What are the keys to a happy marriage?

marriage tips

Wouldn’t you like to know the secret sauce to a happy and long-lasting marriage, especially from those happily married couples who have aced the art of leading a happy relationship?

We unveil secrets of a successful marriage that will help you problem-solve the marital issues, disarm the conflicting spouse and help you create and maintain a successful marriage.

Whether you are a newlywed or refer to yourselves as ‘old Ball ‘n’ Chain,’ every marriage has its share of ups and downs. While it may sound cliché, lulls and patterns of mundanity are natural to the ebb and flow of married life.

Periods of stress, boredom, and poor communication are part of the course.

“Marriage takes work.”

Marriage does take work, and like anything else in life, you have to do the work to reap the reward. But the work of marriage is not like cleaning the toilet and taking out the trash. The effort that goes into a successful marriage (read happy, functional and fulfilling) is the type of work that can be fun and therapeutic.

In a survey that we conducted, we asked happy couples to divulge the keys to a successful marriage. 

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They have learned to invest their money, energy, and time into the essentials of a healthy marriage:

Marriages take work, commitment, and love, but they also need respect to be truly happy and successful.

A marriage based on love and respect doesn’t just happen. Both spouses have to do their part. Below are some important keys to work on each day to make your marriage successful.

Love/Commitment

At its core, love is a decision to be committed to another person. It is far more than a fleeting emotion as portrayed on television, the big screen, and romance novels. Feelings come and go, but a true decision to be committed lasts forever—and that is what defines healthy marriages.

Marriage is a decision to be committed through the ups and the downs, the good and the bad. When things are going well, commitment is easy. But true love is displayed by remaining committed even through the trials of life.

Appreciate each other, your relationship, your family, and your lives together. Show gratitude when your partner cooks dinner, helps the kids with their homework or does the grocery shopping. It may help to take a few minutes each evening to tell each other at least one thing you appreciated that day.

Keep intimacy alive

Sex is very important to a healthy marriage. Sex should be regular, and therapists suggest doing it even when you’re not in the mood! 

We suggest keeping it interesting by talking about what pleases you and adding any fantasy role-playing, positions, or bedroom props you may want to introduce to keep it exciting. 

After all, what is a successful marriage if it doesn’t let you get what you desire?

Sexual Faithfulness

Sexual faithfulness in marriage includes more than just our bodies. It also includes our eyes, mind, heart, and soul. When we devote our minds to sexual fantasies about another person, we sacrifice sexual faithfulness to our spouse. When we offer moments of emotional intimacies to another, we sacrifice sexual faithfulness to our spouse.

Guard your sexuality daily and devote it entirely to your spouse. Sexual faithfulness requires self-discipline and an awareness of the consequences. Refuse to put anything in front of your eyes, body, or heart that would compromise your faithfulness.

Add romance

Wondering how to make a marriage successful? Go old school with your romance. Romantic acts can be many – try giving her a flower someday or place a love note in his briefcase or backpack. Surprise him with his favourite meal, or watch the sunset together. 

There is no shortage of marriage tips and ideas, and you’ll be amazed at how far a little romance goes toward strengthening the relationship.

Check out our post on 7 Essential Wedding Planning Tips and Tricks.

Humility

We all have weaknesses and relationships always reveal these faults quicker than anything else on earth. An essential building block of a healthy marriage is the ability to admit that you are not perfect, that you will make mistakes, and that you will need forgiveness. Holding an attitude of superiority over your partner will bring about resentment and will prevent your relationship from moving forward.

If you struggle in this area, grab a pencil and quickly write down three things that your partner does better than you—that simple exercise should help you stay humble. Repeat as often as necessary.

Patience/Forgiveness

Because no one is perfect, patience and forgiveness will always be required in a marriage relationship. Successful marriage partners learn to show unending patience and forgiveness to their partner. They humbly admit their faults and do not expect perfection from their partner. They do not bring up past errors to hold their partner hostage.

And they do not seek to make amends or get revenge when mistakes occur. If you are holding onto a past hurt from your partner, forgive him or her. It will set your heart and relationship free.

Everyone makes mistakes. Your spouse may hurt your feelings or do something that upsets you, and that may make you angry, even furious. But it’s important to deal with your feelings, let them go, and move on. Don’t keep bringing up the past.

Remember to remain committed to your spouse, your family, and the life that you have built together. Support each other emotionally and in everyday ways. You, your spouse, and your relationship may grow and change with time, but these ideas can help your marriage stay successful over the years.

Time

Relationships don’t work without the time investment. Never have, never will. Any successful relationship requires intentional, quality time together. And quality time rarely happens when quantity time is absent.

The relationship with your spouse should be the most intimate and deep relationship you have. Therefore, it is going to require more time than any other relationship. If possible, set aside time each day for your spouse. And a date-night once in a while wouldn’t hurt either.

With work and family responsibilities, it can be easy to lose the romance factor. Plan special dates, either to go out or just stay at home. If you have children, send them on a play date while you relax, talk, and enjoy each other’s company.

Date night

Among the other tips for a successful marriage, this tip is the most ignored and overlooked by couples, especially those who have been married for a while. It does not matter what a couple does on their date night.

