If you want to know how to have a happy marriage relationship, you’ve come to the right place.
In our marriages we tend to concentrate too much on the negative, the things that lead to bad feelings towards our spouse and ourselves and, at the same time, neglect to do things that make us, our spouse and, ultimately, our marriage happy.
That’s why I decided to conduct a group interview with 58 of the world’s most trusted life and marriage coaches and asked them one question:
What are your top 3 practical tips for a happier marriage?
Let me tell you, the insights I received from these 58 established marriage coaches were nothing short of amazing.
This is a long post of awesome content. Make sure to bookmark it NOW by pressing Ctrl + D for future reading.
I had a lot of fun putting this interview together and would like to thank everyone who got involved!
Be sure to visit the experts’ sites to learn how they can help you create a healthy and successful marriage with your spouse.
So without further ado, lets start by finding out what the experts think are the best ways to make your marriage happier:
#1 Stop the busyness. You have to be present to love your partner.
#2 Stay intimate.
#3 Praise your spouse every day and show appreciation.
#4 Make personal commitments every day to engage in maintaining a happy marriage
#5 Make time for REALLY connecting with your spouse.
#6 Actively look for situations in which you can laugh together.
#7 Dating is not just for singles. Go on dates, often!
#8 Disappointments, fights and frustration are inevitable. Turn that to your advantage and grow together.
#9 Take responsibility for your own happiness and personal fulfillment. You cannot make someone else happy when you’re unhappy!
#10 Touch, kiss, hug, cuddle often.
Want to know the science behind these top 10 tips? Read my 8 Scientific Ways To Improve Your Marriage
These are just the tip of the iceberg.
If you want to jump straight to the response from your favorite marriage coach you can do so here or just grab a cup of coffee, sit back and start scrolling!
NOTE: Responses are listed in the order they were received in:
Sheila Gregoire| ToLoveHonorAndVacuumHere are my 3 things:
Want a happy marriage life?
First, think about GOOD things, not things that tick you off. Deliberately scan for things to praise your husband for–it makes you look for these things and notice them–and then thank him for those things! The things that we talk about will also be the things we think about.
Second, go to bed at the same time. Seriously. Too many couples spend their nights on different screens. Of course if shift work comes into play this may not always be practical, but if you want time to connect, cuddle, and make love, switch off those screens and go to bed. Adults need bedtimes too!
And third, make “yes” your default about sex, not “no”. When evening comes around, women especially start asking themselves, “am I in the mood tonight?” As soon as you do that, you’ll think of all the reasons it’s a bad idea. But if you assume, “tonight I’ll make love UNLESS there’s some really big reason not to”, you’ll find you connect far more frequently. And libido is a use-it-or-lose-it phenomenon, especially for women. The more we make love, the more we want to. And the more we let that bonding hormone make us feel close!
Sheila Wray Gregoire is the author of 8 books, including The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex and 31 Days to Great Sex. She blogs everyday at To Love, Honor and Vacuum. Follow Sheila on Twitter @sheilagregoire
Corey Allan| SimpleMarriageKeep things simple. Most things that we differ about in marriage aren’t all that complicated – keep it simple.
Keep a proper perspective. The differences between you and your spouse are most often just that, differences. If you can take the concept of right or wrong out of the equation you can then view things between you better – and likely find better solutions.
Live passionately. Most marriages that are boring involve people who are bored. Create a great cake of life and let your relationship be the icing – not the other way around. Follow Corey on Twitter @simplemarriage
Ronit Baras| BeHappyInLifeThanks for asking me to write 3 practical tips for happier marriage.
I have seen many couples who are in pain in the relationship. They usually come for help because they still love each other and want it to work. The focus of my work is helping each of them increase their emotional intelligence, which impacts the relationship straight away.
1. Count your blessings! Every day, write down 3 good things that happened to you in your relationship. This activity helps change the focus from what is not working in marriage to what is working and within three weeks, you will feel the difference. Here are some tips to make this activity extremely successful:
- Write it down, don’t just think it.
- Make sure both couple are making an effort to do the activity, the impact will be greater.
- Stick to it for at least 21 days in a row. If you missed a day, start counting another 21 days.
2. Share your happy list! Write 100 things that make you happy and share it with each other. It is so easy to make each other happy by choosing ideas from a list. Take into consideration that it is your own responsibility to be happy; your partner only helps you increase your happiness level.
3. Watch your but! When in conflict, never use the word “But”. But is the conflict word and only throws people into the primitive brain when the only thing they can do is fight or flight. In any relationship and especially in marriage, this word is trouble. Follow Ronit on Twitter @ronitbaras
Willam Harly| MarriageBuildersThere are three ways to make a marriage happy, and you must hit all three goals if you want your marriage to be happy. if you miss even one of them, it will be unhappy.
The first is that you must become expert in meeting each other’s most important emotional needs. We help couples identify what they are (Emotional Needs Questionnaire), and then help train them to become experts.
The second is that you must not be the cause of each other’s unhappiness. We help couples identify the ways that they are making each other unhappy (Love Busters Questionnaire), and then train them to avoid them.
The third is that they must make their decisions with each other’s interests in mind. My latest book, He Wins, She Wins, and it’s accompanying workbook offers a 12-week training program to help couples learn to make mutually advantageous choices in life.
When couples achieve these three goals, they have happy relationships. Couples who tried our plan have turned their miserable marriages into long-lasting happy marriages. We offer the Emotional Needs Questionnaire and Love Busters Questionnaire free of charge in the questionnaires section of my website.
Katie Brown| MarriageConfessions
Here are my tips for a happy marriage:
1. Expect change. From yourself, from your spouse, from your relationship. And I don’t necessarily believe you have to change TOGETHER, either. Some of the most positive changes in our marriage have come from changes Chris and I have made independent of each other. Foster change and growth in your marriage, and you’ll never be bored.
2. Touch often. Fun touching is, well… fun. But it’s the little touching that keeps a marriage going year after year. Chris and I always kiss when we see each other. We hold hands whenever we can. We sit on the couch so that our shoulders are touching. Our feet are always intwined when we sleep. I’m not a naturally touchy person, but I’ve learned over the years that these small intimacies in the middle of our daily routines make a big impact on how connected we are as a couple.
3. Forgive, forgive, forgive! And then don’t hold a grudge. In the infamous words that permeate my four-year-old’s existence right now, “LET IT GOOOOOOOO!” Follow Katie on Twitter @marriageconfess
Rick Fitzgibbons| MaritalHealing
Thirty-nine years of clinical experience with several thousand couples has convinced me that fulfilling, happy marriages are possible. Successful marriages depend on couples making personal, daily commitments to engage in the hard work of maintaining a healthy personality.
The good news is that the major personality conflicts in marital self-giving of excessive anger, selfishness, controlling behaviors can be identified and resolved. Anger is mastered through growth in forgiveness; selfishness through growth in generosity and self-denial and controlling behaviors through growth in respect.
In this process, marital love that had grown cold can be surprisingly and delightfully renewed and strengthened. Most spouses do not deliberately set out to hurt the person whom they have vowed to honor and love all the days of their life. Instead, they inflict painful wounds because of the unconscious conflicts of anger, selfishness and controlling behaviors.
Rick Fitzgibbons, co-authored Forgiveness Therapy: An Empirical Guide for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope, American Psychological Association, 2015. Follow Rick on Youtube
Duana C. Welch| LoveFactually
Here are my top 3 practical tips for a happier marriage:
It’s often been said that to have a good marriage, you’ve first got to find the right person, and then you’ve got to be the right person. And over 40 years of excellent research shows that being the right person involves three practical steps most anyone can learn.
