Friday, June 22, 2012

Six Tips for a Happy Marriage

June 1996
Today is my 16th wedding anniversary.  Like any couple, we have had some highs & lows, but overall, I count myself very lucky in love.  Since there are a lot of June brides out there, I thought I would share my tips for a happy marriage.  I'm not a marriage therapist, and I know everyone's relationship is different, but these are some of the reasons my husband and I are celebrating our anniversary today.

Tip #1: Don't Nag. 
I thought I would start the list off with a hard one.  I'm a nag.  I'll admit it.  I also know that my nagging has resulted in a lot of our problems over the years.  When I want to nag or tell my husband exactly how to do something, I try to remind myself that he got through his first 25 years without me.  He also somehow manages to spend 8-10 hours a day at work and seems to be functioning just fine.  He may not always do things the way I would, but if the end result is the same, does it really matter?

Tip #2:  Time Frames & Importance
Still on the topic of nagging.  I have only just come to realize that my husband and I don't have the same views on the urgency level or importance of certain tasks.  When I ask him to fix something, I often mean now or within 24 hours.  He's more laid back.  So now, when I ask him to do a task for me, I take a moment to also tell him if it's important to me and when I would like it to be done.  We negotiate from there.  It's made a huge difference. 

Tip #3: Awards & Expectations
I have a problem with needing to be praised for tasks.  I get very frustrated when my husband doesn't notice that I just spent the afternoon organizing the pantry.  I finally realized that organization isn't really something he especially cares about.  I'm the one who likes things neat and tidy.  So if I'm going to clean out the pantry, I need to be honest about the fact that I'm doing it for me, not for my family.  Expecting them to notice or care isn't fair when it's not even on their radar.  I do, however take the time to bask in my own satisfaction and give myself little rewards for a job well done.

Tip #4: Be Nice.
One of our family dinner rituals is to ask each other to list one nice thing we did for someone else that day and one nice thing that was done for us.  Having a culture of kindness seeps into every aspect of your life.  I fell in the love all over again the night my husband told us about how he helped a co-worker who was struggling to get up the stairs with some boxes.  I know we also all look ways for ways to act kindly to one another.  No one wants to be the only one who has no kind deed to report at dinner!

Tip #5: Help Me Meetings
My husband and I take time to check-in with one another on a weekly basis and find out how the week looks for each of us, and then we find ways to pick-up the slack for one another.  I recently had a week full of deadlines, so my husband spent the weekend pre-cooking three meals so that I wouldn't have to worry about dinner.  On the flip side, he lets me know ahead of time if I should expect to him be home late from work.  I'm always happy to cover for him and have a girls' night with my daughter, as long as I have a little notice to mentally prepare for a long day.

Tip #6: Get Help
We went through a very tough spot when our daughter was little.  Exhausted from lack of sleep and the overwhelming needs of a baby, my husband and I turned on each other and both felt frustrated and under-appreciated.  While therapy might have been a solution, we found these worksheets and spent a tear-filled evening working our way through them.  Our marriage has been back on track ever since.  There are so many resources out there. Use them.  There's no reason to struggle needlessly.  A lifetime commitment to someone is as hard as it is wonderful.  Don't be afraid to get help when you need it.

What are your tips for happy marriage/relationship?
December 2011