When I wrote my “Love Essentially” column for this week, I felt kind of funny offering marital advice. I was thinking, ‘Who would want marital advice from a divorced person?’ Isn’t that kind of like taking medical advice from a high school drop out? Not at all! I found while writing the article that I was really offering relationship advice, and that this applies to anyone in a relationship. It also applies to second marriages.
So, here are 10 Tips to a Happier Marriage:
Anyone who is or has ever tied the knot will attest to how difficult marriage can be at times. The stress of a job, finances, children, a home and health issues, can carry over into spousal relationships, leaving little time to focus on the importance of you and your spouse as a couple.
That said, is there a better feeling than having the kind of intense love, admiration and gratitude that can only be felt for the person with whom you chose to spend your life?
Here are 10 marriage tips that might help you through the rough patches of marriage and make the happy times even happier!
1. Talk to each other. When something is bothering you, the worst thing you can do is hold it inside and let it fester. Doing that only causes resentment and ultimately hostility. If you just tell your spouse what’s on your mind as nice and polite as possible, you will feel so much better that chances are, you won’t even be bothered anymore. Your spouse will then do one of two things: apologize or disagree. Either way, you win because it’s not bottled up any longer.
2. Listen to each other. Is listening the opposite of talking? No. In my opinion, listening is the opposite of arguing. People talk too much and don’t listen. If you take the time to listen to your spouse, I can almost guarantee you will argue less. Make sure your spouse knows you are listening. Marriage therapy 101 talks about saying: “I am listening to you. I hear what you are saying.”
3. Date and have fun together. No couple should ever stop dating. Getting a babysitter and going out for a romantic dinner, a movie, a play, a concert or even playing golf together keeps a couple emotionally connected. Ask each other out on dates, plan them, and enjoy each other as you did when you were younger, single people dating each other!
4. Nurture your relationship. “I wish my wife would treat me as nice as she treats the Starbucks barista,” a friend of mine once said to me. That was very sad to hear. Marriages are like plants. You have to water them to keep them alive. People who don’t believe marriage is work are foolish. Marriage is work, but you should want to do the work!
5. Learn to forgive. If your spouse does something hurtful or wrong and then apologizes, you have two choices: either forgive and then let it go, or don’t. But if you don’t, ask yourself why you are holding on to your anger or resentment. Also, remember this. No one is perfect. Everyone messes up.
6. Fight fair. If you are having an argument, remember these things. Keep your voice down, listen to the other person’s point of view, which doesn’t mean you have to agree, say “I’m sorry” if it is warranted, refrain from name calling or foul language, breathe deep before saying anything you might regret, and if you must, simply agree to disagree.
7. Treat each other with respect and kindness. Remember the Starbucks barista?
8. Kind gestures go a long, long way. When was the last time you came home with a dozen roses for your wife for no reason? Have you ever just gone out and bought your husband a nice card or gift, just to say I love you? How about a nice, long back scratch or an offer to do the dishes after dinner one night? Kind, thoughtful gestures lead to appreciation, smiles, hugs and yes, romance and sex.
9. Have alone time and time with friends. The men and women I know who have the best marriages spend time alone or time with friends without their spouse. A man will appreciate his wife encouraging him to play golf with his friends. A woman will love her husband for putting the kids to bed one night while she enjoys going out for dinner with some girlfriends. Being apart is a good thing, as it gives us space, the chance to miss and appreciate our spouse, and to feel balance.
10. Admit fault and say I’m sorry. Remember I said everyone messes up? If you mess up, have the guts to admit it. People have respect for those with the courage and the maturity to fess up to their mistakes. Regarding “I’m sorry, those words can be quite powerful, and so often more meaningful than “I love you.”
On a side note, I want to point out that I am not married, but actually divorced. Some people might think taking marital advice from a divorced person is like taking medical advice from a high school dropout. I disagree! My expertise on marriage comes not only from what I learned while I was happily married for many years, but from the gift of hindsight, of course.