First off, it’s vital to be kind. Kindness is more than the absence of meanness; it’s the presence of goodwill. This means nurturing the belief that your partner has your best interest at heart, cutting them slack even when they disappoint you. For instance, if your mate promised to take out the trash but didn’t, a kind response would be assuming that they ran out of time before leaving for work–rather than the miserable-marriage thoughts that maintain distress (“She doesn’t respect me at all; he doesn’t love me; my mate’s a jerk…). Kindness also means adding positives to your relationship~lots of them. Mathematically, it takes 5 positives to make up for even 1 negative in a marriage; it’s like a bank account where if you put in $5, taking out $1 leaves you flat broke. Genuine happiness involves more than that, though; to be really happy, it takes a whopping 20 “I love you”s, “You have a great butt”s, and kisses in the kitchen to make up for every “What, you forgot again?!”
Second, it’s important to be respectful. In concrete terms, this meanslistening fully to your mate’s perspective even when you disagree, and then disagreeing agreeably–complaining rather than criticizing. Instead of well-researched unhappy couple behaviors like eye rolling, leaving the room physically or emotionally, interrupting to disagree, or starting statements with an accusatory “You always” or “You never,” respectful mates learn to tune in and find the parts of their beloved’s statements that they can agree with. They are careful rather than careless with their words. Interestingly, this doesn’t mean ignoring what bothers you; happy couples bring up problems sooner and more often than unhappy couples do. But happy couples do it respectfully: “I felt so tired when I got home, and then when I saw the trash hadn’t been taken out, I just felt overwhelmed. You may have been too busy to get to it this morning, too, but it would mean a lot to me if you could take it out now.” Research shows that arguments *always* (yes, 100% of the time) end on the note they began on, and that criticism *always* (yes, 100% of the time) makes marriages worse. So this gentle and respectful complaint ensures that this mate will either get what they want, or at least avoid making it worse.
Finally, it’s paramount to be friendly. Happy couples are one another’s best friend, and research proves that most of us can learn the specific behaviors this involves:
– Taking at least 5 minutes a day to really listen to one another about how the day has gone. Happy couples learn their mate like a map they could read blindfolded, rather than assuming they know each other already and can afford to tune out.
– Turning towards rather than away from our mate when they want our attention. Happy couples act as if their mantra is “small things often”; when their mate says, “Hey, did you see this?” they ask about it rather than continuing to bury their heads in work or Facebook! When their mate puckers up for a smooch, they kiss them back instead of avoiding the intimacy.
And thank goodness, happy couples actually screw up on everything some of the time. Perfection is too high a standard for any of us to reach. But progress is doable; science on happy and unhappy couples proves it time and time again.
Here’s to a happier union for all of us! Follow Duana on Twitter@duanawelch
James Russell Lingerfelt| JamesRussell1. Make the conscious decision every morning to place your spouse’s desires and needs above your own. When this is reciprocated, the marriage will do well.
2. Have the courage to give and serve... with a balance of humility to receive. If you give and give and never allow yourself to receive, you’ll get burned out and feel used in the relationship.
3. Be kind. Treat him or her how you want to be treated. Over time, your spouse will become more and more conscious of your kindness. How your spouse chooses to respond to your kindness is his or her decision, but I very rarely hear of kindness backfiring.
When spouses implement these three principles, I’ve seen happy marriages to be the result. Follow James on Twitter @jrlingerfelt
Steve Cooper| HitchedMagI have a lot of practical ideas for a happier marriage, but here are three that I think are easy to implement.
First, create a budget for your marriage. This can be used to go on dates, share in new experiences, try new food, buy a new game, or any number of things. Make this a regular part of your budget, along with your water bill, electricity bill and other necessities. It’s not just about having money to spend on your relationship, but it forces you to think about your marriage regularly and to prioritize it along with your other regular responsibilities. Investing in your marriage this way also helps in maintaining fun and positive connotations when reflecting on your union—it helps you see a future together.
Second, touch each other every day. There is piles of research about the benefit of touch and the good bonding chemicals, such as oxytocin, that are released through touch. This act can be as simple as holding hands or cuddling on the couch to more intimate interaction. Regular touch is one of the things that makes marriage a special relationship.
Third, brag about your spouse—in public. If you want to put a smile on anyone’s face, say something nice about them. When it comes to your spouse, saying nice things about them in front of other people demonstrates your pride and respect for your husband or wife. One of the regular contributors to Hitched likes to say, “what you focus on grows.” In this case, when you brag about your spouse and how amazing they are, those good feelings will grow. They will also want to reciprocate. It’s a simple gesture you can execute the next time you’re in a group of friends. Smiles and a happier marriage are guaranteed. Follow Steve on Twitter@hitchedmedia
George and Yvonne Levy| ILoveBeingHappilyMarried
3 practical tips for a happier marriage:
1. Respect each other’s private time
Just because the two of you are married and in love does not mean you must share each second of free time you have with each other. Give each other some “personal space”. Maybe you like to watch a TV show that your spouse doesn’t like, or your spouse enjoys practicing an activity that you are not interested in. Allow yourselves to enjoy some time away from each other, doing something you each enjoy for yourselves. When you both get back together it will be more exciting to do so.
2. Make family time a priority
By this we mean spend reasonable time with each other’s respective families. You do not have to like every single member of your spouse’s family, but by no means does this justify you trying to isolate your significant other from the rest of his or her family. Always remember this: your spouse’s family knew your spouse way before you did. Respect that.
3. Do not avoid arguments at all costs: fight it out and clear it up!
If your spouse and you disagree, say so! And do so in the moment (or as soon as the time and place is appropriate enough for doing so). Nothing poisons a marriage faster than resentment accumulated over time just because you tried to avoid confrontation with your significant other. Every healthy marriage has its moments of bickering now and then, and that is a great way to avoid resentment and even to continue to discover new things about each other. And always remember: it is perfectly OK to “agree to disagree”… As long as you both acknowledge that and don’t penalize each other for doing so. Follow George and Yvonne on Twitter@ilbhm
Penelope Guzman| Penelope’sOasisI actually have two practical tips that are always on my mind and that I always tell others, and I think if more married folks did even just these two simple things, they would be so much happier.
I would say:
1. Start each morning with a smile and warm greeting (kiss of course) and each time you reconnect during the day, smile and show your spouse you are happy to see him. We all want to be with someone we feel is excited to be with us, so show your spouse you look forward to seeing them and being with them (no matter what your mood).
2. Try to do one thing every single day to make your spouse happy they are married to you. It can be small (life gets busy) but even just making them a cup of coffee when they are overwhelmed and don’t have a single free moment to sit and make one is something they will appreciate. You are in a position to make their life easier and better in small ways that matter, and each is a deposit into a stronger marriage. Follow Penelope on Twitter @_Penelope
Dr. Bob Huizenga| SaveAMarriageForeverThe key to a happy marriage is to allow love to emerge. You do this by:
1. Knowing that the “love answers” are within you and not somewhere “out there,” as in, your spouse holds the key to your happiness.
2. Knowing and feeling deep within you that you are indeed lovable. Most of us believe we lack, are defective or inadequate and just plain try to hard to get others to love us.
3. Stop performing. You don’t have to be more sexy, romantic, charming, interesting, talkative, etc. You can be loved just because you are you.
Love becomes EASY once these three qualities are part of your life.
Getting there is the fascinating journey and becomes truly EASY (and possible!) when both agree that is what they want.
And, we all (MALE and female) at a deep level want the above, don’t we? Follow Dr. Huizenga @bob_huizenga
Jennifer Slingerland Ryan| IChooseChangeMy top three practical tips for a happy marriage are:
1. Make a list of your top five love needs; give to your spouse. It’s your job to help meet those love needs as much as you can throughout the week.
2. Spend at least one time per week REALLY connecting in conversation. Sit facing each other, look at each other, no distractions. Don’t be afraid to go deep and ask hard questions. (I usually provide questions for my couples who aren’t used to doing this.)
3. Listen with your full body. Pretend your spouse is a foreign country and you have to take in the culture, language, dress, and food as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
Follow Jennifer on Twitter @ichoosechange
Pamela S. King| StillDatingMySpouseMy three practical tips for a happier marriage are:
1. Self love: as you enter marriage, you become connected to someone else. It’s important that you are clear about who YOU are and are comfortable with YOU before you are able to truly be happy in a marriage again. Self love and acceptance is important if you truly want to benefit from the love and happiness marriage brings.
