6 Tips to Fostering a Happier Marriage
Sergio and I are fortunate to say we are happily married and genuinely mean it! We’ve had many couples say they admire us and view our marriage as an example for what they strive for. In the last 7 years, my husband and I have learned a lot about cultivating a happy and healthy marriage, but this isn’t something we’ve accomplished on our own. Over the years, we’ve sat down with elders who’d been married for decades to talk about what’s kept them together and with our families to discuss what tore them apart. We learned along the way that no marriage is perfect because you’re uniting two imperfect individuals. However, you can strive to develop healthy habits in your marriage that will foster a happy marriage! I am no marriage expert nor do I claim to be one. My prayer is that in sharing the things that have worked for us over the years, you can implement them for yourself!
First things first. If you don’t love yourself it will be impossible for you to wholeheartedly love someone else - including your spouse. Loving yourself means that you embrace all aspects of who you are and who you are striving to be. Sometimes we think the concept of loving ourselves seems too conceited, but it’s quite the opposite. It’s about kindness, acceptance without conditions, and patience. It means you don’t punish yourself due to your past; instead, you use your past mistakes and challenges to grow. You know you aren’t perfect, yet you affirm who you are right now and applaud the progress you are making every step of the way. And you look forward to the person you are developing into! It means you understand your worth, value, and what you bring to the table. So you don’t compromise with anything that will dishonor the essence of You. If you can achieve this for yourself, then you can certainly love someone else the same way!
Develop honest Communication
Communication is one of the top 2 deal breakers in marriage (finance is the other one). My husband always tells me, “Babe, I’m not a mind reader. You have to talk to me!” Sometimes, we think that because we’ve been with someone for so long they should know us by now and know what makes us tick. But, honestly, even after 7 years, there are new things I’m discovering about my husband all the time! So it’s not fair to expect someone else to know you better than you! That said, it’s important to be open with your partner about your feelings. Many arguments, sleepless nights, and door slams could be avoided if we communicated in healthy, honest ways about our feelings and expectations. Yes, you may feel uncomfortable about expressing the things on your mind at times, but if you can’t be vulnerable with the person you said “I do” to, then that’s a big red flag! After all, your partner is your covering, implying that you trust him or her to always have your best interest at heart.
It’s true - a couple that prays together, stays together! There is something about prayer that brings two hearts together in such a beautiful and honest way. When my husband and I pray together, we take turns speaking what is on our hearts. I am amazed at the things my husband will say about me in prayer, or the way he expresses himself when he’s asking God to grant a desire of my heart. There is something genuine and vulnerable about accessing your partner’s heart through the way they speak to God. Because I see my husband in prayer daily, I know that he is accountable to a higher power. It means he views me as a gift from God he shouldn’t take for granted. Our best seasons have always been the ones where we have prayed together the most. And when we feel distant or disconnected from each other, we know we’ve been missing out on praying together.
There’s nothing like making the sparks fly! Whether it’s dressing up for a romantic date or dressing down for quality time in the bedroom, intimacy is key to keeping a marriage passionate and alive. My husband and I make it a point to have at least one date a week that we can look forward to. Because we are now a family of 4, our dates require us to be outside of the home so we can truly get away from all the chaos! Sometimes my husband will recommend a new restaurant for us to try, or we’ll just take a stroll around a park together and grab a sweet treat. If we can’t get out of the house on a specific week, we’ll wait for the little ones to be in bed and watch a movie together with our favorite snacks and then spend the rest of the night telling stories and talking about our future together. These moments also ensure that we spend time under the sheets ;) The point is to set aside time in which you can both focus on each other mentally, physically, and emotionally. This is your time to get to know each other on a deeper level, fall in love all over again, remind each other why you are still committed, and enjoy each other’s company.
Commit and stay committed
Commitment is all about following through with your word even when you don’t feel like doing so. Trust me, I have many days when I want to take a frying pan and slap some sense into my husband - who doesn’t?! But just because we have some bad days, doesn’t mean I storm out, disrespect him, or belittle him. I’ve learned to understand that loving him doesn’t mean I have to like him all the time. Love is my responsibility; it’s what I committed to the day I said “I do,” which means that everyday I choose to honor him regardless of how I may feel. No matter where we are, who we are with, or how we feel, we understand that our commitment to honoring each other means that we hold each other in high esteem! Does that mean everything is always a bed of roses? Of course not! There are many days we have disagreements that lead to moments of frustration. But just because I don’t like him for the moment because I’m upset doesn’t mean I don’t love him. Whatever you said “I do” to, do your very best to stay committed to your word!
Develop a Partnership
Whenever I want to stay angry with my husband for a long period of time, he reminds me, “Fran, we’re a team and I’m not your enemy.” It doesn’t take long for me to snap out of it and talk through solutions with him. I was an expert on the silent treatment our first year of marriage and I quickly learned that was getting me nowhere. It only led to more frustrating days and lonely nights. In the last couple of years, I’ve become an expert at overly communicating and making sure I don’t ever go to bed angry at my husband. When you understand that you and your partner are a team, you work through issues together and your conversations become solution oriented. You aren’t looking to badger the other person or to prove that you are “right.” So in any situation - whether it’s raising your kids, planning the next family vacation, buying a new home, or making a financial decision - always remember that you should be working together. After all, team work is what makes the dream work!
So in all, remember to love yourself so that you can love your partner the way they should be loved. Be honest and open with your communication and stay committed to your word. Find time to pray together for each other and approach every situation as team players!