How to Be Happy and Married: 24 Tips from a 24-Year-Old Marriage
My husband and I celebrated our 24th anniversary last week. Here are a few things I've learned about having a happy, long-lasting marriage.
1. Talk. Take time to talk everyday, just for fun, and set aside time to discuss and reach agreement on serious matters.
2. Don’t expect your spouse to be a mind reader, even if he (or she) really should know what you want.
3. Forget the type of compromise that means thinking of yourself in favor of finding solutions that work for you as a couple. This processmay requirea complete reversal in your thinking and not justmaking a few concessions.
4. Let her have her way (or his way) sometimes, even without fully understanding the rationale for a request or decision. (Some needs can bedifficult to articulate.)
5. Go to weddings where you’ll likely be reminded of promises you made. Phrases such as staying together “richer or poorer” and “in sickness and in health” don’t describe hypothetical situations but future reality.
6. Be your spouse’s advocate. There are times when you may need to protect or defend your husband or wife.
7. Never go to bed mad. Anger shouldn’t simmer but should be dealt with as quickly as possible.
8. Make reasonable requests but don’t pressure or make unreasonable demands.
9. Don’t compete with each other. Compete with other couples if you’d like but never with each other.
10. Play outside. I like to go hiking or swing (at playgrounds). Just because you’re married now doesn’t mean you always have to act like a grown-up.
11. Give something up, if necessary, to reach a mutual goal…so your spouse can see where your priorities lie. Just beware — one person shouldn’t always be the one to sacrifice.
12. Celebrate. We celebrate our first date, engagement, and wedding anniversaries in addition to birthdays and holidays.
13. Laugh. My husband loves to make me laugh and is always trying to say the perfect funny thing. (More than 15 years later, I still remember when he started singing "macho man" when we saw a shirtless guy running up the road to Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga, Tennessee, where we had gone to celebrate our wedding anniversary.)
14. Indulge. I’m not giving license to dine out every evening or take Caribbean vacations a few times a year (unless you can clearly afford to) but realize that some fun can help bond you as a couple.
15. Take care of your kids but don’t put them first in everything you do. Obviously, there are times when your children need full attention and anything less could be disastrous but they don’t have to be the center of your life every waking moment.
16. Learn to love your extended family. You don’t have to agree or even condone everything each and every family member says, does, or must be thinking. Acceptance can go a long way and after a while, you may actually find one or two (or more) family membersyou genuinely like.
17. Be flexible. Being able to adapt to changing circumstances is not only necessary (sometimes) at home, work, and elsewhere, but it can also reinforce convictions that what is most important is your commitment to each other and not a set of convenient circumstances.
18. Talk about problems with your spouse or a counselor, rather than your best friend or someone who may tend to see just your perspective and may not encourage you to talk things over with your beloved.
19. Don’t depend on your spouse for everything.
20. Encourage your spouse to develop her or his talents, and do the things he or she enjoys.
22. Keep learning about each other and the world. (Even after 24 years, my husband and I still find that we don’t know everything about each other, and can tell stories about our pasts that the other has never heard.)
23. Be loyal and faithful.
24. Believe. To me, promising that you’ll stay married to someone forever, whether you were childhood sweethearts or datedfor a few months (and neither is a guarantee of marriage longevity or brevity) is an act of faith.
My list isn't exhaustive so if you been married awhile or even if you just got married, share your secrets for happiness together.