Gratitude is the heart's memory.

~ French Proverb ~

21 Great Ways to Have a Happy Marriage

June 23rd, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 5 mins, 44 secs

What does it take to have a happy marriage?

Having been in a wonderfully happy marriage for 30 years, I want to share 21 tips to a happy marriage to help you in your own relationship. Most likely, some suggestions will resonate and some won’t. That’s fine. Add what you like to your existing wisdom (because, no doubt, you already know a lot).

Admittedly, tips on marriage can appear trite at the best of times (because life is infinitely more complicated in practice). But if anything here helps you in your own marriage journey, it will be a privilege to have helped you…

1. Listen Without Expectation This goes to the heart of all communication and is the hidden secret of a happy marriage. The more you and your partner listen to each other for what you’re both saying and not saying, the more you insulate your love. Listen daily and give it priority. Then combine your listening with assuming less and asking more to see the difference it makes. None of us are particularly brilliant listeners, so it takes effort. But the rewards good listening brings to your marriage and happiness are phenomenal.

2. Accept Difference When people say you can’t change him, they’re right. By accepting more and judging less you create the climate for a good marriage. So instead of breaking your partner in to suit you, focus on their existing strengths. Try learning to like what you cannot change and life will get even better.

3. Keep Yourself Fresh Nobody wants to marry their clone. So consider keeping yourselves distinct. Along with loving the things you have in common you can also celebrate those individual features that attracted you in the first place. If the key to a happy marriage is appreciation, then bringing your uniqueness to the relationship can keep it exciting.

4. Grace vs. Fault Even the biggest bust up is practice to find fresh ways to grow. Viewed this way, it’s not the size of the failing but the scope of your grace that decides how things work out. At the very least, give yourself time to process matters beyond heat of your emotions.

5. Surf  the CoupleNet Practice the art of the endless conversation. Talk to each other about what your think and feel, making sure to explore your partner’s thoughts, dreams, and everything. At times conversation will get dry. That’s natural enough. But there’s always more to discover if you keep surfing life together.

6. Keep Peeling the Onion Communication, like onions, has layers. Couples who recognize the importance of layered conversation understand there is:

  • Informational talk (that deals with all the practical stuff of life)
  • Idea talk (about your plans, hopes, and dreams), and
  • Emotional talk (which is the language of intimacy, honesty, and identity)

A happy marriage allows for each and the need to move through information and ideas to trigger intimacy.

7. Exercise Kindness A happy marriage thrives on kindness. Yet it seems that this is seldom spoken of. Talk it up. Find it in others, and live it for yourself. If you want to keep marriage functional, kindness will smooth over many a messy moment.

8. Manners Matter As surprising and old-fashioned as it may seem, good manners count, no matter how close you are to each other. “Please” and “thank you” say, “I appreciate you” and reminds you your lover is not a conscript but a volunteer.

9. Work It Relationship takes effort and a good marriage demands it. Is it reasonable to expect that you’ll never have challenges? If not, be prepared to graciously face your conflicts – that’s the kind of work it takes.

10. Be Brave Say what you think with all the honesty you can muster. But never let your honesty be an excuse for insensitivity and abuse. Say what you feel with care.

11. You Say Goodbye and I Say Hello It’s in the little things that life is mostly lived. So take the time to keep traditions like saying hello when you reunite and goodbye when you go. A kiss, a look, and a lingering touch make a world of difference in the unfolding of daily life. Though it takes effort at times to do it, little gestures of tenderness help to shape a day.

12. Stand By Your Man (and Woman) Never put your partner down in public, and always demonstrate loyalty amongst company. If someone berates your partner be there for them, even if you don’t agree.

13. If I Only Had Time A happy marriage allows each of you to have space to potter about in your own space. Everybody needs room to be apart to pursue an interest, meet different people, or simply be free from responsibility for at least a moment or two. Giving each other freedom, and encouraging variety keep marriage dynamic as you each bring fresh experiences to your relationship.

14. Share Without Reservation There is nothing you cannot share in a happy marriage. So go ahead and invest in as much time together as you can. Time out now and then is good. But find your balance with lots of common interests, relaxing, working, and having fun together. Life has a tendency to pull couples apart with different demands (like jobs, responsibilities, and social demands). So actively plan time together and preserve your couplehood as much as you can.

15. Build a Nest Wherever you live, make a place of your own that you both can share. Every couple needs a place where they can belong, even if it’s as simple as a place to put shared possessions. So whether it’s basic or elaborate, work on making your nest a place of comfort and retreat. Because every couple needs a safe place to call home.

16. Play Connect Every good relationship ties in with others and a happy marriage is no different. Couplehood that integrates with friends and family is a stronger marriage for the association.

17. Accept Your Projects Relationship isn’t neat. Every marriage has its struggles and sore points so you can expect yours to be the same. Though it can be the source of a lot of pain, don’t expect to solve your special problem any time soon. Rather, a good marriage copes with the hurt and carries on regardless. Not to bury the problem, but to see it as just a part of life that a future of love can resolve.

18. Relax, It’s Okay A good way to keep marriage calm is simply to peg back. Stop the tendency to hyperventilate and many problems become easier to handle. Practice keeping your cool and avoid the temptation to scream and shout. That way, you won’t do damage that you never intended.

19. Flex For Success Many an argument starts from next to nothing and gets inflamed by hard-headedness. A secret of a happy marriage? Be ye flexible. Schedules muck up? Adapt. Difference of opinion? Adjust. The key is to soften on what really doesn’t matter much anyway and know when sticking to your point is worth the trouble. Most often, it’s not.

20. Best We Forget Yes, shrug your shoulders and forget the things that cause you distress. Many little niggles are just that: little. Let them go before they flare up into something serious. You aren’t perfect either, so why expect your partner to perform any better? Chances are, they will be good at some things you’re not, and vice versa. A good marriage is characterized by habitual forgiveness. So letting a few go through to the keeper is a sensible strategy.

21. Inspire and Admire When I think about all that has given us a happy marriage, one more thing comes to mind: mutual admiration. We respect each other and seek to inspire each other with our love. Not all the time, and mostly not consciously. But if you look up to the one you love and they you, together you can move mountains.

In case your marriage isn’t happy, do please get some help. Sometimes good guidance can make a world of difference and it’s definitely worth talking things through. If I can help in any way, please feel free (though I can’t give you professional advice). Marriage is a complex arrangement and it takes more than a few twee tips to make it right when there’s something seriously wrong. But be assured, you have a big say in how things go. So don’t discount the positive influence you can bring to help build a happy marriage.


  1. Feegs says:

    Good for you, Stella. Lead the way!

  2. Stella says:

    Right! I’m going to make an effort to break the silence even though I feel it should not be me to start because he is the one who offended me. Thank you for sharing your experience.