Today is a special day because I’m celebrating my 10 year wedding anniversary with my husband Daniel. We’ve been through a lot together. I only wish someone had handed us this guide with 8 healthy marriage tips when we first started our relationship.
Having a toolkit would have helped us navigate the unchartered territory of cohabitating and maintaining a healthy relationship.
Whether you’re newly married and in domestic bliss, in a long-term relationship, or thinking about getting married, this guide has 8 healthy marriage tips to help you thrive in your relationship.
1. Communication is key
One of the healthy marriage tips I got early on in my relationship was “Listen to understand, not respond.”
Oftentimes in the heat of the moment, you may feel determined to make your point to your partner.
Obviously, you’re right about whatever you’re arguing about and they are wrong.
However, in order to have good communication between you and your partner, it’s important to slow down.
Remember, your partner isn’t a mind reader (even if you wish they were). The only way for them to know what you’re thinking or feeling is for you to express it in a compassionate and constructive manner.
2. Go to bed angry
Unlike most people, I don’t believe in trying to resolve conflict late at night when you and your partner are both exhausted.
Not only is it not conducive to try to hash things out when you’re both angry AND tired, but it will possibly make the situation worse.
When you’re tired and angry, your brain is not functioning optimally and you’re flooded with stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.
As a result, your body is prepared for more of a “fight or flight” response since your mind thinks you are under threat.
Trying to have a logical and constructive conversation with someone in that state is not productive. You may end up saying things that you will later regret.
So here’s one of my favorite healthy marriage tips…go to bed angry.
Tell your partner you want to push pause and continue the conversation the following day.
Then go to sleep.
If you feel restless, try some relaxation tips to help you calm down to get a good night’s rest.
Surprisingly, once you wake up in the morning refreshed and alert, you’ll be able to communicate more effectively and understand one another better.
3. Divide and conquer
Take two people with their unique personalities, life experiences, and idiosyncrasies. Put them in a shared common space and tell them they need to figure out how to cohabitate.
If you have children and/or pets, it adds another layer of pressure.
It’s no longer just about you and your partner, but also other people’s well-being that you have to take into consideration.
So here’s my advice for all you out there looking for healthy marriage tips…divide and conquer.
Instead of blaming or getting resentful of your partner, divide up the responsibilities within your household.
Identify each of your strengths within the domestic sphere.
Since my husband and I both work full-time, we figured out early in our relationship what each of us likes and is good at.
Then we divided up household tasks between us.
For example, I enjoy grocery shopping, he prefers cooking.
To reduce our stress, we set aside time weekly to do meal planning, which saves us both time and money. Daniel manages our finances, I’m in charge of car maintenance.
There’s obviously a lot more that we divide up between us but one way to avoid resentment is to do your best do divide up responsibilities equally.
If one of you feels like you’re carrying more of a load, then it’s time to revisit your shared duties to find another solution.
Compromise is the key to domestic bliss
Daniel and I both loathe washing dishes. We use the dishwasher as often as possible, otherwise, we just take turns doing them.
So if there’s a chore that you both hate doing, find a way to compromise.
Perhaps you hire someone to do it or your alternate days.
Whatever you do, don’t create a story in your head of why your children aren’t being taken care of or why the dog hasn’t been taken out for a walk.
Instead, communicate a way on how it can get done so you can experience domestic bliss.
Hire a housekeeper or nanny
If you have children, consider hiring a nanny or babysitter to help you. It’s a lot to juggle parenting, raising children, having a marriage, and working outside the home.
Therefore, if you have the financial means, hire a housekeeper and nanny to help you and your partner.
Looking back, this is something that I wish I had done earlier in our marriage as it would have saved us both a lot of frustration.
4. Marriage doesn’t end at the wedding
If you have been with your partner for a long time and considering marriage, keep in mind that a wedding lasts one day whereas a marriage lasts a lifetime.
As a licensed therapist, I have counseled many couples who excitedly planned a wedding and got married.
Within one year, many of these couples were filing for divorce.
I can say from both personal experiences as well as clinical experience, that entering a marriage is one of the most important decisions that you will make in your life.
It is not a decision that should be taken lightly and without deep and thoughtful consideration.
It always amuses me when I see people in their early 20’s exclaiming that they’re engaged and upon further questioning, they have very little idea of what being married actually consists of.
Instead, they’re focusing more on planning a big wedding party.
Do this before you get married
So before you get engaged, read The Hard Questions: 100 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Say “I Do”.
The questions in this book will require both you and your partner to examine your personal values, ideals, goals, and more.
I can personally attest that Daniel and I spent hours talking on the phone (remember he’s from Austria). We went through each chapter and honestly answered the questions.
It took a long time, however, we’re both glad we made that investment prior to getting married.
Commit the time to really get to know your partner before you get engaged. If you’re already engaged, then consider pre-marital counseling.
Trust me, it’s worth investing the time, money, and resources to ensure that you’re both on the same page.
Do this before you have a wedding and later realize that you don’t want to be married to this person after all.
