Originally Posted: Monday, February 7th, 2022
Today is my 18th wedding anniversary. –Wow, where did the time go?- I remember being a 20 year old bride on my wedding day and just hoping that my new husband and I can have a happy marriage. Little did I know you need rules for a happy marriage to make it this far!!
It’s no big secret that happy marriages take work. They take boundaries, patience, trust, and communication!
I have a wonderful husband who helps me thrive, and has helped me learn what a stable, loving, and healthy relationship is.
This article tells you our healthy relationship rules we apply to make our marriage a happy and healthy one so we could create a beautiful life together.
It will help you get perspective to do the work in your own relationship, and make changes to reach the goal of a lasting healthier relationship.
Rules for a Happy Marriage to Create a Beautiful Life Together
The goal of a happy marriage is to enjoy your life together, love each other unconditionally, support one another, –in sickness and in health, and even when you’re mad- and to create a new strong family unit. These rules for a happy marriage have helped me -and my husband- to grow in love and intimacy. We’re have a stronger and healthier relationship because of them.
We each get our own life and a life together.
When you get married, there is a fairy tale that you will live one life as a couple from that moment on.
Toss that out the window. Embrace your unique individuality and bring that to your marriage.
You get to have your own life AND your joined life with your spouse. Yes, some changes will be made to your own personal life, but you can still have a life that is yours.
You can still make time for your friends, hobbies, family, and more!
The great thing about doing things separately is that there are always new stories and experiences to share!
Example: My husband is a military man. There is a time-honored tradition that when a soldier gets promoted, he buys the first round of drinks at the bar. Bars are not my thing. But my husband supports his unit and attends fun things like this.
He has friends outside our marriage, as do I.
I support his right to do things without me -and he supports me as well-. I will pick him up so he doesn’t have to take a cab home. I will offer to bake goodies for his co-worker to show my support despite my absence. And we share the story of the events and we get to bond.
Then you have your life with your spouse.
You have activities that you both enjoy, friends that you both love, places you love to go together, and little moments to build and create intimacy and memories.
What makes a happy marriage is that you are both bringing bits of your life to it, and it gives you experience to help you thrive when you have conflict or hardship.
Making this one of the most important rules for a happy marriage. Bringing what makes you unique is what can help build your healthy relationship, keeping it fun, fresh, and amazing.
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We respect each other’s boundaries.
When you share a life, a household, and yes, a bed; you can really get on each other’s nerves! -I think about the early years after the honeymoon phase ended. We really were rubbing each other’s nerves raw some days.- There are days that you just cannot seem to get along.
After 18 years, there are still days where I just want to be left alone despite my husband’s best attempts to make me feel better.
Of all the rules of a happy marriage, this is one you should NEVER break.
Setting and respecting boundaries is the most important rule for a happy marriage.
When your partner sets a boundary, respect it. -This is not to be confused with doing as you’re told, but healthy limits.-
Example: I LOVE dogs. I would have a few dozen if I wouldn’t get in trouble for being a dog hoarder. My husband’s current limit is three dogs. We discuss each dog prior to adoption, even though the dogs are essentially mine. It’s not that I need his permission, but I am respecting his needs to choose what dogs he interacts with daily. We make this decision together so our joined life can be happier and healthier.
Example: I have PTSD. I have had it long before I met my husband. I cannot sleep well because of it. When I am having a PTSD flair up, my husband asks me what I need and does just that. If I need silence and to be left alone, he makes it happen. If I need to leave my home to take a trip to recenter and heal, he takes time off to take care of things at home. He respects when I cannot tolerate touch, and I need my space. He helps me feel secure when I am feeling vulnerable by respecting my needs.
Healthy boundaries can include: saying no to sex, being home at a descent hour, keeping volume or lights low so your partner can sleep, respecting work hours, respecting privacy, telling spouse of intent prior to large decisions, asking for spouse’s opinion on decisions that will affect you both, etc.
You and your partner should discuss your boundaries and how you’d like to approach situation before you encounter them.
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We learned each other’s Love Language.
When you date someone, you go to great lengths to show your partner how much you love and adore them. It gives us dopamine!
And despite him living less than 2 miles from work, he would drive 22 miles to pick me up and take us to work so he could spend more time with me. He was speaking right to my heart, and I fell hard!
After our marriage, our lives and priorities changed. We no longer had the carefree life of single people. We had commitment, a marriage. Something that you need to tend to to keep it.
Those first few years of marriage were challenging.
Our family entered into military life and moved across the globe. It was just us, with very little support available.
And we got pregnant during our first year of marriage. And we all know how a baby, even a very wanted and loved one, throws turmoil into the mix for first time parents.
We needed a lot of fine tuning in our new roles and struggled to find our new rhythm.
We thought were filling each other’s marriage cup, but we weren’t quite showing love the way each other needed to thrive in our new roles.
We both had grown and changed. Our love languages changed with us.