2. Serve your spouse: marriage challenges everyone’s level of selfishness. Marriage is built on the acts of service we give to our spouse. If both parties are serving and meeting the needs of their spouse, the marriage will be happier.
3. Regular date nights: dating your spouse isn’t an option it’s a necessity. Date nights offers the couple uninterrupted time to communicate and connect. Being consistent with a regular date schedule, allows the couple to focus on each other, work on their communication, be consistent in investing in spending quality time with their spouse which all lends itself to a happier marriage.
The common thread in my three tips points lead back to communication, commitment, consistency and connection. Happy and good marriages are not a figment of the overly romantics imagination but an achievable and doable situation that all marriages can have. Follow Pam on Twitter@datingmyspouse
Laura M. Brotherson| StrengtheningMarriageMy top three tips for making marriages thrive include activities that address the mind, body and spirit:
Date Night — Regular date nights are vital for maintaining mental and emotional intimacy and connection. This is a must for all couples!
Touch — Increasing non-sexual touch (affection), as well as sexual touch (lovemaking) in marriage creates a firm foundation from the passion and bonding that occurs through physical connection.
Couple Prayer — Because couples are also spiritual beings, connecting together with God through spiritual means like praying together as a couple helps them maintain a broader vision of themselves, their marriage relationship and their grander purposes. Follow Laura on Twitter@LauraBrotherson
Stan Dubin| MarriageSuccessHere are my three practical tips:
1. Because of our hectic daily lives, you may not be able to do this all of the time, but work on making this happen more and more often: When your partner is talking to you, give him/her your FULL attention. When you are talking to your partner, ensure that YOU put your full attention on getting your communication delivered.
2. If you find yourselves upset with each other, step back for a moment and realize your partner is your PARTNER and not an opponent. And remember that MORE communication, not less communication, will clear up any upset or misunderstanding.
3) Openly admire something about your partner every day. Follow Stan on Twitter @standubin
Ben Stich| BenStichLaughing Together: marriage is serious stuff, especially when there are kids. Keeping laughing — it’s a great elixir for happiness!
Listening to Each Other: I mean really, truly listen. Or better yet, hearing. Hearing what your partner is saying. Hearing what your partner is feeling. And then making sure they know you “get it” (even if you don’t agree!).
Respecting Privacy: It’s healthy for each spouse to have friends, personal hobbies and activities, and time alone from time to time. A little space can go a long way to improving connectedness and intimacy, as backwards as that may seem. Follow Ben on Twitter @ben_stich
Athol Kay| MarriedManSexLife1. Getting married isn’t the finishing line, it’s the starting line.
There’s an easy trap that many people start falling into where slowly over time, they start putting less and less effort into consciously trying to attract their partner. If you fall apart on being attractive long enough, you may as well be actively trying to drive your partner into having an affair. One of the nice things about being married is that you aren’t having to jump through hoops trying to meet and date people, but courtship can never fully stop.
2. Conflict avoidance is going to create massive conflict.
One of the things I see over and over are people seeing a clearly evident problem in their relationship, and then not doing anything serious about addressing it. They soft pedal the issue, they tip toe around it, they are just too nice about it. Over time, the problem slowly but surely gets increasingly worse, until the point where what was a fairly small issue, is now a giant relationship breaking drama. You can’t Band-Aid a solution to your relationship over and over, without ending up with a huge tangled mess on your hands. If something is really a problem, you have to address it as such.
3. Marriage is always a sexual relationship.
It may be a good sexual relationship, or a bad sexual relationship, but it is always a sexual relationship. If the sex isn’t working, or is stopping, or is gone, that means there’s a serious problem somewhere and you need to find out exactly what it is. I don’t really buy the notion that you can have a good marriage, but a bad sex life. The primary purpose of being married is to have a vital sexual and emotional connection with someone, so if that’s not there, it’s just devolving into being a friendship with responsibilities.
It’s tempting to see that as a statement of you deserving sex, but it’s just as much a statement of expectation in yourself as well. If you’re your partners only outlet for sexual expression, you need to explore and expand everything you can for them sexually. What do you bring to the bedroom? Does your partner walk around sexually satisfied? If not, why not? Marriages with a good sexual bond rarely break, even in the worst of external circumstances. Sexual problem solving is working on the relationship. Follow Athol on Twitter @atholkay
Kim Bowen| EngageWithLoveTop 3 practical advice for happier marriages.
1. Speak your truth. Too many times a spouse just ‘goes along to get along’ but the long term effect of this on the relationship is very destructive. Keeping the peace can be very costly. Resentment builds and it will kill passion and feelings of being “in love”. When someone comes in my office and tells me they love their spouse but they aren’t in love with them, I know someone was very likely keeping the peace instead of talking about his/her disillusionment and/or unhappiness until they shut off emotionally and checked out. They key here is learn HOW to speak your truth so your spouse can hear it and know you mean business. Loud does not mean effective. If your spouse is ignoring you, learn how to be heard.
2. Know your bottom lines and learn how to set appropriate boundaries. We often get what we are willing to put up with. I just saw a client who lived with a verbally abusive husband for 20 years. She was so angry with him for not changing and with herself for staying so long. If she had set boundaries 20 years ago, she wouldn’t have been in this situation. Either her husband would have changed or she would have made other choices. Anything but staying and putting up with it. She would lash back at him but putting up with it angrily is STILL putting up with it. Unconditional love sounds great and romantic but it isn’t and shouldn’t be what keeps you stuck in a bad situation.I will choose to love my husband from another house if he becomes abusive.
3. Stop thinking of marriage counseling as a last ditch effort. You go to the dentist twice a year because you want to keep your teeth. Why in the world would you not put in at least the same effort for the most important relationship you will have. Find a counselor/coach you trust and check in with them periodically. I do this with my husband and it helps to keep the air clean and fresh in our marriage. It keeps small issues from becoming big problems. Follow Kim on Twitter @engagewithlove
Marcy Lytle| ThymeMagTop 3 practical tips for a happier marriage:
Go on lots of picnics. Picnics require a bit of planning and preparation and finding a place – the three P’s! And once you’re there, sit, relax, go for a walk, hold hands, talk, etc. – all of those things you don’t do when you’re home in the thick of everyday life.
Learn his love language. This isn’t the “Five Love Languages” from the book of the same title. I mean learn how he speaks to you in love naturally, not the way you demand that he speak to fulfill your needs. If he’s a handyman sort of guy and fixes the running toilet for you, consider that an act of love just as much as if he brings home a vase of fresh flowers – and give him a big hug and kiss for it!