5. Keep dating your partner
Remember early on in your relationship when you and your partner were dating? The anticipation of seeing each other, getting dressed up, and going out to dinner or a concert?
Interestingly enough, when you’re falling in love your brain gets flooded with a concoction of chemicals. That’s what gives you that incredible rush of excitement and anticipation.
Over time, however, you no longer get that chemical rush because the novelty wears off.
What can you do to maintain the initial bliss?
Schedule date night weekly
The answer is easy, keep dating your partner and try new things.
Our brain LOVES novelty and change.
Instead of going to the same restaurant on date night, go somewhere different. Try doing activities that require you both to participate like a cooking class or rock climbing.
Though Daniel and I have been married for 10 years, we make it a point to keep dating each other. We love to travel so we plan fun weekend trips together like Glamping in Big Bear or international trips to visit his family in Austria.
If you’re short on cash, here’s a list of 101 Free or Cheap Date Ideas that you can do together.
Surprise each other
If you want to keep the sexy dynamic between you and your partner for years to come, find ways to surprise each other.
Perhaps your partner loves a particular type of beverage or snack. Next time you see it, buy it and hide it in their work bag with a note that you love them.
When you surprise your partner you’re showing them that you still find them attractive and that they’re important to you.
6. Rely on your community
When Daniel and I got married, we asked our community to make a vow to support us throughout our marriage.
In collective tribal communities, everyone looks out for one another.
If a couple has difficulty, they go to their elders to seek advice. Or they gather with their closest friends or family members to give them guidance.
This may be different for you depending on your culture and background.
However, I consider that relying on a community is one of the healthy marriage tips that we have used to keep our union strong.
7. Take care of yourself
Many of my clients are extremely burnt out because they are at their wit’s end.
Yes, you are awesome and you can manage a lot, but you’re also human.
So remember, before you can take care of someone else, you need to take care of yourself first.
One way to ensure a healthy partnership and relationship is to practice self-care daily.
Take control. Feel better.
Start your Self-care Journey.
Figure out what works for you and incorporate those activities into your schedule.
Move your body
One of the most important aspects of my self-care is exercising daily. I love doing yoga and have noticed that I’m calmer and more relaxed if I exercise regularly.
Interestingly enough, partners who exercise together have a vibrant relationship (and more sex!).
8. Slay your anger dragon
Looking back, early on in our relationship, Daniel and I argued a lot about cleaning. He’s somewhat neurotic about surfaces not having water on them.
It takes a LOT of patience not to project your anger onto your partner
Remember, it’s not your partner but the actual event or trigger that is causing you to feel angry.
Calm yourself down
We learn all about self-regulation when we are children. If you’ve experienced any type of trauma in your childhood, it may be harder for you to self-regulate especially under severe stress.
When you self-regulate, you know how to calm yourself down after something exciting, upsetting or anxiety-provoking happens.
Don’t throw in the kitchen sink
This is one of the healthy marriage tips a friend shared that I really appreciate.
When you’re in the middle of a disagreement, it’s so easy to veer from the issue at hand to other things that you’re frustrated about.
You may be irritated at your partner for playing video games when the sink is full of dishes and the baby has not been fed yet.
It’s easy to get sucked into the anger vortex and throw in all sorts of missives at your partner.
Slow down, take several deep breaths, and focus on asking for what you need help with.
In addition, don’t bring up past resentments because it won’t help your cause.
Don’t roll your eyes
Dr. John Gottman discovered four negative behaviors, or The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, that spell disaster for any relationship.
In graduate school, we read his book and I discovered that he could predict whether a couple would divorce with an average of over 90% accuracy.
What do you think the number #1 predictor of divorce is?
“Contempt is sulfuric acid for love. It is the most poisonous of all relationship killers, destroying psychological, emotional, and physical health.”Dr. John Gottman
So instead of rolling your eyes, calm yourself down and appreciate your partner.
Say thank you often and mean it
If you want to avoid divorce or a break-up, the antidote to contempt is building a culture of appreciation.
“Appreciation draws us closer to those who appreciate us, and in turn, when we give appreciation, we draw ourselves closer to those we love. It’s caring for ourselves by being loving.”Dr. Julie Gottman
It’s actually the small little daily things that we all want to be appreciated for.
Say thank you to your partner when they take out the trash, pick up the toys after the kids go to bed or after the tasty dinner they made.
Instead of taking your partner for granted, thank them often, and you’ll notice a positive shift in your relationship.
As I sit here gazing loving at my husband of 10 years, I realize that we’ve come along far from when we first got together.
Our story is rather romantic and sweet since we met when we were in our early 20’s and maintained a long-distance friendship for 7 years before falling in love.
I feel quite lucky to be married to someone who is as devoted to our marriage as I am.
Moreover, creating our own toolkit of healthy marriage tips has helped strengthen our bond.
Learning how to have good communication, slaying your anger dragon, and sharing domestic responsibilities are among the many tools that will help you and your partner have a healthy and happy relationship.
What are some healthy marriage tips that you recommend to others? Share in the comments below so we can support one another!