Whether you are an engaged couple, married couple, or partners who have been committed to one another for a long time, there is often more that you can do to enhance your relationship.
Would you like your marriage to become just as perfect as your wedding, or even better? So many couples seem to be a “perfect match,” but what does that really mean? How can you make and keep the very best possible relationship, built to last a lifetime?
Most of us desire things like a really attractive and sexy partner who is independent, reliable, earns a decent living, who gets along with our family and friends, and whose friends and family we really like, as well. Most of all, we desire to be with someone we love and who loves us. But even if you have all those things, how do you know this relationship can really work well and last a lifetime? Here are seven tips to a happy marriage plus four signs you are in fact, a “perfect match.”
Four signs your partner, spouse, or fiancé is the “perfect match” for you.
When you are with this person, you can really, honestly be yourself.
When you get to be with your partner, you feel as though you have “come home.”
When you are together, you understand each other, and are able to plan and compromise without a lot of fighting.
When you are with this person, your heart opens, and you find yourself loving life more than ever before. Life looks full of possibilities, and you feel a lot of hope and happiness.
Seven tips for a Happy Marriage:
Take an interest in the other person’s interests. Learn and focus on what makes them happy, and act in ways that make them feel loved. The relationship is not just about you – it is equally about them, so compromise your interests sometimes, about half of the time, for their interests.
Let go of the words “should” and “ought.” When we tell someone they should do something, there is both an implicit judgment about being right, and a message of superiority – that we may know better than they do. In order for people to feel comfortable about being themselves, it works much better if we make suggestions and then let them decide, because then we are encouraging them to own their own decisions, and to be true to themselves.
The words “should” and “ought” sound judgmental, and automatically suggest a feeling of guilt to our subconscious minds. Motivating people through guilt and judgement brings more unhappiness than happiness.
The goal is to encourage our partners to be responsible, while also getting to be themselves. So, one way to do this without being pushy is to get really good at asking questions, such as: “If you do that, will it hurt your chances of getting the job you really want?” Or: “Will that make you happy in the long run?”
We want our partners to feel as though we are someone they can turn to when they need to make decisions. If they ask what we think, we can certainly share, but then support them in being themselves.
Communicate with “I” language. This one is really big. A lot of times, we get upset and want to start using “you” statements, which can sound something like this (depending on how angry we are): “You never take out the garbage without me asking you – I don’t want to have to be your mother all the time.” Or: “You never think before you make a decision – you’re such an idiot!”
By the way, bonus tip #8 is: never call your partner a bad name – just never!
So, when we speak with “you” language, we are projecting some of our own stuff onto the other person, and that is not helpful. It will generally sound negative and offensive.
To be honest, we can only speak from our own experience. It turns out that the ancient dictums of “Know thyself” and “to thine own self be true” are some of the most helpful guides to life.
So, we need to speak from our perspective, which may be, understandably, a place of feeling hurt, let down, abandoned, or even betrayed.
To do that with love, we need to speak with gentle, non-accusatory “I” language.
Here is an example: “I really feel hurt when you don’t do the chores without me having to ask you – I feel as though I have an extra job not only keeping track of what needs to be done, and doing a lot of it myself, but then also working to persuade you to do some of it. I feel exhausted and I need you to look around, see what needs to be done, and please just do some of it.”
Or: “I feel so frustrated when you work late every night. I feel as though you don’t really want to come home and be with me. I know your job is super important, but I find myself wondering if I am ever important to you too. I long to spend more time with you because I love you, and I need you to find time for us just to be together each day.”
So, an “I” statement follows this format: “I feel blank when you blank, and I need you to blank.”
Plan together. From who does what chores, to who takes care of the cars, to who will cook, to how to budget, to how much money to save, to how to save that money, plan together. Plan not only vacations, but also date nights. Plan meals, so you both get to eat foods you love. Always give your partner an opportunity to be informed and to give input in decisions bigger than what kind of expensive dress you are about going to buy, and maybe in those decisions, too, depending on your budget.
Surprises need to be only in the categories in which they enjoy surprises, like birthday gifts, or planning a night out.
Schedule regular date nights – preferably once a week, even if you just stay home, but plan to have a fun night together.
If you are going to have kids, then after the kids are born or adopted, date night might be just twice a month, but please still plan date night. The other two nights a month might be family nights, but date night for just the two of you is still just as important.
Date nights not only bring you closer together, they help make sure you are both enjoying life, and enjoying life together. Date nights also reduce stress, both for you as individuals, and together as a couple. Make sure the date nights are something that helps you both feel relaxed and happy, at least some of the time – taking turns choosing what to do if you need to.
Balance time alone and time spent together. Spend time alone or apart if you are an introvert, and if your partner is an introvert and you are an extrovert, give them the space and time they need, in reasonable daily amounts, to be alone as well as with you. And if you are an introvert and your partner is an extrovert, make sure you spend time with them and give them the attention they need.
Communicate regularly – daily, about how life is going, how you are feeling, how they are feeling, and about the details of life that need to be taken care of daily.
As part of that communication, don’t keep secrets. Unless your best friend asks you to keep a secret, or work requires that you keep secrets, generally, don’t keep secrets.
If you need something to be private – just something the two of you know, that’s fine, but other than something like, I feel like throwing up when he puts on that nightshirt – he just doesn’t look manly, there is no need to keep most secrets that we try to convince ourselves that we need to keep. And when it comes to that night shirt, the only part you might want to keep “secret” is that you feel like throwing up.
And let’s just talk about in the bedroom for a moment. It is very important for both of you to know what works for you and what doesn’t work for you sexually, and to seek to love the other one in ways that really make them feel loved. Taking turns is crucial, but communicating openly and honestly about how each one feels is super essential.
Keeping open communications that are gentle and supportive, focused on what your partner loves and cares about will keep the bonds of matrimony working for a long, long time – hopefully, for a marriage that lasts “happily ever after.”
Would you like to learn more about how to create a beautiful relationship?
For the month of February, I am offering a Life Coaching Special for Couples or Individuals.Click to learn more or call 202-237-7000 to schedule your session.
Rev. Carol "Anandi" Richardson M.Div., M.P.H., combines wisdom and training from both East and West, and focuses on wellness in mind, body, and soul. She specializes in Reiki Energy Healing, Intuitive Life Coaching, Hypnotherapy, and Raja Yoga Meditation, for both individuals and couples. She is the author of Mornings with the Masters: Mystical Journeys in a Postmodern World, Exodus 2012: A Mission to Save the Earth and Aging Well~Be Your Best Self Forever!.