Ask him, Seek him, and Knock him out with thanks. I’ve had too many friends that “assumed” their husbands wouldn’t go with them to do that, or this. They start seeking friendships elsewhere. And then they begin to criticize everything about him. But I’ve seen that if we speak up and ask, seek the best in him and for him, he’ll often say yes. And if we thank him and love him for who he is, he’ll go with us and be with us again and again…and it will be so fun! Follow Marcy on Twitter@ABundleofTHYME
Jay Dee| SexWithinMarriage1. Pray earnestly together, at least daily, holding nothing back. Be vulnerable and intimate. Praying openly with each other promotes intimacy and bonding. It encourages humility and your spouse will know what you are struggling with, and what you are helpful for and know better how to serve you. Pray together about your hopes, your fears, your wins and your struggles. This has the added benefit of improving your relationship with God. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” – Ecc 4:12
2. Learn to die to self and live for Christ. This may not sound like a marriage tip, because it has implications in all aspects of your life, but I think one of the largest struggles in marriage is the dynamic of spouses warring against each other. Even working as a team is difficult to learn, and still not ideal. So, each should learn to die to self and learn to live for Christ, that way they are on the same team…but not their own team, God’s team. This is hard to do, it takes constant vigilance, you have to learn about yourself, what makes you tick, what your triggers are that causes self to rise up in you. In every situation, stop, suppress the urge to act on “what I want” and instead try to discern “what does God want of me in this situation”. As you grow closer to God, you’ll be amazed how often they overlap, because your character will change to want to serve more, and you’ll also be surprised how often what God wants you to do is good for you, and for your marriage. Actually, He always wants that. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
3. Read your Bible, daily. It’s the best book on the market for marriage, as well as other topics. Read it, study it, know it, live it. It’s counsel on marriage is astounding, from headship and submission, to communication, to dealing with anger, finances, parenting, sex, the list just keeps going. It is not just a book to teach you about salvation, frankly, that part is fairly simple: Worship God, you’re a sinner, Jesus died to save you from your sins, believe, accept, and be baptized. That’s the salvation message in a nutshell. The rest of scripture, the vast majority, is to teach you how to live in this life, to how us how to have joy, peace, contentment here on Earth, including in our marriages. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
I would have liked to give something simpler, but I have no way to distill them down to simple tips. They don’t work as a checklist. It’s all about complete surrender, vulnerability and a better relationship with God. Almost guaranteed your relationship will improve, if you do that, but even if it doesn’t, then you will have a stronger relationship with God to fall back on, and you can learn to be content, regardless of the state of your marriage. Then, you can work on your marriage from a place of stability, using God’s power, not your own. Follow Jay on Twitter @SexInMarriage
Susan Heitler| PowerOfTwoMarriage3 Practical Tips for Making a Marriage Happier
1. Cut the negatives and increase the positives. Aim for zero criticism, blame, irritated voices and especially contempt. Express appreciation, gratitude, and affection at least 3 times a day. Arrange to spend enjoyable activities together at least once a week, and especially aim to be together at meals and bedtimes.
2. Learn to do the win-win waltz, that is, to make decisions and resolve ‘My way,’ ‘No, My way ‘conflicts with a process that’s responsive to the concerns of both of you.
3. Get enough sleep. Bickering goes up as sleep goes down. Follow Susan on Twitter @po2marriage
Matthew| Adventure Some3 practical tips for a happier marriage:
1. Learn your and your spouse’s love language so that you best know how to express your love to each other.
2. Schedule time together. It’s so easy for your days to slip away. Make and schedule to spend together as a couple. This can range from daily chats to weekend escapes, and everything in-between.
3. Have shared goals that you work toward together. The process of dreaming about, discussing, planning, and working toward goals is invaluable. You learn more about each other, how you think and react and plan. You will also learn about their goals and interests, while ensuring that your lives are moving forward together. Follow Matthew on Twitter@frenchholt
Markus and Ashley Kusi| Our Peaceful MarriageThe three practical tips we would give in order to have a happier marriage would be:
1. Not expecting your spouse to make you happy and complete you, rather, your spouse is there to compliment your strengths and weakness’. Marriage only works if both spouse’s realize they are a team. Having the same life goals that you both work towards and having your best friend to help pick up the slack when you need them to. Knowing your spouse is someone you can always rely on.
2. Always trying to learn more about each other. Each spouse has to feel loved and respected. We each feel love and connection very differently and it may change throughout our lives. Knowing your spouse’s love language and how they feel respected, then making sure you meet each other’s needs. In addition to supporting each other, is key to having a happy marriage.
3. Being honest and having the freedom to be completely open with each other because you know you will support each other no matter what comes your way. Being able to share the good and bad that life brings your way. Being able to enjoy laughing together and having fun in the day to day activities, as well as being able to connect in a more intimate way that you don’t get to do with anyone else with sexual intimacy. Follow Markus and Ashley on Facebook OurPiecefulMarriage
Tom and Debi Walter| TheRomanticVineyardTop 3 Practical Tips For A Happier Marriage
Marriage is a lifelong commitment that is unlike any other relationship on the earth. It’s easy to decide to get married. It’s not as easy to live happily ever after.
Happiness is to marriage, what laughter is to children. It lifts your spirit and allows you to enjoy every moment you have together. Of course to be happy takes effort on the part of both partners.
Here is our short list of the top three ways to have a happier marriage:
1. Cultivate Your Friendship – Once you’ve said I Do, it’s important to remember you were friends before you were lovers. Don’t allow others to fill this spot in your heart. Make your spouse your highest priority like you would a best friend. Take an interest in what they enjoy doing. Start a new hobby together. Read the same book at the same time so you can discuss what you’re learning. All of these are simple and practical ways to keep your friendship growing as well as your love.
2. Cultivate Your Faith – No one person can make you completely happy all the time. But as you pursue your relationship with God and allow Him to be your all in all, then your spouse won’t feel the pressure to meet your every need, an impossible task. As you discover how much Christ loves you, it will allow you to experience a depth of happiness that finds it’s origin in Heaven, not here on earth.
3. Cultivate Your Romance – Romantic love doesn’t forego your friendship, it enhances it. Do the things you enjoyed doing when you first met. Just because you share the same address doesn’t mean you can’t find time to date each other. Dates can be planned by the husband and/or the wife for different occasions, or for no occasion at all. The important thing is to make time for each other to just sit and talk. To learn new things about each other and to ask good questions. This is why we’ve developed an iPhone app with date night questions to help you know what to ask that have nothing to do with children or work.
We’ve concluded that to have the happiest of marriages it takes a commitment to be intentional in cultivating intimacy in your relationship. This includes Spiritual Intimacy, Intellectual Intimacy, Emotional Intimacy and Physical Intimacy. Do what you can to make your spouse smile everyday without regard for your own happiness, and you’ll most likely discover you’re a happier spouse as well. Follow Tom and Debi on Facebook TheRomanticVineyard
Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo|OneExtraordinaryMarriageIf you want an extraordinary marriage, there are 3 things that you need to do starting today.
1.Be Intentional: So many people live their lives and their marriages just reacting to the day instead of casting a vision and being intentional about how they spend their time. Hollywood would have each of you believe that relationships “just happen” and you don’t need to be work on them, that they should be wonderful and happy. The reality is that if you want to have happiness in your marriage you need to be intentional about creating an environment where that can happen.
2.Stop the Busyness: Busyness has become a badge of honor in our society. The more that you are doing the “better” you are. Except for the fact that you can get so busy doing for others that you don’t have the time or energy to give to your spouse. If you find that you are putting your spouse at the bottom of your to-do list, it’s time to practice one of the easiest words in our language and the one that you’ve been giving to your spouse…starting saying no to the others so that you can say yes to your spouse.
3.Take Action: You’ve been reading these responses and this probably isn’t the first article that you have read about what you can do to make your marriage happier, better, more fulfilling etc. The thing is that until you take action it’s all just words. You have to get involved in the process, you have to do something to make your marriage tomorrow different than it is right now. This applies to every area of your marriage. Follow Tony and Alisa on Twitter @tonymdilorenzo
Susan Walsh| HookingUpSmartI’ve been happily married for over 30 years. Here are the everyday behaviors that I credit with having a truly rewarding and enjoyable partnership:
1. Demonstrate love and appreciation every day.
Frequently expressing love and gratitude for your partner creates a continuous cycle of positive feelings. Specific feedback is always good, but don’t hesitate to say “I feel so lucky to have you” or “You are such a wonderful dad.”
Heightened awareness of this simple feedback loop is the best preventive maintenance a couple can practice.
2. Respect your partner as a human being.
Sarcasm and contempt destroy goodwill. Never direct them at your spouse. Never intentionally embarrass or humiliate them in front of others.
Being late regularly, failing to follow through on commitments, or not pitching in to do your share are all examples of treating your partner poorly.
Treat your spouse as well or better than you treat the other people in your life.
3. Laugh it off.
I frequently diffuse tension or end arguments by saying something funny – at my own expense. Most arguments are not worth having, but they escalate because neither party will back down. Try touching your partner and laughing during a tense moment – and watch reconciliation happen instantaneously. Follow Susan on Twitter @SusanAWalsh
Tim Chan| TimAndOliveHere’s our 3 practical tips for a happy marriage:
1. Take time every day to connect. Some seasons of life are extremely busy. We currently have two young kids and are tired almost all the time. It’s easy to forget to check in on each other and see how the other person is doing. It’s something that needs to be prioritized.
