With me and my husband's anniversary coming up, I've been thinking a lot about our marriage. We've had ups and downs like every relationship does, but today I want to focus on the five things that I believe lead to a HAPPY marriage.
I'm not an expert. However, I'm starting to notice the things that have made my marriage happier. I came up with a little acronym using the word HAPPY to help myself remember them and I thought I'd share it with you guys!
Honest, open, and consistent communication is vital to keeping a marriage happy. Communication is one of the most fundamental building blocks for any healthy relationship. Always tell your spouse how things make you feel. It makes me feel so good when my husband opens up to me about something. Try to use lots of "I" statements, such as, "I feel ____ when I hear/see/know you do ____" Don't point fingers, but don't expect them to read your mind either. The best way to resolve conflict is by talking things through. If you're like my husband and I you might feel even closer after you've talked things out and can understand what the other person is feeling.
This one is HUGE. Matthew thrives on appreciation. If you know anything about the 5 love languages written by Gary Chapman, and Words of Affirmation, you'll know why. This is his dominant love language. It's not mine, however, I'm starting to realize just how powerful words of appreciation can be. Since becoming a mother, I've yearned for this appreciation. I want my husband, or anyone at all, to acknowledge all of the hard work I am doing everyday to raise our child. I want him to tell me how important my role as a mother is, even if I already know that in my heart, it's still something I want to hear. Appreciate the little things that your spouse does for you. Say thank you, and say it often. The smallest token of gratitude can go a long way.
It's important to remember that everyone is on a journey of progression, especially in a marriage. Support each other in that progression. Set goals, discuss dreams, and encourage each other to reach them! Work together as a team. Compliment each other in your roles and take turns being strong.
Always work on improving your relationship in some form. Some days I'll tell myself, "Okay, Cheree. Today try your best to show Matthew your appreciation." or, "Today I'm working on being positive and cheerful so that Matthew feels less stressed when he gets home from work." This is part of my personal progression to help strengthen my marriage. I'm not always good at it, but when I make the conscious effort I feel happier.
Another thought on progression I have is about starting a family. I believe strongly that a lot of our progress as a couple has come since Turner was born. Starting a family has not only helped us learn new things about ourselves, but has brought us more joy than we had ever imagined was possible.
Now, before you get uncomfortable, let me explain. I've noticed that my marriage is happiest when I am trying to please, or serve, my husband. When I focus on him instead of myself, our relationship flourishes! Try to fill their needs, emotionally and physically, especially if you know they are having a stressful day. Sometimes I find myself thinking needful thoughts such as, "Ugh. I wish he would watch the baby so I could go shopping/be with my friends/relax." Not only am I feeling a need, I'm not sharing it with him and still expecting him to do something about it. So stupid! Don't do it, guys. It will only make you more upset and confuse your spouse for having NO idea why you're upset. Let your spouse know what your needs are and you'll both be happier for it!
Now for the physical part. If your spouse comes to you seeking some intimacy, try your best to fill that need. It takes courage to be an initiator, and rejection only makes them less likely to do it again. LOVE them, especially when they are asking for LOVE.
This one was kind of a stretch. There aren't very many descriptive words that start with a Y, but I'm using it anyway!
Marriage should be a constant celebration. Celebrate each other and your time together! Keep dating after you get married. Nourish your relationship just like you did before you were married. Celebrate the big anniversaries and the small victories! We've started to celebrate when we meet a savings goal, or when Matthew passes a class. Use any excuse to celebrate. More than that, be an advocate for your relationship. Focus on the positive. Have an attitude that you can accomplish anything together. Praise each other. Root for and cheer each other on. Be your partner's biggest fan. Nothing makes me feel more loved than knowing my husband believes in me.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed my personal steps to a HAPPY marriage! What other things have you noticed make your marriage a joyful one?