Almost everyone agrees that the easiest part of a marriage is getting your partner to agree to it. The hard part begins after the honeymoon and when the responsibilities of running a home and later a family take over. Yet despite many trying situations, it is indeed possible to have a largely happy marriage and here are a few ways that you can go about it.
- Say something nice – everyday
Couples complain that their spouses begin to take them for granted as soon as the first year is through, and sometimes even before. Since the excitement of the courtship and wedding is no longer there, it is easy to stop seeing your spouse as desirable and moreso as someone who has to be won over. But once this becomes a habit, it quickly leads to feelings of disillusionment and neglect. So have something nice to say to your partner everyday – it could be a compliment on her hairstyle or a sexy remark about his boxers. As long as you are showing genuine appreciation for each other, you both will feel fulfilled in marriage.
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- Make time for love
It is a fallacy to imagine that love should happen on its own. Sometimes love needs a bit of help in the form of advance planning – especially when two people are struggling to juggle a home, career and kids. So make it a point to have some “us” time with your spouse on a regular basis – it could mean going out on a ‘date’ once a week or even something as simple as taking a walk in the neighborhood park after dinner. If you have very young kids, try to get hold of a good babysitter once a week or fortnight while you both go out for a movie or dinner. Instead of worrying about the expenses, try to see it as an investment into your marriage.
- Communicate with each other
Many couples who have been married for a while may someday realize that they hardly ever talk to each other anymore. A dangerous fall-out of such a situation may be that both partners begin to drift away from each other, eventually leading to the end of their marriage. The secret to effective communication with your spouse is an equable exchange of thoughts and feelings and thus it means much more than airing grievances or having difficult discussions about money. Simple things such as asking your spouse how was his/her day or showing interest in his/her plans will go a long way in opening the channels of communication. Write notes if you are uncomfortable verbalizing your thoughts and make use of non-verbal cues like hugs, eye-contact or sending flowers to let your partner know how much you love him/her.
- Stop keeping scores
It is hard to have a happy marriage if you continue to measure your spouse’s worth as against what they have and have not done for you. This is not to say that you should keep giving more to the marriage as compared to your spouse but only that a marital relationship is not an algebraic equation where both sides need to balance each other out perfectly. Some days you give a little more and on others, so does your spouse. But if you really wish your relationship to be like the first time, your love has to be unconditional which is hard if you keep making entries on the marital scorecard all the time.
- Don’t forget to have fun
Granted that it takes time and effort to make relationships work, but that does not mean you have to take it extra seriously. Set aside some time when you can simply have fun and not get bogged down by meanings and implications of each other’s words or actions. Try to remember all that you enjoyed about each other during the heady days of your early love and see if you can bring back those aspects into your life. If it was your carefree and social nature which first attracted your spouse to you, make an attempt to enjoy life more so that once again you are fun to be around. Take a day out at a circus or amusement park where you both can go back to being carefree children and let your hair down.
- Romance each other
Even though you and your partner are now married, don’t let that be an excuse to let yourself go physically. A happy marriage is one where the spouses see each other as lovers and simply someone you share an apartment or the kids with. Begin by making an effort to look attractive or at least well-groomed. Then go on to play the flirting game using your eyes, smile and various gestures like the casual brush of your hand against his thighs or her waist. Do something special for your partner like surprising your wife with a candlelight dinner at home or getting tickets for a game playing his favorite football team. In other words, court your spouse like you did in the past and you will find the embers of love always glowing in your marriage.
- Enhance your own personality
Even though in a marriage you need to think and plan like a couple, it does not mean that you have to stifle your individuality. Rather than depending all the time upon your spouse for company, make plans with your own friends, every now and then. Take up a course or pick a hobby which will expand your mental horizons. Your spouse will not only be relieved to have some personal space and time but eventually will be attracted to your new personality. And a marriage which has equal, self-fulfilled individuals as partners is likelier to be happier than one where one or both are needy and over-dependent.
- Fight fair
No matter how compatible two individuals might be, no marriage is without its share of fights. However the secret to a healthy “letting off some steam” is to fight in a fair and non-abusive manner. For instance stay away from sentences starting with a capital ‘You’, for instance, “YOU do not listen to me anymore”. Rather give voice to your perception like, “I would feel much more loved if we could just talk to each other now and then”. Again avoid generalizing like “You ALWAYS avoid me when I want to talk” or “You NEVER want to listen to what I have to say”. Words like these will only make your spouse defensive and will not get the conversation anywhere. Also when involved in an argument, focus on the here and now. While your grievances may be building up over time, it is best to avoid dragging up the past. The intention is to communicate present thoughts and feelings with your partner and not to begin a blame game which goes back to the time you met.
- Take a break
Once couples settle into a routine, it becomes increasingly difficult to get out of the rut. Juggling commitments at work, home and as parents, spouses may find it impossible to spare the time and energy to go back to being a romantic two-some. Here the only thing to do is to take a break. If you are lucky enough to have someone to look after the kids, try to take off for a few days for a quiet beach or a skiing resort. If not, even a weekend away from work and home responsibilities may work wonders for your romantic life. The whole point is to let other commitments take the backseat for a while and bond with each other so that your marriage remains strong and happy.
- Don’t forget the basics When you were first dating each other, remember how you instinctively treated your partner with kindness, consideration and respect. It was only with time that you let angry words and negative gestures creep into your marital life. If you can accord a basic courtesy and kindness to a complete stranger, why not to your spouse? So, ensure that all these aspects never leave your relationship and you will surely enjoy a happy marriage in the long run.