Building a happy marriage – it seems so hard, doesn’t it?
We all have urgent problems to deal with at work and at home, so it’s easy to let our marriage take a back seat.
But building a healthy marriage isn’t rocket science.
People come to me for help if they want their children to become both happy and successful. As such, I’ve interacted with lots of married couples. Some are extremely happy, while others are extremelyunhappy.
What sets these two groups of couples apart?
I’ve observed that it’s a series of simple, practical actions.
In this article, I’ll list the 15 things I’ve observed that happily married couples do differently. (I’m married too, so I can confirm that these tips work!)
Whether you’re married or hoping to get married in the future, I trust you’ll find this list useful:
1. They wear their wedding ring in public all the time.
It’s been said that wedding rings are the smallest handcuffs in the world. Understandably, unhappy couples often choose not to wear these “handcuffs”. (I’ve noticed that this is particularly so for unhappy husbands; many unhappy wives still wear their wedding rings.)
This is a sign that the couple isn’t committed to working through their issues, which hastens the deterioration of the relationship.
So if you want to have a happy marriage, wear your wedding ring all the time. Especially in public!
2. They never use divorce as a threat.
Happy couples are committed to their marriage. They take the “till death do us part” section of their wedding vows seriously.
This means that they never talk about divorce. They refuse to even mention the word.
They believe that broken marriages need to be fixed, not discarded.
3. They hold hands, even when they’re arguing.
In strong marriages, the husband and wife hold hands frequently. I’ve noticed that they even do this during disagreements. This is because they see marriage as a team sport, where they’re on the same team as their partner.
They don’t focus on winning the argument. Instead, they focus on creating a win-win solution.
4. They don’t interrupt their spouse.
When their spouse is speaking, they give him or her their full attention. They put away the newspaper, phone or computer, and really listen to their spouse.
5. They don’t make important decisions without consulting their spouse.
This applies to all areas of life, especially finances. Finances are a huge source of tension in many marriages, but happy couples navigate this minefield skilfully.
They understand how important it is to reach a consensus before making a final decision.
6. They ask for their spouse’s opinion.
Even when it comes to issues that don’t directly affect their spouse, they ask for his or her opinion. This relates to business and personal decisions – even things like what kind of haircut to get.
7. They never talk down to their spouse.
They appreciate each other’s strengths, and don’t view themselves as superior to their spouse.
In contrast, unhappy couples make harsh comments like…
- “You’re never around anyway.”
- “You’re always spoiling the kids.”
- “Why can’t you do anything right?”
- “I’m correct. Why don’t you just listen to me?”
I’ve witnessed these conversations firsthand.
If you want to build a strong marriage, resist the temptation to talk down to your spouse, no matter how frustrated you feel.
8. They don’t get defensive.
When their spouse points out an area of weakness, they don’t overreact. They respond with humility, and try to see things from their spouse’s perspective.
Of course, this is easier said than done. But happy couples make a habit of never becoming defensive or hostile.
9. They share their feelings with their spouse.
They don’t blame their spouse. Neither do they lash out at him or her. Instead, they share how their spouse’s actions made them feel.
This approach is effective, because their spouse doesn’t feel as if he or she is being attacked. This paves the way for them to resolve the situation peacefully.
10. They give their spouse the benefit of the doubt.
When their spouse does something that seems inconsiderate or selfish, they don’t jump to conclusions. They don’t presume that their spouse is a terrible person.
They remain calm. They ask thoughtful questions to find out what their spouse’s rationale was for behaving that way.
11. They compliment each other.
I’ve heard happy couples compliment each other on their…
- Wise choices
- Parenting ability
- Work ethic
- Fashion sense
Who doesn’t enjoy a good compliment, right?
Be intentional about complimenting your spouse daily. I guarantee you’ll soon have a happier spouse and a happier marriage.
12. They focus on what their spouse did right, not on what he or she did wrong.
Happy couples focus on the positive. They don’t ignore the negative, but they’re always on a lookout for things to admire and appreciate about their spouse.
13. They prioritise their marriage over their children.
They love their children dearly, but they make it clear that the universe doesn’t revolve around their children.
Happy couples understand that their marriage is the centre of the family, so they prioritise their spouse’s needs over their children’s.
This adds safety and stability to the home environment. Furthermore, it aids their children’s emotional and mental development.
14. They use “we” more than “I”.
Happy couples do this because they believe that marriage is a union, where “two become one”.
To them, this isn’t just a clichéd saying. It’s a principle that affects the way they think, act and speak.
15. They’re polite to each other.
Some people think you should become so familiar with your spouse that you don’t have to be polite.
I’ve observed that the majority of happy couples are surprisingly polite to each other. They say “please”, “thank you”, and “Can I get you a drink?”. They treat their spouse with warmth and respect.
I’ve no doubt that this contributes to their healthy marriage.
The bottom line
Healthy marriages are built on trust, commitment, sacrifice, patience and perseverance.
But these ideals are expressed in simple, everyday acts.
In this article, I’ve listed 15 of these things you can do. I hope you’ll start putting them into practice right away, one at a time.
I’m confident that as you do this, your marriage will become stronger and happier.
(A note to my wife: I promise to work on these things too, dear!)
Daniel Wong is a learning and teen expert, and is also the bestselling author of “The Happy Student: 5 Steps to Academic Fulfillment and Success”.