After 11 years of marriage, I can hardly call myself an expert, but I do know that my marriage has never been better than it is today. We haven’t always handled our challenges well, and once even seriously questioned if we had a future together. It was at that lowest point, staring at the end of things that we talked about what needed to change to bring us back from the edge, and to keep us from ever going there again. I don’t know if you’d call this a “formula,” but the items below are the things that are the secret to our happy marriage, and I share them here in the hope that maybe other couples can benefit from them.
Do the little things and do them often. There are little things that bring your spouse joy, and typically they are easy to do or inexpensive to purchase. My wife loves it if I leave her little notes where she will find them, or bring her flowers without a special occasion. If she isn’t on a diet, I might surprise her with dark chocolate, or if she is, I might give her sunflower seeds. Maybe I’ll put gas in her car or put the clothes in the dryer. What these things say is “I’m thinking about you and I love you,” and they say it in a way that words never could. They also say it better than something like remembering her birthday, which is just expected, and no bonus points are awarded for doing the bare minimum.
Be a part of each other’s life throughout the day. In this wonderful modern world, people no longer have to leave each other in the morning and not share each other’s lives all day long. My wife and I decided to increase our intimacy by texting each other throughout the day. We don’t do this to the point that it interferes with work, but anyone can find a moment on a break to fire off a quick text message to let your spouse know you’re thinking of them.
Don’t lose your physical intimacy. As we get older and life gets busier, physical intimacy can get pushed onto a back burner. Make time for it, it is important. If physical conditions prevent anything else, or if you’re both really tired, spend some time cuddling.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. A lot of the things couples fight over sound very petty and silly to people who are merely spectators to the situation. My wife and I are two different people and are going to disagree sometimes, but we always keep in mind that nothing we disagree about is more important than our relationship with each other. Having that as a starting point, we are able to work anything out over time and not have it be a wedge between us. Compared to our marriage, anything we disagree about is basically all “small stuff.”
A happy marriage doesn’t just happen, and it doesn’t just stay happy without the joint efforts of both people. For Denise and I, a happy marriage is not only worth every bit of effort required, but it is also the most important gift we can give to our children. I pray each one of you finds happiness, peace and fulfillment in your marriages.