Our own wedding anniversary is March 10th and at the time of writing (November 2018) we’ve been happily married for 17 years. We know that there are lots of people looking for tips on how to be happily married so we decided to not only offer our own advice but to also find out what other people say is the secret to a successful marriage.
All of the advice below has come from people who have been married for a long time and are still content with their choices.
1. Everyone Argues, Get Over It
It’s difficult to know how to get over an argument at times, sometimes you feel as if you don’t want to, it’s easier to walk away – sometimes for good.
The answer to getting over an argument lies within two simple words that can be easier said than done but not impossible to get to grips with.
Compassion: Being able to see a situation from someone else’s perceptive is one of the best life skills you can ever learn.
Everybody makes decisions based upon risk and reward but people express this in different ways depending upon their personality.
If you don’t consider other people’s point of view and how it affects them, instead you perhaps think how it just affects you then you’re in for a difficult time making decisions that will be of benefit to those around you.
So to keep this simple, understand first of all that:
- Everybody is a grump sometimes and
- Sometimes they just can’t help it
Look, people are emotive creatures who sometimes let their emotions make the decisions for them, especially when that person is so close to you that they feel as if they can show you their true feelings, you are going to see the good and the bad. People’s mood can be affected by any number of things from stress to just being tired. This includes yourself.
So when you have an argument you should consider these points even if you are trying to see the logical side of an argument, there may not always be one!
Which brings us on to the second important point: Forgiveness.
People who stay together do so because they forgive each others flaws. It’s so easy to brood on a problem and let those negatives thoughts about an argument or something you don’t like about your partner swirl around your head until you POP! Rather than get that far you should take practical action to sort any problems out.
Try to be logical about how you sort it out with your partner but at the same time remember to be compassionate and understand that they may not see the rationale in your opinion for lots of reasons but always remember to have compassion – stress, tiredness, boredom, depression all play a part in why people act the way they do – so instead of remaining steadfast in your logic, have compassion instead and decide to forgive them.
There is a famous saying regarding not forgiving somebody, “it’s like taking poison yourself and expecting somebody else to die.”
If you live your life without accepting difficulties happen and trying to either fix the issue or forgive the person you are setting yourself up for a very difficult time.
Have compassion, forgive them (and yourself) and move on. This is a key to a successful marriage.
2. Treat Your Partner Like Your Best Friend – Because They Are!
It’s so easy to take those around you for granted. You feel so comfortable with other people that they can often just become part of the furniture. It’s a fact that most people (unless you’re an adrenaline junkie) live large parts of their lives within their own comfort zone. This includes couples and families too.
So when you feel down, angry, upset or any other negative emotion it’s all too easy to vent onto those surrounding you…because you feel comfortable enough to do so.
So the first lessons above, compassion and forgiveness, then give rise to the next lesson – treat your partner like your best friend.
In fact there is an interim step require before this – become your own best friend first!
Unless you accept your own flaws and treat yourself with compassion and forgiveness it’s difficult to give this to other people because you will feel so internally conflicted.
Make yourself feel better first – the rest will follow
Spend some time everyday thinking about how you can make yourself feel better, it may be a simple thing like a short walk around the block or a nice bath, whatever you enjoy doing.
Then apply the same thinking to your partner. What do they like doing? Is there something you can do for them that you know they would like?
After spending a lot of time with a person you get to know them and it’s easy to become complacent but you shouldn’t be.
Life is what you make it, if you don’t like something then change it and if you can’t change it then change the way you look at it.
In terms of a relationship you should work at it, if you don’t like something then talk about it. If it’s something that cannot for whatever reason be resolved or compromised then you need to change the way you look at it.
I realize that this sounds quite vague but it can apply to so many circumstances so think of something that you cannot change about your own relationship and change the way you look at it from a compassionate and forgiving point of view, accept all of the positive things about it.
3. Life Is A Series Of Moments, Make Each One Count
When you are young it’s so easy to think that live goes on forever, but as time goes on (especially when loved ones around you pass away) you start to understand that life is a series of moments that pass really quickly so make those moments last.
After all it’s only the moments that you’ll remember, you won’t remember watching TV programmes or your evening meals. But you WILL remember moments that stand out, good or bad, so make more of those moments good ones.
Easier said than done right?
There are a million sayings and encouraging slogans based around “Go for it”, “Don’t put of tomorrow what you can do today”, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.
There’s truth in these when it comes to your marriage too. If you don’t put the effort in then you’ll get very little back out.
It’s easy to sit and watch TV each night. It’s easy to blame the sleep, wake up, sort the kids out, work, pick the kids up, eat, TV, sleep, repeat pattern that sees most people working their lives away and living in a drunken stupor at the weekends but there’s one one thing that we all have in common – time.
Time is our most precious resource and one wasted by many because of procrastination.
Don’t procrastinate – PLEASE!
Your relationship doesn’t have to be about bungie jumping or visiting exotic places as often as possible – it’s about making each moment count.
