There is no cheat sheet when it comes to a happy marriage… but a few tips can’t hurt.
We’ve gathered together some titbits of tried and tested advice to help you start your married life on the right foot. No one’s perfect and everyone makes mistakes, but being a mindful and active participant in your marriage may help things from potentially turning sour down the line…
Don’t pretend to like something you don’t.
It’s easy to agree with everything your partner says when you start dating, but trust us, that will come back to haunt you. For example, pretending to love football in the early stages can lead to a lifetime of watching matches and silently resenting your partner for it when you said you liked it in the first place! Just be honest from the start and save yourself the hassle.
Avoid cliched Valentine’s Day antics.
If you want to celebrate your love on the Day of Love itself, don’t go for the cliches. After a while roses, fancy restaurant bookings and teddy bears can get a little bit tired and something more personal can be appreciated. Its the little things with a bit of thought that can mean the most and strengthen the bond between two people.
Don’t begrudge someone their career.
Ambition isn’t something to hold over someone’s head. If your partner is intent on climbing the career ladder then support them however you can. It’s easy to resent the time they spend at work away from you, but respecting that need for success will be appreciated in the long run.
Get a joint back account… but have your own as well.
Finances contribute to a staggering amount of arguments between couples and make each party vulnerable. We advise newly-married pairs to keep a joint account for mutual expenses like groceries and bills, but also personal accounts for salaries, spending money, etc. That way no one ever has to justify those new shoes they just couldn’t live without!
Don’t abuse ‘I Love You’.
Not all couples may agree with this one, but by over-using the term ‘I love you’ you are at risk of diluting its meaning. Constantly repeating something causes people not to treat it with the same importance and at the end of the day- what’s more important than love?
Definitely easier said than done, but being patient with your partner prevents them from getting irritated and picking an argument. That doesn’t mean to say you shouldn’t get angry if you’ve asked your hubby to paint the house six times and he still hasn’t done it… but maybe if he’s five minutes late to pick you up somewhere, let him off with it. Which leads us to…
Pick your battles.
Learning this particular skill comes with time. More often than not silly little arguments can be avoided if one party doesn’t pick on something small and remembers its insignificance in the grand scheme of things. If you know you can handle letting it blow over, then let it.
Try not to call your partner names.
Referring to your partner by an insulting name rather than a generic phrase during an argument is guaranteed to rile him/her up significantly more. If you must fight, don’t make it too personal because some times things can’t be unsaid.
Don’t marry someone you want to change.
You’ve heard it countless times before and some people still don’t listen… people will never change. Entering into a serious relationship with someone who you are intent on changing will lead to heartache in the long run. Its hard to cut your losses sometimes but accepting the things we cannot change is a big step in leading a happy life. Find someone who love for they are and embrace an easy happiness instead.
Share feelings instead of thoughts.
Often the difference between explaining what you are feeling instead of what you are thinking is what can turn an argument from emotional to bitter. If you are sad share this information instead of basking in the anger of some wrong-doing. Feelings tend to appeal to the emotional side of people and can save an unnecessary feud.
Be upfront about what you want in life.
If you are one of the lucky people who knows what you want in life, don’t keep that information to yourself. Discussing serious issues such as if you want kids, whether you plan to devote your life to your career, or if you want to move to another country, saves an awkward conversation down the line.
Don’t let kids rule your life.
Many people report that it isn’t marriage that changes a relationship, its having children. Make an active effort not to let having kids strain the bond you and your partner have. Continue to make time for each other, respect opinions and remember why you got married in the first place. Children should enhance a relationship, not break it.
Be mindful that love evolves over time.
You may not feel the primal love you felt for your partner when you first met anymore, but don’t mistake that for a lack of love. Love changes over time and deepens into trust and comfort. The ‘honeymoon’ phase is designed to change and couples should learn to embrace this shift and expect it.
Leave the past in the past.
If you’ve had an argument, gotten over it and agreed to move on from it then MOVE ON. Don’t bring it back up the next time you have a big fight or it will only worsen the situation. The past is the past for a reason and continually looking back at past indiscretions, regardless of what they are, prevents any forward-thinking.
Accept you will have different interests.
You may love long-distance running and he may love cricket, but that doesn’t mean you have to love them together. Forcing your partner to be interested in your interests can end up pushing them further into their own hobbies. Show a casual interest in the extra-curricular activities of your spouse but don’t feel you have to ‘get involved’
Compromise, compromise, compromise.
Give a little, then take a little and expect your partner to do so as well. Sometimes a little personal sacrifice for your significant other’s happiness can make all the difference, plus when it comes time to repay the favour they will be more inclined to do so.
See the humour in the world, and in your relationship.
Stop taking everything so seriously and learn to laugh a little. It really can be the best medicine for a relationship that has hit a wall. If you struggle to laugh in everyday life, go places and do things that promote a sillier attitude- like catching a comedy sketch, seeing a funny film or doing something active like go-karting or rock-climbing. Experience something fun and laughter may just start to come naturally.
Split the last biscuit 50/50.
If you’ve come to end of the packet and there’s one biscuit left- split it fairly down the line. Marriage is made up of two equal halves in every sense of the phrase.