2. Learn to fight fairly. There’s going to be disagreements in a marriage, and it’s important to learn how to have a fair fight and resolve those differences.
3. Have fun together. In a marriage, things can get to be routine very easily and all about getting things done. Take time to think about things you can do together to have fun and keep things light. Follow Tim on Twitter @timtchan
Randy Hamm| TheMarriageMentorHere are my three practical tips for a happier marriage.
1. Set aside these specific times for you as a couple: 1) play time (or date night-every couple of weeks), 2) marriage time (intentional conversations about your relationship – weekly, but can be short), and 3) business time (short weekly conversation about schedules, etc – weekly and as short as possible). This sets you up for staying connected and on track with each other instead of feeling disconnected and behind.
2. Remember that one gift of marriage is to challenge you to be a better person. Let it point out how you can love better and rise to the challenge. This is why conflict, disappointment and frustrations are inevitable. Its part of the process.
3. Offering understanding in the midst of a conflict means everything. Don’t defend, don’t acquiesce, seek to understand, offering words to clarify you do, and then an honest discussion can happen later. Follow Randy on Twitter @RandyHamm72
Cija Black| ModernLoveGuideWhat are your top 3 practical tips for a happier marriage?
1. Really be present and truly listen to each other when you communicate. Don’t be busy thinking of your response, get lost in your side of things or have your nose pointed at your phone. The better you can listen the more you will understand about your partner.
2. Never, ever, EVER assume that you know what your partner is thinking or obsess over their motivations. If you want to know, just ask them.
3. When your partner is really excited and happy about something, be happy and excited with and for them. Part of the joy of being married is to have someone to share great moments with. Don’t rain on their parade, pick it apart or one-up-them, let them bask in their moment in the sun. Follow Cija on Twitter @modernloveguide
Blair Glaser| Blair Glaser“What’s your WHY?” These days, simply ‘loving each other’ and ‘not wanting to be alone’ isn’t enough to keep people together. I spend a lot of time helping married clients articulate and connect to a unified vision. A vision – you can also call it a common purpose, or mission — is a guidepost that helps couples connect with what’s important, avoid getting swallowed by pettiness, and get back on track when things feel “off.” In addition to raising healthy families, examples of couple visions include: supporting each other in fulfilling vocational goals; keeping physical intimacy fresh and inspired, and pursuing spiritual or personal growth.
Second, I help couples agree upon how to ‘do conflict’ as a team, by asking: How do we want our fights to go? What behavior is simply unacceptable? I recommend spouses establish ground rules for fighting, and create a safe word or signal to use if one partner crosses a line and raises their voice, or name calls, etc. The signal communicates that it’s time to STOP, take a breath, regroup, and consider what really needs to be discussed and if /why it’s important to do so NOW.
Lastly, everything in our lives require maintenance and upgrades: our cars, computers and homes. Why not our relationships? I recommend a couple agree upon and SCHEDULE regular State-of-the-Union talks. Four times a year (once a season) is the minimal amount I recommend for these “tune-ups” in which you take a walk, a drive, or even a sail, and discuss what’s working, what areas needs tending to, and what you both need to do to improve things moving forward. Having these talks and knowing they are firmly on the schedule creates a sense that the partnership matters and is being cared for. In some cases, honoring these scheduled maintenance talks frees couples from harping on issues and talking about the relationship all the time — so they have more time to enjoy each other and have fun. Follow Blair on Twitter @BlairGlaser
Bethany Meola| ForYourMarriageWhat are your top 3 practical tips for a happier marriage?
1. Pray together. Knowing your spouse well contributes to truly being happy in marriage. And praying together is an easy and intimate way of getting to know your spouse. It helps you know what is going on interiorly in their mind and heart. Praying together can be really simple: pray in thanksgiving for the blessings in your life, pray in petition for the areas of your life that you need help in, and praise God for his goodness. All of this can not only bring you and your spouse closer to God, but it can help you understand where your spouse is at in terms of their struggles and joys of daily living.
2. Serve others. Couples aren’t meant to be withdrawn from the larger society, but rather to open their relationship up to their community through service. Serving your community as a team can help married couples live out the message of the Gospel through their marriage. In an audience Pope Francis said to couples: “Do not hide your faith, do not hide Jesus, but carry him into the world and offer the witness of your family life!” Try volunteering at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Or volunteer together at your church to teach religious education or be involved in liturgical ministries. If you have children, volunteer at their school or for their sports teams.
3. Have fun. You love your spouse, but don’t forget to genuinely like your spouse as well. Value spending time together and don’t be afraid to try new things that will make you smile or laugh. No matter what stage of marriage you are in, there are always new things that you can learn about your husband or wife. Trying new and exciting things can help reveal these. This could mean visiting a new place or learning a new hobby together. It can also mean simply switching up your daily routine at home to incorporate more times of play and relaxation. Follow ForYourMarriage on Facebook ForYourMarriage
Larry Bilotta| YouCanSaveThisMarriageOne of the simplest things a couple can do is focus on a simple goal: Talk, Laughter and Excitement. Stay conscious of this goal and you will not drift far from one another, even in times of trouble.
1. Keep Talking: You will continue talking with each other only if you feel emotionally safe in the relationship. Conversation is really about the ability to listen. A wife needs her husband to listen because the act of listening makes her feel connected to him. For a man, when his wife listens, she gives him the respect he desperately needs.
2. Keep Laughing: Laughter is the lubricant of marriage. It’s the ability to laugh at things that happened and laugh at things that make you look silly that help you realize you’re only human.
3. Keep Things Exciting: Excitement is a good way to measure the health of your sexual relationship. To keep that part of your relationship alive and interesting, it’s very important you have a protected time and place where you plan to be free from distractions in the outside world. Follow Larry on Facebook @MrLarryBilotta
Lori Lowe| MarriageGems1. Choose to love each day.
Each day we have choices to make about how we spend our time, what kind of effort we put in the marriage, and whether we offer a kind word or a complaint. Be generous and kind. It’s easy to vent frustration and anger to fall on the ones closest to us. Research shows the daily acts of kindness and generosity help keep marriages strong.
2. Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses.
What we focus on will appear larger. Many spouses focus on the faults and problems within a marriage. However, focusing on our spouse’s positive attributes, on what we are grateful for, and on what is good in the marriage can help us see more good in the relationship. Most marriages have a few perpetual issues that never get resolved. If they are not deal-breakers, give them less focus.
3. Be a team.
View yourselves as two players on the same court rather than opposing players in the game of life. Back one another up. Cheer each other on. Work together to follow your dreams, to get through adversity, and to celebrate successes. Follow Lori on Twitter @LoriLowe
Roslyn Cantrell| RelationshipResourceCenterBeing in a marriage can be challenging at times. Your partner can trigger you in ways that no one else can. What might be three practical tips for a happier marriage? Learning some strategies and skills can make that easier.
First of all, it is most important to understand that there are as many realities as there are people in a relationship. Trying to figure out who is right and who is wrong in any particular situation is not a useful paradigm. What may get you better results is being curious about your partner’s reality. Accepting your partner’s reality as being true for him/her doesn’t annihilate yours. Acceptance doesn’t mean agreement. Given who my partner is as a person and how my partner does life, it makes sense to me that my partner could see it that way and I can accept that is true for my partner. In the exact same situation, I may have different feelings and thoughts and respond differently than my partner.
Secondly, using the Platinum Rule can make things much easier in your relationship. The Golden Rule is giving to another person in the way that you want to be given to. The Platinum Rule is giving to your spouse in the way your partner wants to be given to. An example is Lisa liking to receive one big gift at holiday time and giving that to her husband, Paul. Paul likes to receive a lot of little gifts and that’s what he gave to Lisa. One day when they were having a conversation about this, both found out how their partner liked to be given to. This was new information for both of them. That’s when they started using the Platinum Rule.
