There are so many practical things to do to make your marriage stronger and better. Of course, it takes work, sometimes hard work, but there are proven ways to give happiness a great chance of success. Each of these ideas, shared by five real couples, has a proven track record – and, often, won’t cost a cent.
That said, the two most common elements the couples interviewed shared were sincerity and consistency. “Giving one or two items a try every once in while just won’t cut it,” said one of the couples – and we couldn’t agree more.
“Communication and time together are essential”
If you spend time together, it follows that you’ll communicate with each other. A hallmark of a strong marriage is that the couple talk – and share, especially of their time. Yes, it’s good to have a little time to yourself, but time together is absolutely essential, and that doesn’t mean you in one room of the house and your spouse pottering around in another. It means quality time spent doing things together, even if it’s just a meal or doing the laundry. Do it together – and don’t do it in silence.
“There’s no holiday from good manners!”
No matter how long you’ve been married, there is no cause to disrespect your spouse in any way. Treat them kindly and well and the feelings will be reciprocated… eventually!
“Be affectionate and physical”
Being affectionate doesn’t just refer to sex. It’s about physical contact and genuine affection, as the word indicates. By holding hands, kissing, hugging or even just sharing the odd high five, you are communicating in that all-important non-verbal way. And, it’s about connecting with your spouse, physically outside the bedroom.
We all have opinions but some of us tend to overdose on enthusiasm when it comes to sharing them. Yes, for some of us it’s all good and natural behaviour but you’ll strengthen your marriage no end by become less of a talker and more of a listener. Or, at the very least, listening as MUCH as you talk.
“Truly understand the expression that ‘we agree to disagree’”
No couple will see eye to eye on every single topic throughout their marriage. Expect there to be (the odd) argument or clash. Try to discuss such contentious subjects in a reasonable way by all means, but if you can’t agree, then agree to disagree. If you both adopt that policy, your ‘conflict moments’ will be far easier to handle.
“Temper tantrums aren’t for adults”
The expression, ‘the terrible twos’, applies to toddlers who can’t get their way and, consequently, resort to foot-stamping, screaming and … well, a hissy fit. Never, repeat never, become a two-year-old with your spouse. Take responsibility for your own behaviour and treat your partner with respect. Every marriage becomes stronger when the hissy fit becomes extinct.
“Don’t let issues simmer”
Nip things in the bud. It really is excellent advice. If you feel something is not working in your marriage, don’t let your concern fester and grow. Take action ASAP. Be prepared to try different remedies and do so sooner rather than later.
“Sharing is caring”
There has to be a sharing of tasks in every marriage. Of course, sometimes one partner wants to do a particular task. But helping one another, especially with the basic things like shopping, housekeeping and child-rearing, goes a long way to building a strong and rewarding marriage.
And rather than see it as a chore, look on it as a way to make your life and your marriage better.
“There is no use-by date”
Love within a marriage doesn’t have to end. Of course, in some cases, it does, but understand that love can, and often does, continue. Love can be limitless; you just need to know how to tap into the reservoir.
“Treat your spouse how you’d like to be treated”
By treating your partner with love, respect and kindness, you encourage them to respond in kind. It’s the old Law of Reciprocity. By working hard at being a better half in a marriage, you feel better yourself and prompt your other half to return the favour.
“Abandon the mind reading”
Many married couples assume they know the thinking of their partner. Don’t assume anything. Allow them to fully explain their point of view. In return, make sure you are crystal clear in explaining your thoughts on the matter. Explain and listen. Do not assume.
“There is no ‘I’ in ‘team'”
I beats you every time. People say you are being selfish by always taking about yourself. It’s I this and I that. Maybe, but using I is usually better than using you. You do this and you do that are not conducive to good communication. Rather than tell your partner what they’re doing, explain how you are feeling and build the conversation from there.
“We all have faults, even if we don’t see them”
It only takes a simple change. Concentrate on the good and let go of the bad. By appreciating the finer qualities of your partner, you satisfy them. By not harping on their faults – you have faults too, remember – life together becomes much more enjoyable
“Stop and count to 10”
Something happens which upsets you. The easy response is to lose your cool, to blame your partner and make a fuss. Try this simple procedure. Count slowly to 10. It helps if you take some deep breaths as well. Learning how to react calmly and seek a solution, beats the pants off going crazy and blaming your partner.
“Compliments are catching”
Saying something nice to your partner, often, never goes amiss. Remember in the introduction we mentioned being sincere. That goes without saying. So a sincere compliment is another brick in the ever-strengthening foundation of your happy marriage.
“Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you can’t date (each other)”
Pre-marriage, dating was fun and exciting. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean an end to those dates. Take it in turns to choose the venue and activity. Add surprises. Make it a regular weekly, fortnightly or monthly occasion.
“Meditate on your happy memories”
There will have been many marvellous moments in your married life. Spend some time; just a couple of minutes is fine, every day meditating on those special times. You may find your appreciation for your partner increases as you spend more time remembering those happy moments rather than constantly re-playing the sad ones.
Any marriage where one partner controls the other is never as happy or as strong as a marriage where each contributes and connects with the other. Concentrate on communicating and truly listening – and avoid trying to pull any strings. You’re not a puppeteer!
“Never jump straight in”
If you want to raise a point about something which has upset you, always begin with a preamble. ‘Honey, there’s something I think we should discuss,’ beats the pants off a complaint or demand right off the bat. Lead gently into the night.
“Know your opposition”
Though this, generally applies to sport and business rather than marriage, it’s an excellent piece of advice for couples. In any dispute, always make sure you know and understand your partner’s point of view. Don’t get caught up in your own argument. Be aware of your partner’s POV.
“Trust makes the world go round”
Lack of trust creates tension and problems. The opposite is true. Trust creates confidence and happiness. You feel better trusting your partner and they feel better knowing they are trusted.
Having a list of some, even all of these tips is a good idea. Reading the list every now and then is also a good idea. Putting the tips in to practice is the best idea of all.