happy marriage 1

A note from Alex: Welcome to the first post in a new five-part series, The Five Secrets of a Happy Marriage.

Having a happy marriage doesn’t just happen by accident. Marriage is a partnership, and like any partnership, it takes commitment, dedication and hard work to nurture it and help it grow strong.

The following five secrets have worked very well in my marriage for more than 30 years. Follow these secrets and adapt them to work in your own marriage, and you’ll be on your way to having what we all want – a happy marriage.

1. Communicate
2. Meet each other’s needs
3. Learn to resolve conflicts
4. Grow with each other
5. Maintain a commitment to the marriage

First Secret: Communicate

Happy marriages depend on expressing your thoughts and emotions to each other, of speaking and being heard. If not, everything else will live on shaky ground.

To have a successful marriage you have to make yourself an expert in communicating with your spouse. You have to try to understand what your partner is saying, and sometimes not saying, as well as try to analyze the underlying message or desire.

If your spouse is trying to talk to you, whether it’s to find out what you want for dinner, to tell you about their day, or to discuss a problem in the marriage, give them the same courtesy you’d give a complete stranger, and listen! Don’t try to finish their sentences, don’t try to solve their problems, and don’t ever say, “I told you so!”

Be Fully Present
The art of communicating and listening in your marriage is best illustrated when you are “fully present” for your spouse. To be fully present is to convey with your body language and attention that you not are distracted by any other event.

You let your spouse know he or she has all of the time necessary to talk. Your job is to listen, receive the information being shared and continue to provide a safe and nurturing environment. Even though you may not agree with everything being said, allow your spouse the space to communicate what’s on their mind.

Soon enough, it will be your turn to do the same. Therefore, model how you want your spouse to receive what you have to say.

Ask the Chicken
Successful couples also talk deeply about their expectations of each other. Think of the old joke, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” The answer in context to your marriage should be, “Ask the chicken.”

The point is not to assume what you spouse thinks or wants. If you are unsure about anything, simply ask.

Ask how they are feeling, what they would like to do, and if you are giving them what they need. When you do, the path to intimacy begins with communication.

Image Source: Google images

About Alex Blackwell
Alex Blackwell is a father, husband and writer.

More from Beliefnet and our partners