One last tip includes Caring Behaviors. I have come up with what I call the Bank Account Theory for Relationships. We need to make enough positive deposits into our relationship account, not only because it feels so good for right now, but also to be able to draw upon when we hit a rough spot. One way to do this is through Caring Behaviors. Each partner comes up with his/her own list of smalls things that their partner can do or say that makes them feel loved, cared for, cherished. These are the kind of things that could be done daily, but not necessarily will happen on a daily basis. Examples are: 1. Leaving a loving note on the pillow, 2. Calling, emailing, or texting, “I’m thinking of you.” and 3. Even chores you don’t like to do, such as taking out the garbage. Our lists include things that our partner is already doing and/or could do. The longer the list, the better – it gives our partner more to choose from – because our partner might not choose to do some of them. We then exchange our lists and start giving and receiving Caring Behaviors. One last comment – we can always add more ideas to our list, if we so choose.
Hopefully, one of the above will speak to you and help deepen your relationship with your partner. Follow the RRC on Facebook
Julie Baumgardner| FirstThingsDon’t sweat the small stuff. When you are tired it is easy to let little things get on your last nerve. When you find yourself in this place take think about all of your spouse’s great qualities such as he is respectful, a hard worker, fun to be around, funny, etc. The small stuff pales in comparison.
Be quick to forgive – Holding on to stuff isn’t helpful to you or your marriage.
Play! – Sometimes we get so caught up in being adults we forget the importance of play in our relationship. Playful communications and interactions, when nourished, produce a climate for easy connection and deepening, more rewarding relationship – true intimacy. Who wouldn’t want this in a relationship? Follow Julie on Twitter @ftfchatt
Lisa and Stu Gray| StupendousMarriage3 Practical Tips for a Better marriage:
Honor Your Marriage. That could look like a couple different things. Don’t bad mouth your spouse in public – ever! Or, Honor other peoples marriages – we love seeing older couples in stores or restaurants and asking them how they made it so long together – the stories they tell are inspiring to us. We have made a decision to be married – so we need to honor the sacredness of the relationship.
Be a student of good communication! Many of us don’t come into marriage with excellent communication skills – mainly we bring in broken ways of communicating that we watched our parents or caregivers express. So take a class, read books and practice the art of good communication. All of life is about communicating, so we especially need to be good at it with our spouse!
Pick One Thing. If you are in a season of “upset” with your spouse and can’t seem to find anything ‘right’ about them – pick one good thing about them. Something you fell in love with early in your marriage. Focus on that one thing and highlight it when you see them do it! What we focus on grows – so soon you will see other things that your spouse does well, and right, and you will get out of your rut! Follow Lisa and Stu on Facebook@stupendousduo
Julie Sibert| IntimacyInMarriage1. Stop thinking your spouse can make you happy. Marriage is a worthy endeavor, no doubt, and happiness is its occasional byproduct. But the most fulfilling marriages are made up of two people who love and respect each other without relying on the other person to make them happy.
2. Take care of your friendship. Marriage is messy. Ideal opportunities to nurture your marriage rarely appear. You have to be intentional. Kind words, a simple touch, a smile, a walk together after work, a helpful hand – baby steps count.
3. Learn to enjoy sex often. Sometimes you just have to push the laundry off the bed, close the bedroom door and make love to the person you married. Do this often and you will see that sex isn’t just sacred; it’s also tender and fun and reassuring and stress-relieving. Sex is never just about sex. Follow Julie on Twitter @intimacy4life
Michael and Gayle Tucker| MadAboutMarriageChoose
If a relationship is to pass the test of time both parties must make positive choices daily. Every day I must choose to do or say that which is in the best interest of my mate. Daily, I choose to be in the relationship for the long haul. I choose to find solutions to problems. I choose to do the loving thing, because true love really is a choice.
Everyone wants their life to matter. They need to know someone notices. They need connection. When couples connect they experience genuine power. When they fail to connect, the results are devastating. Things as simple as touch, eye contact, time together, and focusing on one another’s positive attributes will strengthen their bond.
Connection opens the door for other parts of the relationship to flourish. Communication becomes easier, laughter and joy are common, couples are better able to makes allowances for differences of personality or opinion, they are more open to physical intimacy, and problem solving becomes a team endeavor rather than competition for control.
Good communication is key to any successful marriage. Everything you know about your mate you’ve learned because your mate has communicated that information to you. Your mate shared information through their words, or non-verbally through facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, or behavior. When you commit to positive and gentle words, you send the message that your mate is loved and cherished. Follow Michael and Gayle on Twitter @madaboutmarriag
Bryan Van Slyke| ManturityTo be honest, there are many aspects to maintaining a great marriage, but there are a few very simple and practical ones that must be built on a strong foundation.
The first one is communication. Strong, open and honest communication skills are necessities for a happy marriage.
In my 10 years of marriage, conflict resolution has proved to be another key component to a happy marriage. This powerful tool allows for mistakes, which will happen. It also allows for forgiveness, which will be needed.
And finally, a happy marriage is one that stays intimate. If you can keep the first two points in check and maintained you’ll be able to build a much deeper level of intimacy inside and outside the bedroom. Follow Bryan on Twitter @Manturity
Karen Holland| ReinventingRelationshipsHere are my three tips:
1. Commitment— commitment to paying attention to each other and the state of the relationship, commitment to resolving conflicts no matter what, commitment to the bigger picture
2. Continue to date each other— flirt, be sexy, plan dates, make time, dress up, etc.
3. Take responsibility for your own happiness and personal fulfillment. Follow Karen on Twitter @karenwholland
Hudson and Emily Crider| HudsonAndEmily1. We’ve learned that we are a LOT happier when we focus on meeting each other’s wants and needs rather than our own.
2. Scheduled date nights are super important – and fun! It’s great to use some of those times to set goals together and dream.
3. By praying for and with each other, we’ve learned that we are nothing on our own, and it’s only because of God that we’re where we are today. Follow Hudson and Emily on Twitter @hudsonandemily
Betsy Kerekes| 101TipsForaHappierMarriageTip 1: Think about what is in your spouse’s interest. A loving person wants the best for another and is willing to follow through with actions.
Many disappointments in married life can be traced to one basic misunderstanding: we think love is a feeling. We think we are “in love” when we like the way we feel with the other person. But love is more than a feeling. Love is a decision. You can improve your marriage by making a decision to love. In fact, you can improve the lives of many people by making the decision to do what is in their interest, even if it is inconvenient for you at the time.
Tip 2: Expect conflict. Accept the fact that a certain amount of conflict is inevitable in any long-lasting relationship. Low-level conflict is NOT evidence that you chose the wrong person or that something is dreadfully wrong with one or both of you.
Resolve conflicts by talking through the matter at a time when both of you are well rested, well fed, and calm. Letting issues fester will only make matters worse to the point of explosion. Whenever possible, take an attitude of shared guilt to help diffuse and soften the blow, as in, “We should probably both work on keeping the kitchen a little tidier.” That comes off much nicer than, “Clean up this mess, you big slob!” You get better results with honey than you do with a stick. Show your love by being kind.
Tip 3: Aim for a “hundred-hundred” marriage, where each person gives 100 percent. You want to be able to say, “I do all I can for you, and you do all you can for me.” A “fifty-fifty” marriage, where each person does 50 percent of the everything, is for people who don’t trust each other.
Real loves means giving 100 percent even, and especially, when it hurts. This might mean letting him make the final call on the vacation arrangements, giving up a night out with the guys when she’s had a rough day and just wants to relax with you, folding his socks just he way he likes even though you disagree, or letting her choose the dessert you plan on sharing. Make the decision to place your love for him or her above other things, including yourself. Small kindnesses can go a long way. By making little changes in your attitude, you are going miles to improve your marriage. Follow Betsy on Facebook TheRuthInstitute
Tyson Cooper| Uplifting-LoveMind the small and simple things. We often get caught up in the allure of big and flashy expressions of love. While they are fun both to give and to receive the small and simple things are what are really important. Things like doing the dishes, taking out the trash, giving praise and encouragement, leaving love notes and “thank yous.” These are the foundation great marriages are built on. If we tend to them diligently and tirelessly the happiness in our marriages will continue to increase.