We needed to learn how to show love to each other again.
Enter this amazing book! I discovered this book when my therapist recommended it to me and my husband.
It turns out that we were showing each other love, but not in the way we perceived as loving. My husband was showing me he loved me by doing things for me when I wanted him to give me undivided attention.
I was showing my husband my love by spending time with him when all he wanted was for me to make help make his life easier so he could take his own self care time, and also make time for me.
He is an “Acts of Service” man, and I am a “Quality Time/Words of Affirmation” woman.
This book helped us both learn how to appreciate other ways to show love, and learn to communicate how we would like to be loved.
Bonus: it helped me learn how I like to be loved best and has improved my self care plan!
Fast forward to today: I now do odd jobs at home so he can have more free time to spend practicing self care for himself, and spending time relaxing with me.
And he makes time for one on ones and conversation with me.
We adapted and are thriving now thanks to this book! Find your love language with the official quiz!
You can read more about love languages in Gary Chapman’s Book: The 5 Love Languages The Secret to Love that Lasts.
Trust me, it will change your outlook on how to love your spouse and yourself, and make this rule for a happy marriage a piece of cake.
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We create time for each other.
Life is so busy, and it is so easy to just give less at home. You’re so worn out from work or being with the kids all day, it’s hard to give to your partner.
There are kids, busy jobs, exercise, stress, and then life also throws curve balls to you –like having to buy new tires when all you wanted to do was have a romantic anniversary getaway… don’t worry, we still had an amazing day!-
My husband and I make time for one another despite these things.
Little efforts create huge results for a happy marriage! And we make the most of those few minutes.
- We go on grocery store dates even though one person would be more efficient.
- I drive him to and from the train station so we can talk before and after his day.
- I don’t blog on days he takes off so we can do activities together.
- We go to bed at 9pm and talk, cuddle, and play “Stardew Valley” until we sleep.
- We take off as many birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and just because days as we can. And not to get more chores done, but to appreciate each other and refresh our bond as a couple.
Our happy marriage thrives on these little interactions. This is one of our favorite rules for a happy marriage as it allows us to be excited for one another without a big occassion!
We talk about our goals, both individual and shared.
When you merge your life with someone, it’s nice to know that you’re both on the same page.
My hubby and I frequently talk about goals.
We talk about what he wants to do career wise in the military -a in a few years, his retirement from the military… YIKES!!- and what he wants in his life.
I talk about what I would like to work on with my mental health, my hobbies, how I want to have a career in blogging, and my pups, of course!
And then we talk about our mutual goals: finances, home ownership soon, major purchases, and much more.
Life as a couple goes so much more smoother when you’re working toward your goals with a plan.
We learned better conflict resolution and communication skills.
We have a huge rule in our home: yelling is for danger only. And if one of us wins, we both lose.
We get mad; and get frustrated, and we even have slept apart; but we always sit down and talk it out when our nerves have settled.
There is no blame game.
I make mistakes and so does he. And we both ask for feedback so we can do better next time.
And in times where we couldn’t see eye to eye, we have sought the help of a therapist to help guide us on our path.
A happy marriage and healthy relationship takes work, even when you’re angry and hurt. No good comes from losing your temper and saying something that you can never take back.
And when push comes to shove, we set it all aside and become the dream team again! Yes, even when we are mad at each other.
And when we work it out, we leave it in the past. There is no point in bringing up past mistakes of your partner when they are trying to do better. None of us like to reminded of how we messed up.
Leave pasts mistakes in the past, and you can start working toward the future with less baggage.
We celebrate small victories.
I am relatively new to being a working woman. My blog at a month old made $0.36, and I was over the moon. What does my hubby do when I tell him the news? He congratulates me and we soft high five!
When my husband had hip surgery in 2016, we slept on the sleeper sofa for a month. On the day that they cleared him to climb the stairs, I shared his triumph on Facebook and cheered him on!
When one of us gets good news, we pick up ice cream from the store on the way home. We even take it up to bed and watch Netflix!
We buy flowers for each other when we’re proud of one another.
We swap game cards to show we care.
We don’t take a moment for granted. We’re not guaranteed another one.
Small victories allow us to cheer one another on and show our support for one another.
Showing support for your spouse helps them feel you appreciate them. Spouses that feel loved and appreciated will reciprocate it!
We don’t do 50/50, but do this instead.
There is no division of labor in our home. We work together to get things done.
We do not assign tasks to a certain gender -remember when cooking was “women’s work” and lawn care and vehicle maintenance was a “man’s job”-.
What we do instead is create a master chore list, and just check tasks off as we accomplish it. Working toward a common goal, a clean home, has us working as a team.
Some days my husband can give 75% and I can do 25%. Other days I can give 98% and he can do 2%. We both prefer certain tasks, but we both give what we can that day.
On his bad days, I do more; and on mine, he does.
