My husband and I recently celebrated our twelfth anniversary. It seems like just the other day AND a long time ago that we tied the knot! I’m excited for this Valentine’s day, not because I’m looking forward to getting fancy gifts, but because I love being married and I know I’ll get to spend a little extra time with my hubby.
In 2012, the Ensign shared some tips of what happily married couples do. I know what they are talking about, because I’ve learned to do these things. I’d like to share their ideas in my own words. Because real-life true love can best be found in a vibrant happy marriage. So, here are 10 tips for a happy marriage.
Positive conversations. a happy marriage is full of happy conversations. “What are you doing today? What do you want to do? What tasks are on your to do list? How can I help you with the things you are working on?” These are the kinds of conversations we have all the time. One thing that has helped our conversations is planning out our week together every Sunday night. We look at the calendar together and write what’s happening on a wipe off one-week calendar in the kitchen. We’ll add to do lists that we need to get done. It really helps to mutually plan out our goals for the week. When we sit down for meals, we can see the calendar and talk about what is coming up that day.
Know details. A couple knows and cares about all of the details of each other’s lives. I know everything about my husband, from the names of his pets to the name of his best friend in high school.
“In marriage the big things are the little things.”
Show affection. Physical affection reinforces other forms of love in a marriage. For some, including many men, physical affection says “I love you” stronger than words. A healthy marriage includes holding hands, sitting next to each other, hugs, and kisses. I’m not as naturally affectionate as my husband, but I love it when we walk around the back yard together holding hands or sit on the couch together.
Be each others best friends. You know your spouse better than anyone else. You are able to understand them best. Know their desires and talents, challenges, weaknesses and strengths. I like to think about how my husband has to put up with me. Before I get annoyed that he didn’t do dishes when I asked for help, I remember all the times I haven’t done dishes or been available to help him. Often the things I get annoyed at are things I do. If I remember that, I don’t get annoyed as easily. He’s already putting up with me and not saying anything about it.
Have a gospel perspective. Be humble and charitable. We know we’ll never be perfect in this lifetime, so we have to accept that in ourselves and family members. When I have a weakness or problem, I don’t want someone to constantly remind me of it and pester me about changing. I hope for love and acceptance and help to change as I am able. As a woman, I tend to be the one to fall into the “nagging” trap. Really the time to be picky about a spouse’s traits are before you marry them. Once you make the commitment, you need to accept them for who they are and love them no matter what.
Keep dating. When you do things enjoyable together, you enjoy being together. Of course it’s important to continue nurturing our most valuable relationship. If my husband and I have lots of work to do, perhaps we will spend time together working on a project together, but it is still time spent together. Sometimes I have a hard time spending money on “fun”, which makes me a stick in the mud for dates. Yet it is a lot cheaper to keep my marriage healthy than to have to pay for counselling. Some things we do for dates include grocery shopping, eating at a restaurant, exercising together, hiking, working in the yard, and looking at the night sky.
Share intimacy. A healthy relationship includes intimacy. We believe this is a sacred and God-given means of enriching a marriage. Like all other aspects of marriage, there is balance to meet the needs of each spouse. Intimacy is a natural outcome of a happy marriage relationship.
Spend time with children. As a couple matures, children join the family and add to the demands on both spouses. Caring for children is a major joint goal, with contributions from each parent. When I have a new baby, I am often tired and less interested in intimacy, yet so grateful when my husband is willing to nurture me and our new child. He may give me a break by holding the baby, or have a conversation with me to give me attention. I love watching him bond with our newborn. When I see how wonderful and loving he is with our children, I love and respect him more and want to do things to show love in return. It motivates me to want to cook nicer meals, go on dates, and show him affection. So once I adjust to the routine with the new baby, I am often even better at doing my own work and making time for him.
Ask for feedback. When you are in a position to make improvements, your spouse is the person who knows you best and can help you accomplish your goals. I like to talk about what things I do and don’t like about how a situation went and hear his opinion. Likewise, a good spouse is sensitive when the other is having a hard time. Usually I am the one having a hard time and venting my frustration and my husband is patient and tries to help me out until I feel better. Thanks, honey.
Trust. A marriage relationship is the closest relationship possible between people. Your spouse knows everything about you. In order to feel safe and happy in your relationship you must be able to trust each other. You must trust that even when your spouse sees you at your worst, they won’t hold it against you. They will keep on loving you and helping you be your best self. Anger and contention are Satan’s favorite tools for dividing us. When allowed into a marriage, they can destroy the trust so essential to the relationship. Even small things like sarcasm and criticism can damage a relationship.
I love being married. As time goes by, it seems like our ability to accomplish things together grows. I hope to continue to nurture my marriage and enjoy the fulfillment that comes with a happy marriage.