This week my husband and I celebrated twenty years of marriage. TWENTY YEARS! I feel as if I should be receiving an Olympic gold medal. Maybe two. I’ll settle for platinum, if available. 😉
I’m not a mushy, gushy kinda girl so I don’t want my husband to send me roses or buy me jewelry. That money could be applied elsewhere. And if he had presented me with the traditional 20th Anniversary gift of china, my first response would have been, “Do you still have the receipt?”
I know. I’m weird. Or maybe I’m simply practical. I don’t know. My husband thinks I’m awesome, though! (Hahaha!)
To celebrate my 20th, I thought I’d share a few of my secrets to happiness in marriage – twenty secrets to be exact. Now that I think about it, these may be more like things I wish I knew on Day 1 rather than secrets to success but valuable knowledge nonetheless.
So, here we go – my twenty “secrets” to happiness in marriage (in no specific order). I’ll try to keep them short.
20. Don’t buy into the whole “Wedded Bliss” idea.
Okay. I know this sounds horrible but hear me out. Nothing in life is perfect – especially a marriage. Although you’ll have times when you’re living on Cloud 9, you’re also going to have times when you feel your marriage is falling apart. It can get rough. So, if you’re expecting the Fairy Tale, you’re in for a shock. Remembering that you are two imperfect people striving to create a life together will do wonders for your wedded bliss!
19. Don’t keep score.
Again, neither of you are perfect. You’ll both make mistakes. But marriage isn’t a game so don’t keep a record of each other’s wrongs. Forgive and forget!
18. Understand that marriage isn’t 50/50.
It’s 100/100. Marriage takes two people giving 100% of themselves to make it work. Sure, there will be times when you or your spouse cannot give 100%. We all have those times when we have to depend on the strength of others. So when your spouse doesn’t have 100% to give, take up the slack. Then on days when you are lacking, let your spouse take up the slack. Just remember – don’t keep score!
17. Learn to say “I’m sorry”.
A LOT! Most of us hate to admit when we are wrong but those two little words go a long way – if you are sincere.
16. Always buy the bigger comforter!
Maybe you’ve been there. It’s the middle of the night. You wake up to find that your spouse has rolled over in bed and taken the blanket with him. All you’re left with is a tiny sliver of fabric to shield yourself from the arctic blast coming from the A/C vent. For newlyweds and cuddly-natured folk, this may not be a problem. For those of us who need a little leg room to get a good night’s sleep, having a larger sized comforter makes all the difference in the world. Separate blankets work great, too!
15. Respect your spouse.
Don’t undermine your spouse. Don’t contradict your spouse in front of your children. Don’t talk down to your spouse. Don’t argue in front of others. Don’t compare your spouse to the spouse of another. Treat your spouse exactly how you would like to be treated. This should be a no brainer but because of such closeness and familiarity, respect often gets thrown out the window. Don’t let it.
14. Never expect what you haven’t spoken.
This is a tough one, especially for wives, I think. We believe our husbands should know what we want or know what should be done without us having to tell them. It’s an unrealistic expectation and the cause of many arguments that could easily be avoided if we only learned to verbalize what we want or expect – even if we think our spouse should already know. Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!
13. Choose your battles wisely.
Not everything is worth an argument. Unfortunately, this is a lesson I’ve learned the hard way. <SIGH>
12. Remember that your attitude sets the tone.
It’s easy to let the mood of your spouse affect your own. It’s actually natural but it can also be a disaster waiting to happen. If your spouse is in a fowl mood, don’t let it pull you down, as well. In fact, your positive mood could just as easily sway the attitude of your spouse. So, set the tone.
11. Give each other space.
If you can’t keep from being affected by your spouse’s negative mood, you may simply need to give your spouse (and yourself) some space. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean that you have to spend every waking moment together. You really do need time apart.
10. Little things make a big difference.
I say this so often but only because it’s true! Buy your spouse his/her favorite sweets. Write a hidden “I love you” on the bathroom mirror which is only revealed by the steam of the shower. Little gestures go a long way.
9. Serve each other.
Give of yourself. Have a tall glass of cold tea waiting on your husband when he gets home. Wash the sink full of dishes so your wife will have one less thing to do after work. When you serve each other, you’re strengthening your relationship, providing for your spouse’s needs and showing your spouse how much you love and respect him/her.
8. Learn to appreciate his/her love language.
How does your spouse show his/her love for you? Does he keep your car in perfect working condition? Does she prepare five course meals for you? Figure out your spouse’s love language, acknowledge it and show your appreciation for it.
7. Listen to your spouse.
Turn off your device. Put it out of reach. Turn your face toward your spouse and make eye contact. Listen with all of you.
6. Laugh together.
Laughter is not only beneficial to individually health but also to the health of your marriage. Find ways to laugh with your spouse every day.
5. Be honest.
ALWAYS. Don’t even lie about the little things. Lies lead to mistrust. And trust is so very difficult to regain.
You and your spouse are not always going to see eye-to-eye. At some point in your relationship, compromises will have to be made. Be willing to meet in the middle or even give up your desire or point of view altogether.
3. Support your spouse.
Be your spouse’s biggest fan. Praise him/her at home and in the presence of others. Stand beside your spouse when no one else will. Support his/her dreams. Help your spouse reach his/her goals. When you build up your spouse, you’re also building up your marriage. It’s a win/win situation.
2. Dream together.
Plan your future together. Talk about it. Pray about it and make it happen – together.
Without ceasing. The key to happiness in marriage is God. When we strive to build a marriage that honors the Lord, all the other mess falls by the wayside. Pray daily for God to strengthen your marriage. Pray daily for your spouse. Be specific and be consistent.
Whew! Marriage is hard! I guess that’s why the Apostle Paul said it was better to remain single! But when you find the one you were meant to build a life with, it makes all the difference in the world.
Twenty years! My dad (who celebrates 57 years of marriage with my mom this year) says 20 is a great start. My husband and I have a long way to go to catch up to my parents but I’m looking forward to every single moment of it!
What about you? What would you add to my list of secrets to a happy marriage?