That may include hiring help, helping each other accomplish a single task, recruiting friends and family to help, or one spouse doing more to help ease the burden of the other.
We work together to make our life work so we can have a happy marriage.
We are just two adults taking care of our home and lives together. –Because teamwork makes the dream work!-
We both adapt to grow in our marriage.
Change is scary, and many of us feel that change is bad.
But change is what can help us grow if we allow it.
My husband, I swear, is a Saint. He has adapted to my PTSD, my ADHD, life with a service dog, and he is working in the military, which isn’t really known for being 9-5.
I have adapted to his injured hip, his long-lasting effects of Covid, his crazy military career that moves us every few years as well as can take him to far-off places while I worry at home.
We frequently ask for feedback on how we can both improve.
Whether we ask for communication clarification, how to love each other better, or expressing what we need in our marriage; we are learning to grow in our marriage.
We both have learned to take life’s little surprises and tackle them together by choosing to grow together instead of choosing to grow apart.
We don’t quit when things get ugly.
There was one time I asked my husband if my mental illnesses were too much for him to handle. It was at the height of my depression and anxiety. I wanted him to have a happier life, even if it wasn’t with me.
And what he told me flabbergasted me.
He said “I would rather be miserable with you instead of happy with someone else. We’re in this together and we’re going to fight it together.”
He saved me that day. He inspired me to fight for myself, but for him as well. I wanted a happy marriage for him.
And that’s what we do now. This rule for a happy marriage keeps us fighting for each other instead of just throwing away a wonderful relationship.
When we don’t see eye to eye, we have a joke we say: You said yes, now you’re stuck with me. And we both end up laughing.
I remember a conversation we had before we wed about what we wanted for our marriage.
We wanted not just a love, but a best friend. Our goal was for this marriage to work and last. That takes effort.
Divorce wasn’t to be thrown around just because we upset one another.
We wanted a happy marriage that would last. -Remember on “Friends” when Rachel and Ross were on a break? And that is a point of contention for them in their relationship from that moment on. Yeah, we didn’t want that.-
Marriage is not something you take a break from, and come back to when you’re ready.
A truly committed and happy marriage is two people fighting together to make it work.
That is the secret of a long happy marriage: becoming a dream team.
These Rules for a Happy Marriage Helped Us Reach Our 18th Wedding Anniversary
A happy marriage or even relationship is two unique individuals who are working to make it last.
Think about all your long-term friendships. It’s not one sided, it’s two people enjoying each other company and making it work.
But with marriage, you live together and love together. You share pain and happiness.
I know with my marriage; I am always learning and growing to I can be the best wife and friend for my hubby. I am so thankful to have a partner who is supportive and loving.
Here is to 18 years and many more!!
Tell me your own rules for a happy marriage in the comments! I can’t wait to hear how you are making it work!!
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Happy belated wedding anniversary! Here’s to many more! I live hearing from couples who have been married a long time. Thanks for sharing what has worked for you two.
Many people don’t know the value of the person that they have by their side. I’m lucky to share my life with someone that worth more than words can express. Thanks!
Agreed! A good supportive person can make your life so joyous.
That was fantastic. Thanks for sharing.
Congratulations on 18 years! This is so beautifully written and these are such valuable lessons for every relationship!
Great post! I am only 2 years in!
I love everything about this post. You offer so many great thoughts. Many things I take for granted that make up our happy marriage. Things you just don’t even think about. Thank you for pointing all of these things out so that I am more appreciative.
What a sweet post! I love your point about celebrating the small victories. My husband and I do the same, and it’s such a meaningful thing. Taking care to cultivate our close relationships is so important for creating a foundation for wellbeing in other areas of our lives 🙂
Love this! So importnat to nurture these things in a marriage. Marriage is work, but it is worth it.
These are some beautiful marriage tips! You and your hubbie look like you’re still in love (congrats to almost 20 years)! I use some of the same tips in my marriage (married 6 years, together 8 years) and they really work for a successful marriage!
Congratulations. My secret is trusting and sharing every thought good or bad with my partner.
Reading an article like this honestly makes me tear up a bit. I feel so weakhearted sometimes. I hope to one day have your strength. Thank you for sharing your marriage rules, I’ll be saving this 🙂
Awww! This made me
Congratulations on 18! Being married to a best friend is so awesome. Celebrating 25 years in 2022.
This is such a beautiful post! These are all fantastic points, especially not quitting when things are getting ugly! It’s so much easier to walk away than to communicate and work as a team to conquer and overcome obstacles. Thank you for sharing!
I thoroughly appreciated this. You make me want to go out and find myself a husband. It is certainly too difficult to choose my favorite rule. But definitely the being friends with each other definitely was my takeaway to meditate on.
He is 100% my best friend and I want to share everything with him first.
Congratulations! You make a beautiful couple. Everything you listed above are important elements for a happy, healthy marriage. Thanks for sharing.