5 ways to build a happier marriage
We’ve all heard the old saying, “Happy wife, happy life.” Your husband may say it to a friend, your father-in-law my say it to your husband, or you may even say it as support for an argument you'd like to win. As sexist as this cliché sounds, there's some truth to it — in any relationship, both parties should be happy. So, take the saying one step further and extend it to your husband as well. Of course, it doesn’t rhyme, but “Happy husband, happy life” makes sense, too!
1. Be romantic again
In the early stages of dating someone new, people tend to try their hardest to be romantic and intriguing to their new love interest. The feelings of new love are intoxicating, and it's effortless to focus attention on impressing and charming the other person. Once the chase is over, the relationship can become more of a given and less of a passionate desire. In order to please your spouse and bring back some of that earlier romance, find a way to continue romantic dinners, homecooked meals and even flirty texts to demonstrate your ongoing affection and keep the spark alive. It reminds your partner that you still appreciate and desire them and would “chase” them all over again.
2. Listen, listen and listen
Most, if not all, people have a powerful desire to be heard. When they feel their opinions or feelings are constantly being ignored, their expression of said feelings may start to sound more like nagging than being heard. But active listening involves more than just sitting silently. As humans, we yearn for conversation and active engagement. We want to feel an empathic understanding from our loved ones, especially our husband or wife. Listening is a key component of healthy communication in a marriage. Actively listening to your spouse allows you to better understand his or her viewpoint, whether you agree with it or not.
3. Don’t "babysit" your own children:
You and your spouse have children together, but very often the natural assumption is that the wife is the key caregiver and the husband is the babysitter used on occasion. All too often, marriages fall into the dangerous trap of this assumption, and husbands will say things like, “Oh, I’ll babysit the kids so you can go to lunch with your friends.” Husbands are not hired help, and childcare is not only the wife’s job. Strive to ensure that childcare is equal in your marriage. In this situation, a husband or wife might say something like, “I’ll feed the kids lunch and take them to the park this afternoon.” The message is straightforward in what you will do, without implying that you are doing your spouse a favor.
4. It’s the little things that count
Little things add up. Small daily actions can help maintain a happy marriage. Simple things such as checking in on each other during the day, making dinner, doing some household chores or other small gestures of appreciation can mean more than any grand gesture or expensive gift. In the spirit of reciprocity and equality in marriage, doing little things for your spouse means he or she is more likely to do nice things for you in the future.
5. Compliments will get you everywhere
A little positive reinforcement makes everyone feel better about themselves, and spouses who feel good about themselves feel good about their marriage. Specific compliments focused on a particular event are especially meaningful. Rather than just saying, "Thanks for dinner,” consider something specific that you noticed in the preparation or how the meal made you feel. This personal and thoughtful approach to compliments goes a long way in ensuring they're received deeply.
Marriage requires the full commitment and participation of both partners in order to maintain an everlasting and happy relationship. Truly happy unions are the result of two spouses loving and caring for each other. Bottom line: All marriages take effort and hard work. Love brought you together, but continuing to put your best foot forward is what will help to guarantee your future success as a couple.
Malini Bhatia is the founder of marriage.com, a website dedicated to providing value in every marriage and offering resources, information and a community to help support healthly, 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.