Say “I love you” often and mean it. You simply cannot sincerely overuse this phrase. We all love to hear it, we love being reminded that someone loves us especially when it is someone that we love too. The neat thing about telling your spouse that you love them often and sincerely is that you not only remind them how you feel you remind yourself as well. It’s hard to even momentarily forget the intensity of your love for your spouse if you’re always telling them.
Be Unified. Pray together, spend time together, work together, play together, go on trips together, go on dates together regularly and often, talk to each other, laugh with each other, read together, watch TV and movies together, go to bed together, plan how to spend your money together (cash flow planning/budgeting), you get the idea. Be one. I don’t mean never disagree and I don’t mean never be alone. We’re human we need to be alone sometimes and we will have disagreements. But in the end be unified. There should not be compromise in marriage, there should be cooperation. We are unified in moving forward not one person giving up something so that the other can win. A happy marriage needs to be a win-win. Follow Tyson on Twitter @tysontcooper
Chuck Allen| MarriageIsFunBlogWhen I think of three easy things to improve a marriage, I think of physical touch, laughter and dreams. In our hectic lives it is easy to skipphysical touch such as holding hands or kissing. But those small moments are important in what they communicate to your spouse – I still want you.
Laughter is also important. Laughing together makes us feel better physically, but it also creates moments of bonding and openness in the marriage. We often look silly when laughing and it requires a level of vulnerability that is healthy for our relationships – especially marriage.
Lastly, dreaming together is important because it forces us to share our deepest feelings. Talking about our dreams seems to come naturally during courtship, but sometimes fades away during married life. And since sometimes our dreams change over time, it is important to dream together frequently. Follow Chuck on Twitter @MarriageIsFuns
Nicky and Sila Lee| TheMarriageCourseTop three tips for a happy marriage
We often say love is spelt T-I-M-E. Every day we need to find a short time, 10 to 30 minutes, where we can connect with our spouse- whether it’s over a cup of tea or a drink when we return from work, while taking some kind of exercise such as walking or jogging together (as long as you are fit enough to jog & talk simultaneously!) or, if apart, through a Skype/FaceTime call at the beginning or end of the day. On a weekly basis, we encourage couples to set aside a time of at least two hours for doing something fun together like a date. We talk about this as ‘marriage time’. The benefit of planning this special time into our calendars each week is that we can invest regular opportunities to share with each other, not just the superficial day to day practicalities of life, but also the hopes, dreams, goals, thoughts, struggles and anxieties we need to know and understand about each other.
Take it in turns to talk and listen- and when your spouse is upset, listen without interrupting or giving advice. As human beings, one of our greatest longings is to be listened to and understood. It meets the fundamental needs we all have not to be alone. In marriage the danger is we don’t bother to listen, either out of laziness or because we think we already know what is going to be said! Listening is a powerful way of giving emotional support to our partner and showing we value each other, but it is costly. It takes effort and self-control to listen to our spouse as they pour out their feelings or express their opinions (especially if they are different from our own). To improve our listening is to improve our marriage. When our husband or wife knows we will not put them down, be critical of them, laugh at them, judge them or fly off the handle, but rather listen to them – whatever they reveal – our marriage becomes a safe place, and the love and intimacy between us will grow.
See the sexual relationship not just as the icing on the cake, but rather as a vital ingredient of the cake itself. Our sexual relationship affects every other part of our marriage, just as every other part of our marriage affects our sexual relationship. The problem today is the media and most films suggest that good sex is about instant gratification. A beautiful woman and a hot guy get into bed together and the sex is instantaneously wonderful. In real life, sex isn’t always perfect. For all of us, our sex life will go through good times and difficult times. To get through the difficult times and in order for our sexual relationship to grow and develop, we need to communicate honestly with each other. It takes courage and trust to bring issues into the open and talk about them with each other, but when you do, it will enable you to move forward together. For many couples, the different ways they respond sexually are often the cause of problems; however, we believe it’s these very differences that can enhance our lovemaking. We need to talk about things like what most turns us on, what we don’t like and even where or in what kind of environment we like to make love. If you make a start, even a small one, saying what you feel able to say, it can be the beginning of a process that will gradually get easier. The sexual relationship both expresses the unity and love between a husband and wife and creates the unity and love between them. Follow Nicky and Sila on Twitter @nickyandsilalee
Gina Parris| GinaParrisI think any couple can bring more happiness into their marriage by understanding a bit of positive psychology.
1. Be a happy person first. Your spouse is not your happiness committee.
2. Change up one little habit like how you greet your spouse each day after or in the morning. Make a conscious effort to make that greeting a special moment between you.
3. Forget getting worked up over needing big daunting changes in your marriage. Instead focus on adding simple activities you can do to bring in a little more fun into your schedules together. It might be a game night with a few other couples, or a trip to a rock climbing wall.
When you create humor, you create a bond and lower defenses, and that’s always a good precursor to romance and increased happiness. Follow Gina on Twitter @GinaParris
Ben Cohen| RelationshipGrowthCenterSince “communication” is a given, I’m going to focus instead on 3 things:
Presence, Kindness, and Generosity.
You have to be “present” to love your partner.So many of us get caught up in work, email, Facebook, and other distractions that we simply are not there with our partner. We can easily lose our connection if we don’t tend to it.
Next, you have to be kind to each other. Words can hurt, or they can heal and nurture. We simply have to rid ourselves of criticism, attack, and negativity.
Finally, we have to be generous with each other. Forgive their faults, let go of past hurts. None of us are perfect, and in “True Love”, we accept even those parts of our partner that may be difficult for us.
Okay–I have to add a fourth! Find ways to have fun, pleasure, and spark your passion. We need to manage difficulties, but also stoke the fire of joy and pleasure. Together, this would be my recipe for a happier marriage.
Shlomo Slatkin| TheMarriageRestorationProjectOur 5 Step Plan Action to a Happy and Healthy Marriage is full of tips to making a marriage happier.
The First Step to a happier marriage is Commitment. When you are committed to the relationship, you have accepted the reality that you are in it for the long haul and are more invested in making it work.
The Second Step is to Seal Your Exits, cutting out negative energy drains on your relationship. When you stop talking bad about your spouse and cease avoiding him/her for other activities, you bring life back to the relationship.
The Third Step is Detox your Marriage. Criticism and negativity can tear a marriage apart. Replace these toxins by asking for what you need and focusing on the positive. Follow Shlomo on Twitter @rabbislatkin
Caleb and Verlynda Simonyi-Gindele|OnlyYouForeverI must say, it was difficult to come up with just three things, but here they are:
1. Be committed and show it with actions and words.
2. Give generously with your expressions of love and self-sacrifice.
3. Laugh together regularly. Make laughter part of your daily routine. Follow Caleb and Verlynda on Facbook OnlyYouForeverDotCom
Jenev Caddell| MyBestRelationship
TOP 3 PRACTICAL TIPS FOR A HAPPIER MARRIAGE1. Maintain your emotional connection. You can do this by focusing on what Dr. Sue Johnson refers to as “ARE” – which stands for Accessibility, Responsiveness and Emotional Engagement. Be open and emotionally available to each other, and you’ll deepen your connection and be happier together as a result.
2. Make sure you know you are each other’s #1. Remind each other of this and show each other your commitment. Be clear that your partner is at the top of your list.
3. Have fun with each other. Try new things and have fun together. Do this while embracing tips #1 and #2, and you’ll have a happier marriage. Follow Jenev on Twitter @DrJenev
Tanja Pajevic| RebootThisMarriage1. Address your resentment.
