Shutterstock.com

No one wants to have an unhappy marriage. The idea of being trapped with a person who does not love you or spending your life growing increasingly distant from the person you used to love is nauseating. Just because a person wants to have a happy marriage, however, does not mean that they will succeed. A happy, lasting marriage is not something that simply happens. Both spouses need to work at maintaining and growing their relationship. Here are eight ways to have a happy marriage and keep growing your relationship.

Listen and Speak Up

Going to bed angry is a terrible idea in a marriage. While it can be a good idea to cool off after a fight so you do not say something you regret, keep that period of silence brief. Too often people go from cooling off to avoiding an uncomfortable conversation. This can lead to small issues festering and creating more serious problems in your marriage. When irritation is left unchecked and suppressed, a brief, sleep-deprived argument over the best way to burp the new baby can turn into an explosive fight about how one parent is not doing their job or does not care about the baby or their marriage. What should have been a small bump in the road becomes a massive problem.

To avoid this, make sure you both listen to each other’s concerns and speak up about your own. Your spouse’s pet peeves may seem strange or eye-roll inducing to you, but they matter deeply to your spouse. Extend them the same courtesy you want, and speak up when something bothers you. Do not leave it to fester by assuming a problem will fix itself. If you do not mention it, your spouse may have no idea there is a problem that needs addressing. 

Agree to Disagree

You will not agree on everything. The earlier you can accept that, the better for you and your marriage. You and your spouse should agree on the most important things, but there will always be things where you do not see eye to eye. In those cases, you and your spouse should be able to agree to disagree instead of letting little differences of opinions become a source of strife in your home.

Practice Patience

Patience is a necessity when it comes to a marriage. There will be days when your spouse drives you crazy and days where you or they are short tempered. Sometimes you will not understand why your spouse is having such a difficult time with something you find to be very simple. In those cases, you must be patient. Patience can keep arguments from ever beginning, irritation from turning into angry fights and keep words you will regret later from leaping off your tongue. Patience is not always easy, but an ounce of patience in the moment will save you a pound of regret later.

Continue Building Intimacy

Just because you have “won” and your spouse said “I do” does not mean that you can stop building intimacy with your spouse. Continue to share your fears, hopes and dreams with them. If you do not continue to build intimacy, it will wane, and you and your spouse will grow distant from each other. This emotional distance can be difficult to overcome. Keep having meaningful conversations and moments with your spouse, and avoid creating emotional distance in the first place.

Make Time For Each Other

It can be easy to put your marriage on the backburner when life gets busy. New jobs, new homes and, especially, new babies can cause spouses to stop focusing on each other and instead focus all their attention on the other concerns in their lives. To keep your marriage strong and happy, you need to make it a point to take some time and focus on your spouse. Find time to spend with just your spouse. Continue to date each other, and go out to a nice dinner every now and then. You can also simply make time at home. Set aside some time to just talk as husband and wife in the evenings, or go for a walk together in the morning. Find a way to keep your spouse at the forefront of your mind and a way to remind them that they are still your one and only.

Keep Your Own Life

Spouses sometimes get so caught up in becoming part of “we” that they forget how to be “me.” Their lives begin to revolve entirely around their spouse and couple activities. They may give up old hobbies or let single friends fall by the wayside. Letting go of your own identity, however, is a disaster in the making. To have a happy marriage, you need to be happy as an independent person, not just as part of a unit. You also need to continue to develop as a person. You cannot continue to grow, however, if you have no identity of your own, so resist the urge to become “Mr. Gina” or “Mrs. Steve” when you tie the knot. Hang on to your independence and your sense of self. After all, your spouse fell in love with you, not their own shadow.

Appreciate the Little Things

Gratitude and appreciation are important in every aspect of life, but they are especially important in your marriage. Feeling unappreciated by a spouse is one of the leading causes of affairs and divorces. Avoid taking your spouse and what they do for granted. Always say thank you, and say it sincerely. Make it a point to recognize how much your spouse does for you and tell them how much you appreciate all that they do. You can also show your thanks with little surprises such as making dinner for your spouse or taking them to see a movie that they have been wanting to see. How you show your appreciation does not matter as long as your spouse understands that you are being appreciative and that you do it often.

Be in It For the Long Haul

Marriage will not always be easy. You and your spouse will have ups and downs, good days and bad days. To have a happy marriage, you need to consciously decide that you are in it for the long haul. You need to know, and make sure your spouse knows, that you are not going to walk away as soon as things get difficult. You swore to be a loyal spouse “until death do us part.” Make it clear that you meant that vow sincerely.

Every spouse wants to have a happy marriage. Although some people make it sound like the formula to having a happy marriage is extremely complicated, the secrets to a happy marriage are actually incredibly simple. Respect your partner, listen to what they say and make a conscious decision every day to continue to love and treasure the person you stood beside at the altar.