It was my ninth wedding anniversary on Monday, and I thought what better time to share what works for me in creating a happy marriage. I am not an expert on relationships, but I am an expert on my relationship.
I love to hear other women’s ideas because, even if our situations are not the same, there are always takeaways for me to use. I hope you enjoy my ideas and get some good tips out of them too.
1. Choose the right person. This sounds so obvious, but it is the most important factor in a happy marriage. I feel lucky that I had a test-run with my first marriage, so by the time I met Paul, the love of my life when I was 32, I knew what I was looking for. Don’t get me wrong, I did not enter into my first marriage lightly and it was not my choice to end it, but I made the most of the situation and decided that I was going to meet the right guy for me.
To help me choose the right person, as a down-hearted divorcee at 29, I wrote out all the attributes I was looking for in my man. He was to be spiritual, a non-smoker, animal lover, kind, handsome, stylish and many other things. I re-read that list periodically and knew he was out there, waiting to meet me.
More than two years later he showed up and I knew it was him in a couple of ways. Firstly, we had the same birthday. A friend had told me previously that coincidences are the signposts to let you know you are heading in the right direction through life. When he said what his birthday was, my first thought was ‘Ooh, that’s a big coincidence, I should take note’. Secondly, I had a voice say to me, the night we met when we were chatting; it said, ‘It’s you’ when Paul was speaking. I played it cool though and did not propose marriage or anything like that.
Only a few months ago I showed my husband the ‘dream man’ list I’d written seventeen years ago – yes I still have it! He was astounded as he read through the list – ‘this is me!’ he kept saying. Spooky but cool, huh?
2. Be you. I’m sure you’ve done it when you were younger, I certainly have: moulding yourself to suit another. Liking what they like and not showing parts of yourself that you think they might not think is cool. How can someone decide if they really like you if you aren’t showing them your true self?
When Paul and I met, of course I wanted to show my feminine side and be ladylike, but I also didn’t hide anything. Even if it wasn’t cool to knit, have cats and be a homebody, I didn’t care. I liked my romance novels and I was easily scared. I loved spreadsheets and financial stuff and I also laughed at toilet humour and dumb movies.
I didn’t let it all hang out thinking he should love me for who I am, but neither did I try to present a perfect two-dimensional image to woo him. If anything, I caught his heart by telling him that I did not play games. To this day, we both cannot stand even the tiniest amount of discord. If there is something hanging over us, we have to clear it. Communication is so important in any relationship whether it’s your marriage, friends or family members. You should be able to bring up anything to talk through and resolve it without fear of it turning into a big argument. Because we talk all the time, there is never anything big. We never argue because we both value a peaceful, easy-going and drama-free life.
3. Invest in your marriage. The most important person in the world to me is Paul, and I would put him ahead of anyone else if it came to it. I know he would for me as well. There is something so comforting in knowing that someone has your back.
Other important factors I choose to practice:
Being considerate of his feelings
Keeping his confidence and not sharing information with others that is private
Consulting with him on invitations and the week’s plans if I feel it is necessary
Focusing on his good points
Sharing my dreams and goals with him
Might I add that he does all these things as well. The consideration goes both ways.
Having shared interests and experiences are great too. The holidays we have taken, strange day trips and fun outings, even movies seen together all build up a strong memory bank which is fun to look back on. When you remember the good times you’ve had and how nice it was to get away together, this is like love-glue in my opinion – as unattractive as love-glue sounds :)
4. Keep on growing. At the same time as investing in my marriage, I won’t sacrifice myself. I am my own person with my own point of view, thoughts, interests and goals. The big goals are our goals, and we talk about them regularly. I also have personal goals to do with my health, my writing and our home, etc.
There is a balance in giving your all to a relationship without smothering the other. I believe that enriching yourself through personal development, pursuing your interests and trying new things are all good for your relationship; providing, of course, that you don’t take it so far that your other half never sees you.
‘Proximity’ is a big factor in attraction and happiness, or so I learned in the psychology paper I took back in the day. You have to spend time with the one you love; shocking, I know. Movie stars who have separate projects on opposite sides of the world and never see each other end up divorcing because they have ‘grown apart’. Of course they have, they couldn’t not.
And those my friends, are my four top tips on what makes our relationship happy.
You might agree or disagree with my points, but they are what works for me. I’d love to hear what you have learned over the years (what to do or not do) and also what you would consider your number one tip for a happy relationship.
Have you ever written a love list like mine? I’d heartily recommend it if not. If you have, how did it turn out?
Have a wonderful week!
PS. Check out my guest post on new blog An Organized Life, started by the supremely motivating Lauren (this is her Instagram page, her home is so tidy and orderly!).
I write about how I organize my writing and blogging. If you write or blog, I’d love to hear what you think!