Good for you for looking for things to do to keep your marriage happy.
Marriage is long and hard and being proactive is the best way to keep it healthy. So many of us put off working on our marriage, hoping that someday we will have the opportunity to do so, only to find that it’s too late.
Of course, alongside with the importance of doing things to keep your marriage healthy are things that you definitely should NOT do. Ironically, they are often two sides of the same coin and understanding that can make them easier to manage.
Here are 5 things to do to keep your marriage happy and 5 things not to do. Read on!
#1 – Do: Communicate
If you have read any of my blogs, or those of other relationship coaches, you will know by now the NUMBER ONE most important thing to do to keep your marriage happy is communication.
What kind of communication? Communication about feelings, about household chores, about expectations, about in-laws, about work schedules, about the kids, about the dogs, about your friends, about money, about anything and everything to do with your marriage.
Without communication, relationships can, and will, stall out. Without communication, people hurt each other unintentionally. Without communication, couples lose their connection.
Why don’t couples communicate? Most commonly it is because they don’t want to cause their partner pain but also because they don’t make the time or they don’t want to deal with the fallout or they just don’t think to do it. Those are pretty lame excuses to not do the key thing that could keep a marriage happy.
So, don’t just TRY to communicate – do it! I promise you that if you do, it will be worth it.
Don’t: Be Passive Aggressive
The flip side of communication is passive aggression. The definition of someone who is passive aggressive is someone who ‘uses indirect resistance as a reaction to the demands of others and an avoidance of direct confrontation, as in procrastinating, pouting, or misplacing important materials.’
Are you someone who says they will do something, knowing you won’t? Are you someone who reacts to a comment from your partner with a sneer and a roll of the eyes? Are you someone who puts off things, even if you know that they are important to your partner?
All of these things are hallmarks of someone who is passive aggressive. More than almost anything, passive aggression can sabotage a happy relationship.
If there is one thing to do to keep your marriage healthy it is to never be passive aggressive – communicate with your person. If you can communicate about your wants and needs, you will find yourself happier than you ever thought you could be.
#2 – Do: Work together
My daughter always said that her friend’s parents who were still together when she went off to college were parents who worked well together.
Instead of one person being in charge, both adults made the decisions around social life, kid’s activities, time around the holidays, date nights etc. All of these things allowed the couple to stay connected in a way that if one person had been in charge would not be possible.
Furthermore, the ability to work well together will make passive aggressiveness less likely, which will only make your relationship healthier.
Don’t: Divide and Conquer
When my husband and I were married, we decided to divide and conquer. He was the one who went to work and made the money. I was the one who stayed home and was in charge of the family and the house. I wish we had never done that.
His focus was work – which made me angry and resentful. My focus was on our children and their lives – which made him angry and resentful.
I always thought that once the kids were gone we would have an opportunity to work our way back to each other, to work together to be happy, but we never got the chance!
#3 – Do: Be Willing to Forgive
The importance of being able to forgive cannot be understated. The ability to forgive may be equal to the definition of love.
We are all of us humans. Human beings who laugh, cry, make mistakes, do big things, who are impulsive and damaged. As a result, people, humans, make mistakes.
If you hold onto a mistake that someone has made, it will only eat you up inside. If you hold onto a mistake that someone made thinking that they did it because they didn’t love you, it will only destroy your relationship.
Are you willing to forgive someone for making a human mistake? Would you want someone to forgive you if you did?
Don’t: Hold grudges
My mother could hold a grudge like no one’s business. If my dad did one thing wrong, it was unforgivable.
I remember that he used to come home late every night and that he did he didn’t pay attention to her. She was hurt and got passive aggressive which made him pay even less attention to her.
My mother never got over that. As a result, their marriage ended in shambles and she held onto her anger at my father for the rest of her life. I believe that, ultimately, those grudges killed her.
Are you someone who holds on to grudges? Are those grudges getting you anywhere? Are they injuring your relationship? If so, try to let them go.
#4 – Do: Keep the romance going
I am in an incredibly healthy relationship and the reason is, I believe, that we are determined to never stop making sure the other feels loved.
We make an effort to tell each other how we feel about each other, to give each other physical attention, to give each other space, to give each other understanding, to forgive each other when we need to. We work on this every single day. It’s not always easy but it is totally worth it
We’ve been together for four years and to this day we are like a young couple in love.
Don’t: Take each other for granted.
The death of many relationships is caused when someone takes the other one for granted.
When they assume that their person will always be there for them. When they assume that no matter what they say, or do, they will be forgiven. When they believe that some day they will be able to fix everything that is broken. When they aren’t willing to get divorced but aren’t willing to work on the marriage either.
My boyfriend and I rarely take each other for granted. If either one feels like we are to being taken for granted, we speak up, immediately, so the other person knows how we are feeling
#5 – Do: Talk about your sex life.
As marriages go on, sex lives can often be diminished. Whether it’s because of work, kids, loss of interest, or anxiety, married people’s sex lives can be a mess.
Unfortunately, when this happens, couples are hesitant to talk about it. Like money, the topic of sex is very fraught. We believe that discussing it will only lead to embarrassment, shame and pain.
As a result, the topic of sex is swept under the table and because of this, couple’s sex lives diminish or disappear,
And a marriage will struggle to be a happy one with no sex.
Don’t: Go looking elsewhere for love and affection
Many people who are in unhealthy relationships, who are taken for granted, who don’t communicate, who can not forgive each other or work together, whose sex life is difficult, can, and do, find themselves vulnerable to finding love and affection elsewhere.
More often than not, people don’t go looking for affection but when it is put in front of them they find they can’t resist.
Seeking love and affection elsewhere is a sure fire way to make sure that your relationship isn’t not a happy one and might even end it.
Knowing things to do to keep your marriage happy is the key to doing so.
That being said, understanding what is important NOT to do is just as important.
Know that if you can communicate, if you can work together and forgive each other, if you can keep the romance going and if you can talk about sex, you will find that you can have a marriage that will withstand the test of time and remain happy.
I know that this list is daunting. If so, choose one of the items above to start and then do it! Even one thing can make a big difference!
I know that you can do this!