How To Build A Happy Marriage
Updated November 27, 2019
Reviewer Karen Devlin, LPC
When you date and plan to marry, relationships are often filled with lots of excitement as both partners put forth lots of effort to appeal to the other person. Sometimes, after the marriage, the excitement can diminish as the honeymoon period naturally comes to an end. This can be worsened by both partners becoming more complacent in the relationship. Life also changes as it can become more routine. Other times, life brings challenges and those can also cause problems in the relationship.
The reality is, marriages take work. It is helpful to start from the beginning with plans that will keep your marriage happy. However, it is never too late to make changes that will make your marriage happier. Try these tips to help build and maintain a happy marriage:
Build a Happy Marriage with Open Honesty
The foundation of most relationships is based on communication. Every marriage needs open and honest conversation to build a happy relationship and maintain it over time. This may seem difficult at times when there are problems or challenges you do not necessarily want to discuss. However, it is important to be direct, open, and honest, even during those difficult times.
Being open and honest applies to many different areas that intersect with a relationship. This could be about the state of your job, the state of your finances, or even the state of your marriage. If you are having fears and concerns about your marriage, it is important to take those directly to your partner and talk them over openly. This can resolve them or at least let you work on resolving them, more quickly.
Say Things Nicely
Although your goal should be to talk openly and honestly, you do not necessarily have to say every single thought you have or say it exactly the way that it entered your mind. Sometimes you may have information to share, and you will want to think about how to put it nicely. For example, you could be frustrated with your partner about something, and you can give that feedback in nice terms, rather than in the blunt and direct ways those thoughts might typically go through your mind.
Show Your Appreciation
As a dating couple, you may have frequently expressed your appreciation for your partner. You may have done this in many ways such as a hug and kiss upon seeing them after a long day, or by planning special surprises for them. After years of marriage, couples can become more accustomed to seeing their partner every day and may think less often about showing that special appreciation.
The problem with not showing appreciation is that it can make both partners feel less emotionally satisfied in the relationship. When people do not feel appreciated, they may feel less connected to their partner. They may even start to feel very hurt and sometimes, they will look elsewhere for the appreciation they may so desperately want. So, both partners need to remember to show appreciation in little and big ways. It will help maintain the emotional connection and make both partners feel good.
Express Your Gratitude
Just as couples may become more complacent about showing their appreciation to one another, they may also forget to show their gratitude to one another. Again, the routine may dictate that each partner does certain things in the relationship and the other partner may just become accustomed to those things being done, without actually saying anything ingratitude of it being done.
This can make each partner feel as though they are being taken for granted. Each partner may even start to keep score of what they have done that seemingly went unnoticed. Over time, resentments can build up, and each partner may have unspoken upset towards the other. If left unaddressed, this can all cause the relationship to deteriorate, potentially leading to fighting and bigger problems.
To avoid these problems, it is important for each partner to continue to show gratitude towards one another for the small and big things they do. There may be roles that each partner naturally takes on, but it is important for the other person to notice and say, 'thank you.' This avoids that trap of taking things for granted and one or both partners feeling as though they are not valued in the relationship.
Be Kind to One Another
Just as you should show appreciation and gratitude for the small and big things your partner does, you should also continue to be kind to one another. This also involves smaller and bigger actions you can take to show your partner that you care for them. Sometimes, it is even just as small as complimenting them. Being kind also involves not taking out your frustrations on your partner, especially when those frustrations are more related to work or things outside the marriage.
Be Positive, Stay Happy, Let Small Things Go
Another way to avoid building resentments in a marriage and to maintain the feeling of happiness is just to let the small things go. In most relationships, there can be big problems (such as, for example, infidelity or one partner leading the couple into financial problems) and of course, those should be addressed directly and as quickly as possible, to resolve them and help to maintain the relationship.
However, many smaller problems should be let go of. These include annoyances over more minor things, such forgetting to put their shoes away. If you hold onto those annoyances, they will only build over time. They will lead to resentment and unhappiness. Letting go requires not taking it personally, giving feedback for them to do it differently next time, and then just moving ahead with your day.
Building a Happy Marriage Means Taking Care of Yourself
In relationships, sometimes one or both partners let themselves go, and this can negatively affect the whole relationship. Taking care of yourself can apply to your appearance, and it is helpful to continue to present yourself attractively (at least sometimes) to your partner. However, taking care of yourself also applies to attending to your emotional and psychological health.
Every person has certain physical, emotional, and psychological needs that must be met for them to be personally happy. In a relationship, it can be tempting to sacrifice one's self for the other person or the relationship. However, each partner does need to take care of themselves and keep themselves well so that they can work alongside their partner to make the marriage as happy as it can be.
Engage in your self-care by doing things that you enjoy with your partner and even apart from your partner. If you sometimes need alone time, talk to your partner and make sure you set that time aside. If you need a spa day or a yoga class, do those things as much as your finances will allow. Engage also in other wellness steps such as Mindfulness Meditation that can help you to be at your best.
Foster Other Friendships
Although your marriage will be the primary relationship in your life, it cannot be the only relationship. Everyone also needs friends and other social supports. Couples also benefit from spending time with other couples. Each can support the others' relationship by providing a sounding board sometimes and by being a source of advice at other times. So, make sure to foster your other friendships.
Along with fostering friendships, it is important not to become so overly involved in one's marriage that other familial relationships are forgotten or neglected. Just as time with friends can support a marriage, connections to family and familial relationships can also support the marriage. Essentially, foster your other relationships as a way to promote a life-long and happy marriage.
Allow Some Silence
Some couples may think that things are not going well and may start to feel unhappy because things do feel comfortable. It is okay for the relationship to be comfortable and for there to be times of silence. It may just mean you are the ease with one another. Allowing some silence also means taking a break to think sometimes. For example, if you are arguing, you may each need to step away, allow some silence, and calm down, before you continue talking. This can also save you from saying hurtful things.
Seek Couples Counseling for a Happy Marriage
Many couples also benefit from Couples Counseling to help promote a happy marriage. This may be especially helpful if you lack strong family relationships or if you live some distance away from other close friends. You can participate in Couples Counseling before you marry, in Premarital Counseling, to promote a successful and happy marriage. Many couples also use Couples Counseling to improve their marriage, and it does not have to be something you turn to only during difficult circumstances.
If you are interested in using Couples Counseling to start your marriage off right or to improve your marriage, you can usually find a therapist online. In fact, some people choose to pursue Couples Counseling through online platforms, called Teletherapy. This format can allow you to easily participate in Couples Counseling with a skilled Therapist from anywhere, at anytime that is convenient for you.