Stop the presses! Turns out, having a happy marriage is not that hard, and if you have a happy marriage, you will be a happier person! You may be rolling your eyes and shouting at the screen in opposition to the notion that marriage is easy, but if you remember and practice a few basic, common-sense things, marriage is actually quite simple.
Sure, there are many, many challenging things about marriage, and sometimes your spouse and your relationship get pushed to the bottom of your priorities. More pressing things like work, kids, meal prep, errands, sleeping, bills and more can put your marriage way down at the bottom of your to-do list.
This might make you feel disconnected from your spouse or make you wish your marriage could be better. But at the end of the day, when you are so exhausted and you feel as if you have just barely squeaked through, how can you possibly add more to your plate?
It’s simple, really. Just take some time to remember why you got married in the first place. Basically, this person you agreed to spend your life with simply made you feel happy.
And that happy feeling can be sustained over time with a little effort. So it’s time to focus more on our marriages — the very thing that can make everything fall into place and make happiness a reality in your life.
Here are five simple tips to make your marriage the happiness machine it should be:
1. Say “I love you” every day
They are just three little words, but they mean so much. “My husband knows I love him,” you might think. Does he? Even if he does, hearing it could help him feel it even stronger. Perhaps it would make that drama at work or the sounds of the fighting children sting a little less.
2. Do something extra
Telling your spouse you love him is wonderful, but showing your spouse the truth behind those words means even more. Do something extra for your spouse daily. It doesn’t have to be huge; it just needs to be something that you don’t already do regularly. It could be something like cleaning out his car or taking care of that insurance call or making his favorite meal. Put this something extra on the top of your daily to-do list.
3. Always kiss goodbye and hello
This seems so small, doesn’t it? But what if you did this every day? The kisses would add up. And so would the feeling that you love each other and put each other first, no matter where life takes you.
4. Choose your battles
There are probably things your spouse does that you don’t agree with. Maybe you are even opposites. It could be something trivial, like how he loads the dishwasher, to something bigger, like how he takes care of his health. We can’t and shouldn’t try to control each other. We can certainly discuss our differing viewpoints without judgment. But in the end, you need to choose your battles and let your spouse find his own way. Be patient and don’t force it. You will both be happier.
5. Have each other’s backs, even when it’s hard
The two of you are a team. But what if you have different parenting styles or approaches to finances? Those can be big tests. Sometimes we feel like our way would work better. But being happily married is more important than which discipline approach to use or which 401K fund to invest in. It may take some discussing, but at least get your life goals on the same page, and then work from there. It may require some give and take. But if you don’t always agree, you can still support each other. When your spouse disciplines your child, back him up. When you both decide on which investment to choose, offer your confidence and appreciation.
Your spouse and your marriage should be number one on your priority list. Just think of how happy you both would be if you focused more on your relationship and how much his happiness would affect you. And if we feel happier and more connected, don’t you think our days would go better? Work might go more smoothly, raising children might be a little less stressful and all the other minutia in life might just be more manageable, even joyful, if you focused on your marriage first.
Malini Bhatia is the founder and CEO of marriage.com, a website dedicated to providing value in every marriage, including resources, information and a community that supports healthy, happy marriages. Bhatia has global experience in international management and communications. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband of 11 years and two daughters.