ways of relating. That takes courage. But it just might lead to a happier and more satisfying marriage.