Recent years have seen an explosion in Mindfulness and without changing the topic of this post too much, I’d just like to say you must read this book. This book changed the lives of an incredible amount of people including our own.
It’s called “Peace in a frantic world” by Mark Willams & Danny Penman and is without a doubt the definitive guide to enjoying each momemt of each day without brooding on the past or worrying about the future.
The long and the short of it here is that if you spend time thinking about the past or dwelling on problems and you fail to enjoy each moment you are not getting the best out of your time.
If you couple this with understanding what little (and big) things make you and your partner tick then you have a winning combination to leading a very happy life full of memorable moments, each memory you have is one of the moments so go and create more.
4. The Grass Ain’t always Greener Somewhere Else
During our research we looked into why marriages break up and often cited was reasons such as boredom, wanting independence, fancying someone else and sick of the way things are currently.
What is interesting is how people think a year down the line after making a decision to end a marriage.
Sometimes it works out okay and people often say they are happier after a divorce but there are still a great deal of people who have regrets.
Either way there’s no denying that separating from your partner affects things like your finances, friends and kids. Some people may be happy with their new found freedom but there will always be a downside.
A key to a successful marriage is to come to the realization that as much as you may want to be with another person, have your own independence, own money or ability to do what you want when you want quite often these things are only a temporary solution and you may find that you regret the divorce after a while.
If you were to count up all of bad things about your marriage you should consider all of the good things too.
If you were to leave your spouse for somebody else for example who may be quite different to your current husband or wife, remember that you once thought of your partner in this same way too and this new person and yourself could be experiencing a honey moon phase which will end.
What will the new relationship look like in a year, two years or more?
It won’t always be better – granted it won’t always be worse but will it be vastly different?
The point being made here is that having read dozens of testimonials from divorcees living with regret the number one reason was because they thought they would be happier whereas in fact they just got another person.
With some people this can become a serial thing as they continually look for Mr or Mrs right throughout their lives without ever finding them.
To make a relationship work you need to work at it. It’s never easy but for the people who stick it out and live together to an old age the advice is always the same – stick it out, thick and thin.
Stay true to your wedding vows “in sickness and in health”. If you are unhappy then tackle the reasons why or change the way you look at them.
Financially speaking you are probably better off staying in a relationship too. If your other half has money problems then help them sort it out, it’s up to you to manage your own finances but if your partner struggles then take control of it rather than walking away. Get professional help if you need to. Thick and thin.
5. Don’t Worry, Don’t Brood
This last key is not one which came direct from our research from happily married couples. In fact it came from people very near the end of their lives who were asked to give the younger generations some advice about the best way to live their lives.
And do you know what the number 1 piece of advice given by all of these people can be summed up as? Don’t worry.
It can also be summed by following with don’t brood.
The human brain is designed to figure things out. It is constantly working out how to survive and it does this by figuring out problems.
Our problem as humans is that we don’t just think of a solution, we brood on the problem. We also ruminate about things that we have no control such as events in the past or we worry about the future because we are uncertain.
Life is all about uncertainty, its just built into the system. We can’t change the past. We can only influence the future.
Think of all those times that you thought the worst case scenario would happen and then didn’t. Do you suppose in a week, month or years time you will look back and think the same thing about the stuff you’re going to worry about over the coming days, weeks or months? You betchya!
By focusing upon the quality of the here and now and getting the best out of the moment you can learn to not give a stuff about the uncertain future or to keep brooding on the past.
Again, “Peace in a frantic world” is just the tool that you need to be able to master this skill and move forward without regrets or future worries.
You have to practise this regularly because it will fade away if you don’t but if you do make it a part of your regular routine then your own personality and mental health will improve.
If you improve this you will also improve the relationship you have with the people around you too.
Of course this includes your husband or wife.
So in simple terms don’t worry or brood about the past or the future instead focus on creating great memories by making the best out of each moment of the day.
Here’s a great article that contains some great advice from centurions on how to live the best life.
We hope these words have helped you figure out how to have a happy marriage, it certainly has been very interesting doing the research to gather all of the data and we’ve learnt a lot about how to have a long and happy marriage in the process.
Here’s those bullet points again:
- Everyone Argues – Get Over It.
- Treat Your Partner Like Your Best Friend – Because They Are!
- Life Is A Series Of Moments, Make Each One Count.
- The Grass Ain’t always Greener Somewhere Else.
- Don’t Worry, Don’t Brood
The bottom line is life isn’t easy and people can be horrible to each other. Most people share the largest part of their waking day with people they work with and you often don’t get to choose who these people are.
But you do get to choose who you spend the rest of your time with and you should strive to make it work. Again, it isn’t easy but if you remember these 5 simple tips for a happy marriage and you make them work for you then according to all of those people with long successful marriages you’ll be just fine.
People also ask:
What advice do I give the bride?
We answered this in our blog post “Marriage advice for the bride” where we give you a complete and honest answer from investigating what advice people who have been married for many years would give.