21 Tips for a Happy Marriage (without Marriage Counselling)
Yes! It’s a Yes!
On the evening of the day Australians voted Yes to same sex marriage (Yay Australia!) I mulled over the reasons so many of us, straight or gay, want to get married in the first place, and then started thinking about how to keep marriage happy (without resorting to marriage counselling.)
Is there truly such a thing as a totally happy marriage?
We’ve just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary (above) at the Pullman Bunker Bay Resort in South Western Australia, but I’m not writing this because I think I have all (or any) of the answers. No Way! As yet we haven’t had to seek marriage counselling, although I’m sure we would if we ever felt we needed to.
OHMIGOSH we looked so young in this photo (below) on our wedding day in Durban, South Africa. Babes in the woods! We didn’t have a clue, and we’ve muddled along like so many others have before us and will after us, but despite ups and downs we are still happy and we are still best friends, and I’m so very grateful.
How to have a happy marriage without marriage counselling?
Nobody’s given a rule book at the altar as far as I know!
Well-meaning guests and family might offer a few broad stroked nuggets of advice, guests might write pithy one-liners on wedding cards, but in all seriousness unless the priest or vicar has done an exemplary job in marriage counselling classes beforehand I think we’re very much on our own.
Holey Moley, there are not any hard and fast rules for a happy marriage, in fact finding good advice for how to have a happy marriage without marriage counselling is all a bit hit and miss.
Are there any secrets written in hidden tomes? Not that I know about.
I think a happy marriage like any other relationship in life, one that has to be nurtured, cherished and worked at? And sometimes we get it right, other times we get it so wrong. But we can’t just ignore it and let it go to the dogs.
Of course many marriages do go to the dogs – and for good reasons, or perhaps no good reasons. Life and marriage is a bit of a lottery all round, but if you’re dealt a good set of cards then you have to learn to play them well.
The secret of a happy marriage
I remember when we married, 30 years ago last week, the Vicar asked us: “What do you think the secret of a happy marriage is?” and we looked at each other and replied in rather congratulatory unison (like we had it sussed!), “Give and Take.”
But the vicar looked back at us and said quietly, “Nearly, but not quite. The secret is to give and give and give and give,” implying (we hoped I suppose) that the ‘take’ bit would take care of itself.
And we have both given and given and given over the years, in many different ways, and so far we are still really lucky to be really happy, and still married without needing marriage counselling.
So maybe that is our secret?
But I think not.
Every relationship is different and over the years I’ve come to realise that there are quite a few other things at play which help us stay married.
I bet if you’ve been married for any number of years, you have your own recipe for a happy marriage too?
So this post is hopefully not a preachy preachy preamble, it’s not saying that marriage counselling isn’t necessary in some case, but it is hopefully a bit of a reminder to all of us who are married to keep on keeping on, and most of all to keep paying attention.
Doesn’t matter whether you’re in a same sex or heterosexual marriage. Same Same. Love is love. I think a good marriage needs a bit of magic, but it also needs us to put in the hard yards.
Anyway I’d love to hear your take on all this, or your tips in the comments below.
21 easy Tips for a Happy Marriage – in 21 not so easy steps!
- Love each other … to bits.
- When you can’t love each other, don’t be nasty to each other.
- Never go to bed angry with each other. Say sorry, even if you don’t truly feel it at the time.
- Don’t expect your spouse to make you happy.
- Do things together. Be best friends. (We love walking, bicycling and then dining out together! Below is the view from one of our favourite restaurants and wineries, Hackersley. I wrote about it here.)
- Do things apart from each other – your own hobbies and interests are still important.
- Chat about the meaning of life, or sports or politics or something that means a lot to you – don’t always talk about the kids or the groceries.
- Exercise together (ahem, horizontally and vertically.)
- Ask about what the day holds for your spouse, and if there’s a big meeting or an important event, later on ask how it went.
- Always treat your spouse with admiration and respect – especially in public.
- Keep the romance coming – try and think of small romantic gestures and things to do to surprise each other.
- Remember you’re never too old to hold hands, or look lovingly at each other in public.
- If you do fight, then fight fairly. Air your grievances in as calm a manner as possible, but don’t spout vitriol.
- Know when not to sweat the small stuff. Is it really worth getting in a stew about dirty socks on the floor?
- If there are chores that need doing, ask nicely.
- Put your marriage first. Your children will leave home one day, but hopefully your spouse will stay.
- Do things together. Have a weekly date night, or go and do something nice together. Enjoy each other’s company in fun situations.
- Try not to set huge expectations of each other.
- Acknowledge what’s great about each other, and tell each other frequently.
- Escape for a weekend away even if it’s just down the road, or go on a cruise or travel somewhere exotic. We recently escaped to Margaret River, in South West Australia and had a wonderful 3 days away in a resort including a celebratory lunch at Amelia Park Restaurant (I’ve written about the restaurant Here – Review.)
- If you don’t like where you live – move! Life’s too short not to grab it by both hands together. So have an adventure and go live and work somewhere else for a while. We did. But after 21 moves (okay they were mostly job related) we’ve finally settled! We’ve lived in Western Australia for nearly 9 years now and love it – you can listen to why I love this part of the world in this podcast (online radio show) hosted by Amanda Kendle.
And here, because I found them tucked away in a dusty old photo album, are some photos from our big day, 30 years ago.
Yikes, have you put on weight since the fitting? I can’t look – “Will it do up?”
“Let me help you with your make-up Mum.”
So happy. But heck! Check those powder puff sleeves!
Ha! The look of love!
He’s so handsome 🙂 and he still is 🙂 Ahhhhh xx
Thanks to the Lovin’ Life Linky team who inspired me to write this post. I’m lovin’ life and doing my best to keep my marriage happy one day at a time. If you’d like to read the start of my memoir (cough!), you can check out two related posts here: Memoir on ZigaZag.
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What tips do you have for matrimonial happiness?