Last year I wrote 11 Ways to Stay Ridiculously Happy in Marriage, on our eleventh anniversary, and since this weekend my sweet Chad and I will be hitting the twelve year mark, I thought it only appropriate to write 12 ways to stay happily married…according to Tiffany. Of course, every relationship is different, and in different seasons of ups or downs or comfortableness. I just don’t want you to think, that I think, I have all the answers for every marriage everywhere. These are just some of the things I’ve learned over the past 12 years, and I think we have a pretty fantastic marriage! I miss him when he’s gone, and I’m happy when we are together. He is still my best friend, and I think after 12 years, that’s saying something, so here are 12 things I’ve learned over the past 12 years. Some of these things are repeats from last year, but have been oh so important in our relationship.
12 Ways to Stay Happily Married
1. Your problems are your problems.
Everyone knows how good it feels to vent to a friend and feel validation for your feelings. It’s great to have a fiercely loyal friend or family member to take your side whenever you need them, but this is not the person to take your marriage problems to! I know from watching other people’s marriages fall apart that this is such a big factor. I have had friends and family members who have had problems as small as money disagreements to full blown affairs, and have went to their friends and family for a shoulder to cry on. Those friends will do one of two things with that information, keep it to themselves and completely hate the spouse for all the hurt they caused their friend, or tell everyone else so that a full on army hates the spouse for the hurt they caused the friend. Then if the couple decides to work through the problem, well good luck getting all of the people that know about the hurt get on board with being happy with your spouse again!
When there is a problem in your marriage, talk to one another about it, or if necessary, a trained unbiased professional. Do not talk to your sister, mom, BFF’s, coworkers etc, trying to get validation, because if you are looking for validation, you’ll get it. Then that makes a problem no matter how small, or how big a whole lot bigger!
This has been a hard year for my hubby and I, and sometimes it was all I could do to not want to call my sister or sister in law and talk to them about everything that I was feeling, but I didn’t. And while if we could go back in time and fix the problems before they became problems, we absolutely would, I know that all the talking, crying, and working through these problems have made us just that much closer. I know this is because we did it together, and we kept our problems, our problems.
2. Talk about your spouse with adoration when you’re apart.
On the opposite side of not talking bad about your spouse you should absolutely talk good about your spouse! When you get together with your friends and “husband bashing” begins, as it always inevitably does, you can still talk and laugh at all the funny things your hubby’s all do, but be sure to keep it light and superficial. Then be sure to lay on the compliments and adoration really thick! Make sure everyone you know, knows how much you are in love with the man you married. You don’t have to brag, or try to one-up your friends, but if you make them a little jealous because they can see you’re still like a twitterpated teenager when it comes to your husband, that is only a good thing. I know when I do this with my friends, they always jump in with all the reasons they love their men too, and then I just want to go home and kiss the hottie waiting for me.
I have to say that one of my very best friend’s husband is so good at this (Jaime, our fashionista here)! Whenever I talk to him, he just talks about her like he is the luckiest man alive, (he really might be), and just can’t believe she’s with him. In a cartoon he would have hearts instead of eyeballs whenever he sees her, talks about her or thinks about her, which I think is pretty much all the time. It makes me want other people to know that I feel the same way about Chad, and is a real inspiration.
3. Brag about your spouse when you’re together.
I might act like I don’t love it, but I totally do, my husband is always telling people how talented, organized, and wonderful I am, while I am standing right there. Sure it’s a little embarrassing to have him singing my praises, but it also makes me feel so loved and appreciated. I brag my husband up all the time, because he is pretty dang fantastic! He is a hard worker, a phenomenal daddy, brilliant, hysterical, he helps me constantly, he serves me, he always opens my car door…you get the idea. When you’re with friends or family, brag it up! Share news about how great they are doing at work, in school, how they melt your heart when they put the baby to bed, how amazing they are for always doing the dishes…whatever they are doing or done that has made you proud to call them your better half.