Simply having a night when they spend their time just with each other strengthens the bond and maintains it over time. When you have a date night, you should turn your phones off and put them away, so you are free of distractions.

Watch a movie at home with popcorn or go hiking or rollerblading together. Change it up often and be helpful and positive for one another. Romantic and thoughtful date night is not just one of the steps to a successful marriage but indeed one of the main ingredients of a successful marriage as well.

It is important to schedule this monthly if not weekly in order to maintain accountability and establish a pattern of importance about date night.

Honesty and Trust.

Honesty and trust become the foundation for everything in a successful marriage. But unlike most of the other essentials on this list, trust takes time. You can become selfless, committed, or patient in a moment, but trust always takes time. Trust is only built after weeks, months, and years of being who you say you are and doing what you say you’ll do. It takes time, so start now—and if you need to rebuild trust in your relationship, you’ll need to work even harder.

Marriage therapist and researcher John Gottman, Ph.D., has found that criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling are serious threats to a marriage. The more a couple engages in these destructive activities, the more likely they are to divorce. His decades of research and of working with couples have shown that spouses who stay together know how to fight without being hostile and to take responsibility for their actions. They are also more likely to respond quickly to each other’s wishes to make up after fights and repair the relationship.

Communication.

Healthy marriage partners communicate as much as possible. They certainly discuss kids’ schedules, grocery lists, and utility bills. But they don’t stop there. They also communicate hopes, dreams, fears, and anxieties. They don’t just discuss the changes that are taking place in the kid’s life, and they also discuss the changes that are taking place in their own hearts and souls.

Talking with your spouse is one of the best ways to keep your marriage healthy and successful. Be honest about what you’re feeling but be kind and respectful when you communicate. Part of good communication is being a good listener and taking the time to understand what it is your spouse wants and needs from you. Keep the lines of communication open by talking often, and not just about things like bills and the kids. Share your thoughts and feelings.

This essential key cannot be overlooked because honest, and forthright communication becomes the foundation for so many other things on this list: commitment, patience, and trust—just to name a few.

Be a good listener

We need to talk.

Most partners dread this sentence but do you know that if you are wondering how to have a successful relationship, then creating a platform for healthy conversations is the way to go?

While all women should work in the art of active listening, we emphasize this as an area of special attention for men. Too often, men do not realize that all their partner needs from them are a listening ear. 

This is due to their programming and how they are taught to relate to others.

Remember that listening and hearing are not the same things. Listening involves our hearts. Open yours, hear what she says, look at her while she speaks, paraphrase even, and reassure.

Listening is the real key to a happy marriage; for that matter, to every relationship.

Understand that it’s OK to disagree

You won’t agree on everything, but it is important to be fair and respectful during disagreements. Listen to your spouse’s point of view. Try not to get angry and don’t let yourself become too frustrated. Walk away and calm down if you need to, then discuss the problem again when you’re both in a better frame of mind. Compromise on problems so that you both give a little.

Compliments

“A compliment a day keeps the divorce attorney away.” Acknowledging your partner’s positive attributes every day, and paying compliments will go a long way in your relationships. 

Stay positive and keep track of what your spouse does well. When the going gets rough, and his not-so-great attributes come forward, rather than focusing on the negative, try switching gears, and point out the positive stuff instead.

Acceptance

A major relationship killer, lack of acceptance is a trait more commonly attributed to women, who are known for their nagging. Remember, we married our spouse for who he was then, and who he is now. Even if we wanted to change him now, we can’t.

The key to a successful marriage lies in realizing this as soon as possible.

When urging or persuading him, you are only focusing on his weaknesses or problems. Change your perspective immediately and start focusing on positive traits instead.

Take responsibility

It is that easy and one of the secrets of a successful marriage. When you participate in a project, take responsibility for your successes and your failures.

When you and your partner have a disagreement or argument, remember to take responsibility for your actions, including anything you did or said, especially if it was hurtful, unthoughtful or created adversity.

Selflessness

Although it will never show up on any survey, more marriages are broken up by selfishness than any other reason. Surveys blame it on finances, lack of commitment, infidelity, or incompatibility, but the root cause for most of these reasons is selfishness. A selfish person is committed only to himself or herself, shows little patience, and never learns how to be a successful spouse. Give your hopes, dreams, and life to your partner. And begin to live life together.

Do not control

Married people often come to a place where they start to lose themselves, they give in to jealousy or feelings of inadequacy, or they forget that they are separate people away from their partners, and they may try to control their partners.

Most of the time, this is done inadvertently, as expectations may grow over time.

What makes a marriage successful are communication, independent time, and healthy indulgences that will keep any couple on track. If you sense you are being controlled or are the controller, get a handle on it or make an appointment for a family counsellor.

As you begin to do these things, you’ll notice that your focus automatically starts to shift away from you and your desires and over to God and your partner. As a result, communication problems begin to improve, anger and resentment fade away, and you naturally want to spend more time together. Of course, you can’t expect such changes to happen overnight. Your relationship is also bound to face financial pressures, child-rearing issues and other problems that are beyond your control. But if you commit your relationship to God and make a conscious decision each day to put God and your partner first, your marriage will be able to weather any storm. Not only that; you’ll also have plenty of fun together along the way!

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