8 Essential Practices for a Happy Marriage

Did you know that happy marriages that LAST the tests of time have common practices that are universal? Yes, it’s true. If you want to guarantee that your marriage will last (or fix a struggling one), follow these 8 essential practices.

I’m not saying they are easy, but they are incredibly effective, and they are backed by the most detailed long-term marriage research to date

I broken down a checklist for you that is both simple to understand and hands-on. Oh yeah, and I also use these in my marriage to keep it strong – and it’s amazingly effective. My husband and I aren’t perfect by any means. If we can do this, so can you!

How to Use This List

Check off what you are doing now. If you are doing all of them, awesome! Your marriage will be strong and stable for years to come as long as you keep at it. If you’re not, pick one you need to work on, and start this week together.

Don’t get discouraged if you falter (or your spouse falters) – it’s not about getting these perfect. It’s the journey together that’s most important…

8 Essential Practices for a Happy Marriage

1. Be Honest – don’t hide the truth from your spouse because you don’t want to be uncomfortable. Honesty requires trust, and when you’re not honest about what you are feeling, thinking, or doing, you are telling your spouse, “I don’t trust you enough with this information.” Agree that you will both be honest with one another from now on, no matter how uncomfortable it might be.

2. Be Transparent – this is a big part of honesty and a little more. Transparency breeds trust so it’s an important element to incorporate in your marriage. If you are going anywhere, doing anything, calling anyone, or anything else you can think of, your spouse should have access to that information. This doesn’t mean you need to check in with one another on everything (how you organize that is up to both of you), but the information should always be available. For example, if you use a code to access your personal cell phone, your spouse should have that code too. It’s not that your spouse needs to use it but that your spouse CAN. If you have nothing to hide from one another, there is nothing to suspect. Trust builds.

3. Take Personal Responsibility – if you messed up, admit it, own it, and then you can both move on from it learning something new and being stronger in your partnership. Both partners should take responsibility for their mistakes. Example? – “I’m sorry I yelled at you yesterday about not washing the dishes. I shouldn’t have done that. It was disrespectful.” No excuses. No blame. No rationalizations. Just own it, and your spouse will respect and love you even more because of it. It’s not the mistake, it’s how you recover from it that counts.

4. Be Grateful – Be thankful for things big and small. Start with the small – thank your partner for making dinner for the family or for taking the kids out to the park while you caught up on some work. Little “thanks” day to day pay off big time. In addition, thank your lucky stars for your partner, and let your partner know that you appreciate him or her every day. Your spouse should know that you are thankful to be in this relationship. You chose your spouse for a reason, and those reasons are still around (though they may be muddled if you’ve grown apart – so work on some other parts of the list to bring those reasons back). Be grateful for the things your spouse does for you, for your family, and for your children. My husband always tells me, “I don’t know what we’d do without you.” I never get tired of hearing that. And you know what? I don’t know what I’d do without him. I am so thankful he’s my husband…that comes from his gratitude and his appreciation of me. See how that works?

5. Don’t Envy Other Relationships – the grass is NEVER greener on the other side when it comes down to it. All relationships take work and all relationships have challenges. When you think some other couple has it better, you are comparing another couples “best of” clips to your cutting room floor. You don’t know others’ private struggles so don’t assume they don’t have issues of their own – we all do. This kind of “grass is greener” thinking will only make you resent what you have and limit your energy to work on your marriage since you will be daydreaming about something better. This goes for other potential partners. Don’t assume it’ll be easier with someone else. It’s not about finding the perfect partner. It’s about making your partner perfect for you. Affairs start up from this “grass is greener” thinking. Avoid it at all costs.

6. Have a Team Mindset – when you married your spouse, you agreed to share your life. That means everything. Throw out the single mind set – you no longer have “your money” or “your personal business” or even “your sex life” (yep, that one’s a doozy – Read More Here). Everything now is “OURS” – It’s “our money” – “our business” – “our sex life” – this means you need to make decisions about everything in your lives jointly. Yes, this even means things like your job. Ask your partner for advice if you are having a problem at work. Always include one another in all aspects of your life. Your partner is your primary supporter and visa versa. Come to each other first for everything. Makes sense when you think about it this way…if your partner isn’t your primary support, who is taking his or her place? Hmmm…

7. Be Kind – in all things, be as kind as you can. Your partner has real feelings and sensitivities, good days and bad days, and is prone to a meltdown once in a while…just like you. Take it easy on one another. When you have a problem to resolve, present it in the most respectful (but honest) way possible. Don’t assume your partner will love you unconditionally no matter what you do. Big mistake. Your love is conditional in marriage, and it should be – you can’t abuse one another day after day and expect the love to hold. It won’t.

8. Ask for What You Want – don’t ever expect your spouse to read your mind. If you need something or want something in your partnership, you need to be vocal about it. So many marriages fall apart because a partner feels neglected, cheated, or resentful due to needs bot being met. Have you vocalized them? If not, you can’t blame your partner for not meeting your needs. As much as you feel your partner should know what you want, it’s not realistic or fair. Be up front, and never expect mind reading. You’ll be disappointed every time.

So here they are – the 8 practices you should nail down to have a thriving marriage. Again, remember you won’t be perfect day to day, and you’ll both mess up. Don’t focus on perfection. The goal is to do your best every day and most of all PUT YOUR MARRIAGE FIRST….above anything.

I’d love to know what you think so please comment at the bottom of the page and share your opinions and thoughts!

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