4. Intimacy Rules
This one is for the ladies: Last year I said to say yes more than no, and you would not believe all the comments I received…and then deleted! A lot of women felt like I meant that you should have intimate relations even if you didn’t want to, just to make your man happy. That is not what I meant at all, so I want to make it clear this year! If your spouse comes to you wanting to get frisky and you’re not in that place, see if you can get in that place. Honestly, most of the times when I, and I have a feeling I’m not the only one, say no or push him away, I just have a lot of other things on my mind, or on my to-do list, and sex is not at the top of that list. If I take a second and think; is what I’m doing more important than spending time showing my husband love? Most of the time the answer is no, and I can get to that place a lot more often. We all know the benefits of good sex right? Our husbands are more willing to do things for us (so that to-do list can actually get done faster if you take a time out), you feel closer to one another, you’re both happier, and of course you can burn some serious calories. So if you can say yes, by all means say it, or better yet initiate it and see how happy it can make that man you married.
Men, I know it can be frustrating to have your wife’s mind going a million miles a minute and not thinking about ripping your clothes off every hour of every day. All I can say is, don’t take it personally, and I mean this in all seriousness, it’s true when we say, “it’s not you, it’s me.” Hopefully, we can calm our minds enough that we can be better about putting you first a couple more times a week. 😉 I’m talking to my husband here, it’s not because I find you revolting, or fat or gross, it’s because my mind is somewhere else. I find you hot, sexy as all get out and completely the opposite of gross.
5. Romance Still Counts
It is so easy to just sit down at the end of the day and watch all the shows on your DVR marathon style every night of the week. Trust me, we fall into that ALL THE TIME. It’s hard with him working more than full time most weeks, me trying to run a household where four crazy children are here 24-7 demanding things like eating and bathing and help with their schooling (oh yeah, I’m their teacher) to want to do anything but veg when dinner is over. But romance is still so important, to let the other person know that you are thinking about them can mean the world. It doesn’t have to be grand gestures of love all the time (though I do so appreciate grandness!). Little things like a text message saying you’re missing them, or thinking about them, grabbing a treat you know they love when you’re out shopping, or carving their name into the side of a rock at the beach can all be romantic gestures to remind your spouse that you still think they are the bees knees. 🙂
6. Hold Hands
Even if you do sit in front of the TV every night, make sure you are holding hands doing it. I said this last year, and I feel like it is one of the most important things we do. We hold hands every chance we get. In the car, at the store, when we’re out at dinner waiting for our meals, at the movies, in bed at night, we are holding hands. Touch is so important, I heard somewhere that you should touch your spouse in a loving way (not necessarily a sexual way) at least 5 times a day. If you are constantly holding hands then you are definitely getting your touches in. Also take time to hug, kiss, put your arm around and anything else to get your touches in, and really be aware of that. I know some days as a mom I am touched out with all the kids constantly needing my touch, but I know how important it is to constantly be touching him as well.
7. If Adventure Presents itself…Take it!
As previously said, it’s easy to fall into the routine of doing nothing. That’s why if there is an opportunity to break the routine and have a little adventure, take it! It could be as ordinary as a fall festival downtown that sounds kinda fun, to an offer to go up in your brother in law’s helicopter for the afternoon. When we go on little adventures together. either alone or as a family, I have never regretted them. I know we love to go out and see what kind of fun things our area has to offer, which makes us appreciate where we live more and also helps us break out of the ordinary. It keeps our relationship stronger when we are doing exciting things together. One of the best benefits is that it gives us lot’s more to talk about then what we thought about the latest episode of The Mindy Project…
The most important thing I’ve learned in my marriage, is that it’s not about me. I didn’t marry Chad to make me happy, but oh how he does make me happy, but I really married him to make him happy. I want to do everything I can to see him happy. When I put him first, a funny thing happens…he puts me first and vice versa. I hope this is the same in your marriage. I know when we forget about our own happiness, and focus on the happiness of one another, the joy that I get back is way better than any joy I could get by demanding my own happiness first.
