A healthy marriage is one of the greatest things you can have in life. There are so many great things that come with marriage. Things like unconditional support, respect, safety, and of course, love. And a lifelong best friend, if you’re lucky.
I see so many women talk poorly about marriage though. How it holds you back professionally, how it holds you back from fun and freedom, how it ruins your individuality. It bothers me to see this because I couldn’t disagree more.
A healthy marriage is the opposite of those things. My husband and I support each other in our professional lives. We have tons of fun together. And we encourage personal growth in each other.
I will admit that my parents have been very happily married for 40 years so I had a great example of how marriage should be growing up. And it seems to me like only unhealthy marriages would hold you back from being a successful, fun, free individual.
What makes a healthy marriage healthy, though? Well, I’m not a marriage counselor and I assume that the answer to that question would be different for every couple, since everyone’s unique. But I do have some lessons I’ve learned from my parents, and I try to keep these lessons in mind in my own marriage.
But if you want to know my opinion, here are 9 IMPORTANT things that (I think) make marriages happy!
1- Keep expectations realistic.
So often, I feel like our unrealistic expectations of things get in the way of our happiness – and our marriages are no exception. We can’t look to our spouse to be perfect and to provide us with everything we need in our lives. They can’t be the whole source of our happiness; no human can. Humans are imperfect and we need to stop expecting the impossible. Sure, our spouses can make us happy. But they can’t do and be everything to us.
2- Talk to each other about everything.
I know that I, for one, need to express myself and my emotions. If I hold things inside, things end badly. So, it’s important – especially in marriage – to always talk to each other about everything. If something is bothering you, let them know. If something happened, let them know. If you had a bad day, let them know. Things can’t be fixed if they’re not out in the open. Communicate, be honest, and talk to each other about everything.
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3- Be flexible about things.
When you’re going through life with a permanent partner, you’re going to have disagreements along the way. You won’t necessarily always want the same things and you’re going to have differing opinions. So it’s important to be flexible and put each other first sometimes. Things can’t always go your way and things can’t always go your partner’s way because that’s not fair. If you both learn to give a little and compromise on your wants, you’ll be much happier.
4- Take care of yourself.
Self-care is important in every area of our lives, including our marriage. When you’re burnt out and stressed out, it’s hard to bring your best self to the table. Make sure that you’re taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and you’ll be able to love better. It’s not selfish to make yourself a priority. In fact, I’m sure that your spouse wouldn’t want you neglecting yourself.
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5- Be dependable + trustworthy.
I don’t think this needs much of an explanation, but it’s important to be dependable and trustworthy in a marriage. Spouses should support each other and be able to trust each other with anything. You should trust that you have each other’s best interests in mind, trust that you wouldn’t lie to each other, and trust that you wouldn’t do anything to harm or hurt each other. In my opinion, loyalty and trust are the most important parts of a marriage.
6- Always try to fight fair.
Learning how to handle conflict in a healthy way is super important in marriage. I can’t give you advice on how to handle conflict specifically because everyone is different and every situation is different, but I can tell you that it’s important to fight fair. Don’t call each other names, don’t disrespect each other, and try to be open and honest. Listen to each other and always try to work with each other to resolve any conflicts.
7- Show compassion.
This one shouldn’t be a surprise. And it shouldn’t be hard because you love your spouse, right? Spouses should always show compassion and empathy for one another. Be loving toward each other and speak kind words. Sometimes, when all you want to do is criticize and complain, don’t. Say something nice instead. This is the person that you love, so show them affection. When they make a mistake, be understanding and forgive them. Do little acts of kindness for them. Cherish them and be grateful for them.
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8- Encourage each other to grow.
In a healthy marriage, both partners want to see their partner do well. I mean, you want to see your spouse grow, right? I think it’s important for spouses to cheer each other on, work on goals together, support each other, and call each other out on their bullsh*t when they need it. That’s why I love setting goals with my husband and talking about our personal goals with each other. My husband always jokes that I’m his personal cheerleader and I love that. I mean, I want to see him do well! So encourage self-improvement in each other and be there to support each other as you work on your growth and your goals.
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9- Have fun together.
A lot of people actually criticize me for this, but my husband is my best friend. We enjoy hanging out together and doing things together. We have fun, share lots of laughs and have inside jokes. We generally enjoy each other’s company. If – in some weird alternate universe – we weren’t married, I believe we could still be best friends. If you want to have a happy marriage, I recommend being friends with your spouse too. Have fun together and make each other laugh. It makes everything so much better.
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What’s your #1 tip for a happy marriage?