Wednesday, April 18, 2012

10 Secrets to a Happy Marriage

Have you ever looked at a couple and wondered what their secrets to a happy marriage are?  I know I have.  Lucky for me I have lots of great examples: my parents, my in-laws, my grandparents, and of course a few friends here and there.  One of the things I learned rather quickly is that marriage is HARD!  It takes a lot of work and has lots of bumps.  We've had a lot of heartbreak and some pretty trying times in the last few years and yet... I still feel like I have a happy marriage.  Even in those darkest moments my husband will have me laughing over something.  How can that be?  How can your heart be broken in a million pieces but you still wouldn't trade your life for anything?  I don't know that I have an answer for that other then that's just part of marriage.

So here are 10 of my Secrets to a Happy Marriage:

1) Write Each Other Love Notes:
We've done this in a few different ways.  We each have a journal for one another.  The idea is that each week or as often as we like we take each other's journal and write a love letter.  We started this after my husband read the book The Wednesday Letters early in our marriage.  It has been fun going back and re-reading those love letters and reminiscing on the past.  It's also not uncommon for random sticky notes to end up all over the house throughout the week.

2) Learn to be Spontaneous:
This one has been a little harder for me to learn.  I am a planner through and through.  Ask me what I'm wearing in two Sundays from now.  While I love structure I have seen the value of picking up and doing the unexpected.  Sometimes it is quickly packing an overnight bag and heading to a some new destination for exploration, other times it is as simple as letting your husband push your around the dance floor even if you are trying to make dinner.

3.) Invite Friends Over/ Game Nights:
When we were first married we lived in an area where we didn't know anyone.  We were in school and found that while we loved being with one another we missed the social aspects of our lives before.  So we started having "Cookie Nights."  We would invite a few couples over for cookies and games.  It is a tradition we have carried over through the years.  Sometimes its a bbq other times it is a Wii Just Dance party.  We try and mix it up a little.  Usually by the end of the night we have both laughed so much that we can't help but feel happy with our marriage.  (FYI:  We do better playing on the same team:)  

4.) Sing As Loud As You Can In the Car:
I know it sounds a little silly but if you can't let your hair down with your spouse than who can you with?  Our marriage has us on the road quite a bit and you can bet that Journey has never been done quite like our renditions.  Once again it's one of those moments where you forget about the hard parts of marriage and just have fun.  I dare you to try it and not laugh.

5.)  Take Turns Planning Weekly Dates:
Dating your spouse after marriage is probably more important than the courtship before (and that's pretty important).  Marriage is about give and take.  Thus one week we will do something I like and the next we do something he likes.  Believe it or not but we are two completely different people with different interests.  It goes a long way in marriage if you try something your spouse enjoys or wants to do.

6.) Let the Other Person Have Their Own Activities:
While it is important to date on a weekly basis and alternate activities it is just as important to let the other person participate in activities with people other than you.  I know shopping with my besties is a better experience for me and my husband when I don't have to drag him along.  I am happy when he comes home from a great day on the golf course with his buddies.  Not only am I not a patient person with the clubs but its good for him to have friends other than me.  My husband is my best friend but lets face it, he is not a girl and sometimes there are needs that need to be met by another girl.  It's all about balance.  

7.)  Support Your Spouse In Their Hobbies/Dreams:
I know this is kind of like #5 and #6.  However it's important for a happy marriage to know that your spouse supports you whether it is attending your city league softball game or helping you achieve your dreams of being a business owner.  Support often takes some form of sacrifice which is part of the very definition of love and love leads to happiness.    

8.) Take time to Unplug From the World:
The husband and I both have jobs that have us on the computer a lot.  We have meetings throughout the week.  Even if we happen to be home at the same time we often obligations that keep us apart.  One thing we have recently tried out is calendaring each other in.  Each Monday we look at our weekly calendar and discuss times when perhaps we can pull away from the computer, phone, tv, etc and just be with one another.  Again it may sound silly but we will schedule times for us to sit in the same room and read, going on a short walk, play a game, etc.  Otherwise technology often overtakes us and we find ourselves at the end of the week wondering who the other one is.

9.)  Take time to Remember Where You've Been:
This is one of my favorite things to do as a couple.  It's important to remember how far you've come and the fun and happiness you have had regardless of all the bad.  I love conversations that start with, "Remember that one time when I made you take back women's underwear because I accidentally bought it 10 sizes too big."  It's a chance to talk about the good times but also to get to know your spouse better.  Share stories from when you were a child; a favorite memory, favorite birthday, a story about your grandparents, etc.  Sometimes this can be a conversation, other times it can be  sitting at the computer looking through photos from years past.