When planning dates, plan them for your spouse. When making dinner, make it for your spouse. When getting dressed, get dressed for your spouse. Every time I focus on myself and my own expectations of the relationship or my own happiness in life, that’s when I am most unhappy, and sometimes even depressed. When you focus on those things, you start looking at negatives instead of positives. The positives no matter how much they outweigh the negatives start getting pushed aside and the negatives win. Every time. Put your spouse’s happiness first and you both win.
9. Don’t be too selfless
My husband LOVES cars, and everything about them. He loves looking at them when we’re out and about, he loves fixing them up, he loves looking for new projects on Craig’s List, he loves watching shows about them (anyone else have a Top Gear junkie out there?) and he loves talking about them. Me? My eyes gloss over and I start thinking about how I really need a pedicure, or I wonder if Target has anything new since yesterday.
I love to go shopping pretty much anywhere, and walking around downtown with a warm beverage and no agenda pretty much sounds like a perfect afternoon. Once in a great while I get my wish and we get to just window shop. When that happens I can see Chad turn from literally the nicest guy on the planet to the grinch right before my eyes. If I don’t want to buy anything, why are we there? He just can’t understand the motivation behind “just looking.”
So yes, while we need to be selfless, at least most of the time, if you have things that only you enjoy and your spouse really can’t get on board with them…it’s not always best to force the issue. I mean, I can’t really enjoy shopping when someone is rolling their eyes and sighing heavily every time I turn a corner, and I know he can’t honestly enjoy telling me about the newest, fastest car while I stare through him or pick up my phone to start perusing Pinterest for pedicure ideas. We need to have things that we enjoy without our spouses.
Luckily he has a good friend that he can text back and forth ads from Craig’s List, talk about why Britian’s Top Gear is better than America’s, and laugh about the guy who tried to go mudding in the Honda Civic, or whatever they’re laughing about. And me? I can call a girl friend any old time, with pretty much anyone I call will also think that strolling downtown with a pumpkin steamer in hand with no plans but talking and looking will also think that sounds like a perfect plan.
10. Make Plans
One of our favorite things to do is sit down with graph paper after looking at a house and figure out how we would “fix-it”. When I say make plans, I’m not talking about making house plans, but in our case this works for us. These are the things we would do to make a house our home if we ended up purchasing it. We also love to plan vacations, even if we aren’t sure when we will be able to take them. It’s a good way to talk about things, finances, kids growing up, life changes and other things we wouldn’t necessarily talk about. Making plans is always a good way for us to look to the future and see that we will be there together. I love looking into the future with this man.
11. Think about the End Goal
Along with making plans, I always like to look at the end goal. Where do I want to be in our relationship when we are old and rocking on the front porch? This is the man I will spend my whole life and beyond with. He is the one that will still be here when the kids are grown and on their own. He is the one that will still be here. I like to think about that when I am talking to my kids about things. I know they will always be my babies and that I will always love them with a fierceness that can’t be replaced, but they will move on and move out. Chad and I have to be a team on all things and not let our kids or anything else drive wedges between us that will leave us trying to figure out things when we are on our own. It’s important for us to put our relationship with one another before being parents, friends, siblings or anything else. We have to be united if we still want to be holding hands on that porch of the future. That’s the goal. I like to think of it often and remember that this is the most important relationship on earth to me.
12. Say I Love You More
We say I love you a lot. A lot. A lot. A lot. I don’t think we can say it enough. Saying it and showing it all the time help me make it through the moments that I start to doubt. When we disagree on things I know that saying I love you rather than something hurtful can prevent a fight and start a discussion instead. When we can’t say I love you during the day, we are texting it. If I drop him off at work he turns around and gives me the sign for I love you. We never go to bed without saying it.
I am so ridiculously in love with this man I married 12 years ago and I don’t want to take for granted one moment I have with him. He has made me happier than I knew I could be. He makes me laugh to the point of crying, and when I’m crying he makes me laugh more. My hand feels lonely without his in it, and I feel like they were made to fit together. He is my heart, and I couldn’t be more happy with my decision to say yes all those years ago.