Happily ever after may require a lot of hard work. But with these 11 tips for a successful marriage, you and your spouse can definitely pull it off! By Lianne Choo
Meet Joyce, Theresa, David and Rohan. Joyce has been married for 17 years, Theresa for 24, David for 36 and Rohan for 9. These four individuals have nothing in common save for the fact that they believe without a doubt that they married the loves of their lives. With a combined 86 years of marriage among them, you can be sure that they have some of the best pieces of advice to share with you.
I had the chance to reach out to these people and pick their brains on what makes a marriage work. From quirky advice to cliché tips, you will be surprised to learn what these four have been through to make their marriages go the distance. From furniture breaking fights to mind blowing makeup sex right after, there is nothing these four have not done with their spouses.
Do not be fooled into thinking that these relationships are walks in the park. On the contrary, you will be surprised at the myriad things that have happened to get them to where they are today. Kids, grandkids, affairs, illnesses, careers, religion and anything else you can think of have played a role in weakening and then strengthening these four marriages.
11 important pieces of marriage advice every couple needs
So what are you supposed to do when the honeymoon ends and real life sets in? Do you simply give up and walk away or stay and fight to keep it alive? You may have come across some of this advice in the past, but there is no denying that they hold some truth. Here are 11 pearls of wisdom from those who know exactly what they’re talking about.
#1 Don’t let your moods affect your words. Just because you feel one way, your partner doesn’t have to, as well. After a long day at work, it’s not uncommon for people to take it out on their spouses when they get home. You may be angry with your colleague, you boss, the cab driver or at yourself, but at the end of the day, remember not to take it out on your blameless spouse.
It wasn’t your wife’s fault that your boss trashed your presentation. It wasn’t your husband’s fault Lufthansa pilots decided to go on strike that resulted in your flight getting canceled. Leave your crappy feelings out in the cold and do not let it cross the threshold into your home. It will take lots of practice for you to get the hang of it, but it’s certainly one of the main things you need to focus and work on.
#2 Don’t be afraid to be silly. Never be afraid to act silly. Whether it’s having a tickle fest with your husband, giving your wife a naked helicopter dance, or cracking a lame joke to diffuse a tension-filled situation, use humor as a way to keep the relationship healthy and fun. Laughter truly is the best medicine and if you can’t have fun with your partner, why even stay together?
#3 Never play the blame game. Remember to never play the blame game, if you can help it. Sure, there are scenarios whereby the culprit is easily discernible, but arguing over who left the garage door open and who forgot to put the milk back in the fridge are not even worth the effort anyway.
We’re talking about big decisions here like blaming your husband for your loneliness because he uprooted you and moved across the country for his career. We’re talking about blaming your wife for your son’s bad grades, and so on. Remember that you are a team that promised to love and support each other. Take responsibility together and always remember to kill the resentment before it kills your marriage.
#4 See the best in your partner. Always focus on the good in your spouse. Once you only start seeing the bad, you know that you have a big problem, and you have to do something to change it right away. Instead of thinking, “Oh my god, he is such a child and cannot be responsible for things that go on around the house,” focus on, “I value how he keeps me young by encouraging me to not be stressed out by stuff that doesn’t matter.” See the best in each other and you will not question why you got married in the first place.
#5 Treasure date night. Life tends to get in the way of romance but don’t completely forsake the spark that made you fall in love. If you can keep appointments with your hairdresser, your bank manager, your boss and your dog walker, you can definitely make the effort to keep a date with your spouse.
Schedule date night at least twice a week and focus on each other. Whether it’s going around the block to your favorite taco food truck or out to the cinema to watch a film, spend time with your spouse, no matter how busy you are. Take the time to communicate, laugh, touch and appreciate each other. Having kids is no excuse for not spending quality time together. Get a babysitter or pop open a bottle of wine in front of the fire once they have gone to bed.
#6 Save a special place in your heart for your partner. Unfaithfulness is one of the main reasons couples split up. No matter how much you lust for your secretary or your tennis coach, do not even think about breaking the trust that you promised your partner. You need to save a special place in your heart and soul for your spouse, and give them the key so that no one else is allowed in there.
Once you let someone else into that space, you will come to the point of no return. Guilt, anger and embarrassment will come in one fell swoop and replace trust, loyalty and love. Why do that to your special person? No one deserves to be hurt by your selfishness so ensure that you resist temptation. This applies just as much to emotional cheating as it does to let’s-get-naked-cheating.
#7 Learn your partner’s language. Make the effort to make your spouse happy even if it means you will have a so-so time doing so. For example, Joyce’s husband loves surfing whereas she prefers mountain getaways. However, she gives in to him often and plans beach holidays so that he can have a spot of fun in the waves.
Learn your partner’s language and do what you can to let them know you love them. Try to cherish and appreciate the things they enjoy and even if you still cannot get the hang of it years later, it will not matter because your partner will know that you tried and supported them anyway. That is what counts.
#8 Resolve arguments the right way. You will receive conflicting advice when it comes to this point. Some couples will advise you to hash an argument out and never go to bed angry whereas others will tell you to sleep on it and deal with it when you are calm. This all comes down to the type of people both of you are.
If both of you need space, then sleep on it. If you want to sort it all out now, then go right ahead. The problem starts when one of each is in the relationship. Someone is just going to have to put their differences aside and let the other win. As tricky as this is, it’s not that difficult to see through.
If you’re the one who wants to talk it through until you lose your voice, whereas your wife would rather ignore it till tomorrow, let her win. Compromise and sacrifice are two things that will keep your marriage alive so if you have to swallow your pride, then do it. Bring it up with your wife when you finally sit and talk the next day, and tell her that she needs to play a part in compromising next time. Work out a system that you are both fine with and all will be just fine.
#9 Never let money hurt you. Money certainly is the root of all evil, and people with financial problems will attest to this. If you have fallen on hard times and your wife refuses to cut back on her expensive spa sessions then sure, it’s a cause for concern. However if it’s over little things like paying more for organic milk than a generic brand, then please just let it go.
Respond to financial troubles as a team and involve your spouse in all your concerns. Make an appointment with your accountant together for tips on how to deal with your money and how to streamline a realistic budget that the two of you can abide by. Remember that there will never be enough money to go around anyway so what is the point of arguing about it?
#10 Work towards the same goals. The two of you need to be looking in the same direction, if you want things to work out. If you have different goals of where you want to end up, then you will be hard pressed to make your marriage work without too much sacrifice and resentment getting in the way.
You may be on different career paths, but that is no reason to not share the same goals. Buying a second home, sending your kids off to college, saving up for your 20th year anniversary party and so on are common goals that you can work towards together. Support each other’s individual goals, but remember to always look in the same direction when it comes to long term stuff.
#11 Choose to be happy. Contrary to what many people say, happiness is a choice. If you choose to be grateful and appreciative for all that you have, you will find that happiness is much easier to come by. Never compare your spouse to someone else’s because at the end of the day, who knows what goes on behind closed doors. Never compare your spouse to random people you meet because who knows what they are really like.
When you got married, you promised to love your partner for better or for worse and nothing screams love and gratitude more than choosing to be happy with the partner you chose for yourself. Value their presence in your life and make the conscious effort and decision to be happy and you will find that living happily ever after is possible.
There’s no guarantee that your marriage will be free from obstacles along the way. But if you find the time to strengthen your bond and work together as a couple, you’ll find that those roadblocks are nothing compared to the strength of your marriage.