10.)  Learn How To Talk with Your Spouse:
This is probably the most important.  When we were first married we found ourselves in counseling together to learn how to help manage my anxiety.  I am not ashamed one bit to admit that we were in counseling.  It is perhaps one of the best things we've done to ensure a happy marriage.  Through this process my husband learned how I think and why I do the things I do and vice-versa.  Guess what? We think differently and have different needs.  He learned that most of the time unless I specifically ask, I don't need him to fix my problems, I need him to listen and just be there.  Listening can go a long way.  I learned that he needed more validation from me.  The process of learning to communicate has taught us to trust.  It takes a lot to give someone your inner most feelings and thoughts and trust that they will handle them with care.  Being able to calmly discuss our fears, problems, and work through our differences builds not only a happy marriage but a strong one.  I can't emphasize it enough.  Talking consistently with your spouse is so so important.  This includes telling my husband on a daily basis that I love him.  While I think he knows that he still needs to hear it as do I.

There are things in our marriage that bring sadness, like our miscarriages but, in the end the happiness of the other parts of our marriage wins; making life together the best gift we have been given.

What are some your secrets to a happy marriage?


  1. #10 is the same as the advice my dad gave me on my wedding day. It's proven true so far. Great list!

  2. Great post, followed and repinned!

    I collect quotes, and the sweetest one I have is this:

    If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together.. There is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart.. I’ll always be with you... ~ Pooh Bear

  3. Thanks Vincent, I love that quote! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Dear Sarah, I loved that! After almost 17 years some of the best advise I can give is if he squeezes his toothpaste from the middle, and you roll your from the bottom, get separate tubes :)


  5. Sarah Dawn! I'm so glad I found this blog. I have missed talking with you. This post is so sweet and so well written. Thanks for sharing it. Something Jeff and I have found is that sometimes it is just fun to read together. We pick books that we both will enjoy and take turns reading aloud. It's a good way to break up those quiet evenings when you are both reading your own books in the same room. :) Miss you girl!

  6. They are all so important. Maybe I should show him this list!! Thank you Sarah!

  7. thanks Sarah. I'd add, be willing to learn to communicate better and to work through difficulties, and don't be afraid to ask for help. No couple can make it on their own these days. The community and support system is essential. And of course you both also give support when you can.

    [35 years so far.... :]

  8. Great advice. I would just change number 7. Support them in their dream, as long as it doesn't put the family in financial jeopardy, or any other jeopardy. With marriage comes responsibility, and the responsibility to the family is more important to any one person's dreams. Dreams are nice, but knowing that we are doing our duty to our children and spouse is how we can get fulfillment, even if we are board, or hate our job, or get tired of dishes, etc. Once married, dreams should only be sought after if all responsibilities are being done. Too much emphasis is put on "going after dreams". If one sacrifices their family, financial well being, and health, was that dream worth it? No! Sometimes we have to sacrifice our dreams to be a good mom, or dad. But we can make new ones that fit the boundaries of marriage and family. If my spouse puts the family at risk to fulfill his dream. I will do whatever I can to stop him, because if I don't, the consequences could hurt us for years and years. If he is unhappy because he can't fulfill his dream that puts us deep in debt, he can be unhappy! Family first, personal dreams second!

    1. I agree with you that dreams should not put the rest of your family in danger or financial ruin. I'm all about trying to live debt free. However we all have little dreams and big dreams, some we can work on now. I guess my point was more to just support each other as often as we can, with priorities in hand. Communication helps in this area to make sure dreams don't get out of hand.

  9. A great list of reminders! I'd be tickled if you'd link up at Off the Hook!

  10. What a great list! I need to be reminded of these! Thanks so much for sharing! Have a wonderful day!

  11. Sarah,
    I LOVE your blog and I LOVE this post. We do a lot of these things and need a little reminder to do better at some of them. After 35 years I am still madly in love.
    Thank you for sharing at my party. Hope to see you next week.
    Wanda Ann @ Memories by the Mile

  12. I've been married over 44 years. Never did any of that stuff.

    1. LOL!!!!! I just cant stop laughing!!! My question would be is it a happy marriage but my respect would be 100%. Anyone whose been married that long deserves the respect of us newbie married folks. Will be ten for me in June of this year. We don't have to necessarily go out of our way for each other...mostly we do love and enjoy each other naturally but I do believe that adding in some extra work here or there can only pay off for the good. LOVE the post appreciate the comment though.