If you do nothing else, address your resentment. After five years of blogging about marriage, I’ve come to realize that resentment is the #1 killer of most marriages. So address the stuff that’s bugging you now, before it starts to eat away at the foundation of your marriage.
2. Know Yourself.
A lot of us get tripped up by what our marriage is supposed to look like (not to mention who we’re supposed to be). But you know what? That’s bullshit. You’ll never be happy (much less have a happy marriage) when you’re chasing someone else’s dream.
Just like you’ll never be happy when you’re living up to someone else’s expectations of who you are or what your life should look like. (This includes your parents, your neighbors and just about everyone else you know.)
So claim your own dream. Figure out what makes you happy. And figure out what kind of a marriage works for you and your spouse, not the folks down the street.
3. Invest in your relationship.
For any relationship to thrive, it needs love and attention. Just like any growing, living thing, a marriage won’t grow if it’s not watered. So be sure that you’re spending quality time with your spouse–especially if you have children.
I see a lot of parents falling by the wayside on this one. We put so much time and energy into our children that we’ve got nothing left for ourselves, much less our spouse.
It’s time to change that. You know why? Because if you don’t take time for yourself (see #2 above), then you won’t have any time or energy left over for your spouse. And that leads to …ding ding ding… resentment, the #1 killer of most marriages.
So (after you’ve taken some good quality time for yourself), sneak away with your honey for 15 minutes while the kids are watching a movie. Go on a date or heck, hold hands, if that’s all you’ve got time for. But do whatever it is you need to do to connect with your spouse.
Those, my friends, are my top 3 tips for a happier marriage. They’re big ones, I know. But they’re entirely doable. Start with one small change, then add another. And keep going! It’ll pay off, I promise. Not only for your marriage, but also for your life.
Good luck! Follow Tanja on Facebook RebootThisMarriage
Dustin Riechmann| EngagedMarriageHere are my three “quick tips” for married couples:
1. Don’t lose the “Couple Time” in your relationship. With all the other roles we take on as parents, employees, caretakers, homemakers, community leaders, etc., it’s SO easy to forget to take time to just be a couple and enjoy one another. You have to be proactive to make it happen!
2. Use your “No Power” for those outside your marriage. If you let others dictate your schedule by agreeing to every request for your time, you’ll have no margin left in your life. You must tell others No often, and this includes your children!
3. Use “Yes Power” in your marriage. When your spouse wants to be intimate with you, don’t allow yourself to default to No. Do everything you can to make it a Yes and realize that sex shouldn’t be reserved for a special (or mythical) time when the mood is perfect and “more important” things are taken care of. Sex is an intimate form of communication between you that can be enjoyed in all different circumstances and settings. Let sex unite you…often! Follow Dustin on Twitter@engagedmarriage
Carrie and Jim Gordon| The-Intimate-Couple
Here are our top 3 practical tips for a happier marriage:
Prioritize Frequent Lovemaking!
Having sex is not only fun, but it deepens intimacy and builds a strong emotional connection with your spouse. If you’re too busy to have sex often, we suggest you schedule it into your day just as you would your daily exercise!
Have a Weekly Date
Don’t stop dating just because you’re married! Having weekly times just for the two of you to share romance allows you to enjoy each other’s company, have good conversation, and strengthen your friendship.
Random acts of kindness demonstrate unselfish love and care for your spouse. Friendly tones of speech along with “please” or “thank you” convey kind appreciation. Expressing kindness brings joy to your marriage! Follow Carrie and Jim on Twitter @intimatecouple
April Cassidy| PeacefulWife1. Depend on Christ to meet your deepest spiritual and emotional needs rather than expecting your spouse or marriage to be your major source of fulfillment, purpose, satisfaction, and contentment. I can be content, peaceful, and joyful no matter what my circumstances if my hope is in Christ and He is in the proper place in my life. In order for this to be a reality, I must be willing to fully yield all that I have and all that I am to Him.
2. Become the man/woman God calls you to be no matter what your spouse is or is not doing. Be willing to be the first one God changes. My response to my spouse is about my character, not about my spouse. If I am close to God, I will respond with the power of His Spirit – full of His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control even when my spouse is not treating me as I would like to be treated. How I choose to treat my spouse reveals my heart and relationship with God.
3. Appreciate the good in your spouse and focus on the things you love, admire, and respect. Whatever I focus on will grow in my heart and mind – and in my marriage. Follow April @thepeacefulwife
Tammy Greene| Married-And-Naked3 ways to a happier marriage
Don’t play the blame game. Pointed fingers never help a situation. Always speak from a place of accountability.
Show Appreciation Everyday
Say “Thank you” to your spouse every day. For the little and the big things. Never let your spouse feel unappreciated.
Life is busy. There is no way around that. But the moment you let other things take priority over time with your spouse, you will start to get in trouble. Always make time to stay connected. From quiet time together at night, to scheduled date nights, to weekend getaways without work and the kids. It is vital that you spend time alone together, as often as you can, in order to maintain the connection that made you want to get married in the first place. Follow Tammy on Twitter @MarriedAndNaked
Lisa Marie Bobby| GrowingSelf1. Be tolerant. Have you ever been in a not-so-great mood? Are you ever less than perfectly lovely and thoughtful? Do you ever say or do things that you regret later? Of course — you are a human being. The times that you are not your very best are always understandable, because you see them in context of your own perspective. Yes, you were grumpy, but you have allergies, a headache, or ________. While we’re very quick to excuse our own mistakes, we tend to judge the character of others for their slip ups. If you want a better marriage, practice being tolerant of your partner. This means having compassion and empathy for them instead of judgment.
2. Be generous. If the golden rule is “Treat others as you’d like to be treated,” the platinum rule is “Treat others as they’d like to be treated.” Always keep in mind that your partner is a unique person with hopes, needs, values and feelings that might be different from your own. Do not assume that things that are valuable and important to you are (or should be) special to your partner. If you want a happy marriage think about who they really are — and show them you love them in ways that are meaningful to them.
3. Show up. The best communication in the world is entirely worthless if it isn’t backed by action. What you say and how you say it doesn’t matter nearly as much as showing people you hear them and understand them through your behaviors. If your partner tells you something is important to them, you must demonstrate that you care about their feelings by showing up and following through. Talking is easy. Showing up is hard because it requires sometimes doing things that you’d rather not because they are important to the person you care about. Showing up is the key to a happy marriage, because it is what love actually looks like in action. Follow Lisa on Twitter @DrLisaBobby
Belah Rose| DelightYourMarriageWhat are your top 3 practical tips for a happier marriage
1. Be willing to say “I am embarrassed”. I think that is one of the biggest reasons arguments draw on and on. Anger grows and tempers flare. But it all started with a misunderstanding. The guilty party realized his or her mistake but pride gets in the way of an apology. When someone gets embarrassed especially in public the reaction is far larger than it ever should have been. But admitting to embarrassment is not weakness, it’s courage. We all make mistakes, overreact, become emotional, feel uncomfortable, and generally make a fool out of ourselves at times. The question is: will you remain a fool? Or once you realize your mistake, own it, admit that you slipped up, and get your relationship back on track!
2. Take the fire out of your voice. Boy this was hard for me to learn. In my house growing up we understood how upset someone was by the volume of his or her voice. Instead, speak calmly. He doesn’t hear anything but mothering when you’re speaking loudly. And he doesn’t want to live with his mother…not sexy. It also makes both of you more heated and exchange words you don’t mean.
3. Use a scale. If you are really angry and your husband isn’t getting it (because you’re being careful not to yell), let him know on a scale of 1 – 10 I’m feeling a level 10 in the anger department. That is very concrete and helps him to understand what you’re really going through.
A huge THANK YOU to all the marriage coaches who contributed to this interview!
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If you're serious about making your marriage happier and want to know how to get unstuck check out Save The Marriage by Dr. Lee Baucom - it's one of the best guides out there to break out of the destructive habits and behavior in your marriage!
Now it’s your turn! Can you think of any other practical tips for a happy marriage? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.