Five secrets for a happy marriage

First of all I’d like to begin this post by saying happy anniversary to a very special couple. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll be very familiar with one Rock n Roll Bride, run by a very kick-ass lady, Kat. I’d already written this post, but I just found out that today is Kat and her husband Gareth’s “marriversary”. Kat wrote a beautiful piece which I can’t really do justice here but I won’t try – read it, read it, read it. Instead, despite the fact that they really don’t need my advice, I’m going to dedicate this piece to them – because as a couple they are a pretty good benchmark to aim for. Congratulations, Kat and Gareth – here’s to many more!

Five secrets for a happy marriage

Talk

Before I got married, I was talking to a friend of mine who is also a counsellor. It was the usual pre-wedding worries – what if something goes wrong with my marriage? Can two people sustain that much love for a whole lifetime? She gave me perhaps some of the best pre-wedding advice I was given: she told me John and I would be just fine because we know how to talk to each other.

As a therapist, the biggest problem she sees when she counsels anyone with marital difficulties is that they can’t communicate, not the good, the bad or the ugly. She believes the foundation of any great marriage is communication – don’t let your partner become a stranger.

Support

I don’t ever want to look at John and wonder “when did we stop being on the same team?” You don’t always have to agree on everything, but marriage is a partnership. Mutual support is a crucial part of it. Like Kat, I have an unbelievably supportive husband who gives me the tools, space and unconditional encouragement I need to run this blog. Similarly I try (and hope I succeed sometimes) to listen to his needs and support him in them too.

Lots of things will come along over the years to challenge your unit as a team, whether you choose to have kids or you just hit a brick wall (in politics it’s called a wedge issue) but if you can work through your differences and learn to work together under any circumstances, then you can get through anything.

Image © Satureyes

Love

It sounds so simple, doesn’t it – but so many couples forget, when they criticise each other or say hurtful things, that they are talking to the person they love.

Our arguments end pretty quickly. They end the minute one of us looks sad – because the other can’t bear to be the cause of that. So remember to be compassionate, because in the heat of the moment you may say things you won’t mean in five minutes, and it will hurt a lot more when you realise that you’ve caused each other pain.

Fun

There’s this bizarre, culturally ingrained belief that marriage isn’t supposed to be fun. Says who exactly? The happiest couples I know are the ones who do things. They go out dancing together, they try new things together, they travel, they enjoy their lives. With kids and work in the picture I know that’s so much easier said than done, but try to make time to go and have fun together.

Keep your marriage alive, challenge yourselves and each other and don’t fall into a rut – life’s too short.

Space

John doesn’t accompany me everywhere I go. We spend a lot of time together, but we don’t spend every single evening glued to each other. Being married doesn’t mean you are chained to the other person for life, it means you are two people who have chosen to go on a journey together. Some days you might feel like walking alone – that’s really OK. All that it means is that at the end of the day you’ll have something to tell each other.

I strongly believe that one of the best things you can do for a marriage (if you can afford it) is to each have your own room. It doesn’t need to be a bedroom or anything like that, it’s just a room that’s entirely yours. When that door is closed and you’re having your alone time, that is your sanctuary and there are boundaries around it.

That doesn’t mean you should spend all your time apart or ignore each other, but the knowledge that you have somewhere to go to be alone is invaluable and I highly recommend it. I usually come out of my own little bubble a much happier wife than when I went in.

Do you agree with the above? Do you have any tips that have helped your marriage? We’d love to hear from you!

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