Marriage is hard work, even for the most committed couples. With the divorce rate in the US hovering between 40 and 50%, it’s no wonder people struggle to stay happily married. Even the best of the best have struggles in their married life.
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So what’s the secret to a long happy marriage? And what things can a couple do to have a successful and happy married life? I’ve put together a list of 15 tips for a successful marriage. These fall under four different topics: finding joy in your marriage, communicating with your spouse, working together, and putting your spouse first.
One of the Best Tips for a Successful Marriage is Finding Joy
Successful couples find ways to make married life interesting. One of those ways is to have fun together. Nobody wants to spend 50+ years bored to tears! Here are a few ways couples can bring joy to their marriage.
It’s no secret that laughter can ease stress. So finding things to laugh about together is a great happy marriage tip.
There are several ways to add a little humor to your marriage. For starters, you could watch a funny movie together. Enjoying some light entertainment is a great way to laugh with your spouse.
Inside jokes are another way to laugh (and connect) with your spouse. My husband and I have some stupid inside jokes with each other. Even our kids don’t always get it. But to us, these goofy jokes are absolutely hilarious!
Laughing releases endorphins. And endorphins make you happy. So go ahead and watch that silly movie or tell that corny joke. A little chuckle can improve your mood and laughing together is an awesome tip for a successful marriage!
Having Fun Together Makes Married Life Interesting
Laughing together is important, but you should try to find other ways to have fun with your spouse for a long happy marriage.
Date nights are a great way to have fun together! You can take turns planning fun nights (or lunch dates) for the two of you to enjoy.
Dinner and a movie is a classic date scenario. But if that’s not your idea of a good time, then plan something else. An afternoon drive through the countryside could be fun. You could also take in a play or visit a museum.
Finding a hobby to do together is another of my favorite tips for a successful marriage. Watching football together, signing up for classes, or sharing your favorite books with each other are all awesome ways to do this.
Twice a week, my husband and I take a karate class together, and we love it! Not only is it a great way to increase your physical fitness, but it’s an awesome way to spend time together. The point is, you need to find something the two of you can enjoy together.
Being Yourself is One of the Most Crucial Tips for a Successful Marriage
Being yourself is one of the most crucial tips for a successful marriage. Honesty is super important, but it goes much further than that.
By being yourself 100% with your spouse, you’re giving yourself completely to them. It’s a little scary, but also freeing when you find that person you can be yourself with all of the time. Knowing that you’re accepted as yourself by another person brings joy to both of you and your marriage.
Of course, as you’re accepted to be yourself by your spouse, they should also be given the same opportunity from you. Your spouse should feel free to be himself with you. Then the two of you will both enjoy the freedom that comes from this kind of relationship! This freedom can make a married couple’s love stronger than it’s ever been.
Having Your Own Hobbies
Earlier I mentioned finding an activity to do with your husband as one way to have a long and happy marriage. I still stand by that, but having your own interests is important too!
I enjoy singing with our church praise team, but my husband doesn’t sing. Spending time at practice is fun for me. It’s also nice to be with friends who enjoy music as much as I do.
My husband likes to golf, which didn’t interest me at all. He doesn’t have a lot of free time, but whenever he has the opportunity, I encourage him to play golf with his friends.
Having different interests gives us a small break from each other. Then, after a little time apart, we’re excited to see each other again!
Maybe it’s a lunch date with your girlfriends each month. Or your husband could help a buddy work on something around his house. Having some of your own time and interests apart from your spouse is a strong characteristic of a successful marriage.
Communication is Key in a Happy Marriage
It’s no secret that communication is super important in a long marriage. Here are four ways that communion is one of the most important tips for a successful marriage.
Being Honest (But Kind) to Show Love in a Long Term Marriage
Being honest is crucial in any relationship, and even more so in marriage. Traditional wedding vows contain the words “to love, honor and cherish”, which all center around being honest with your spouse. If you can’t trust your partner for life, who can you trust?
Psychology Today lists 8 different ways that dishonesty can cause harm to a relationship.
Even though honesty IS the best policy, kindness is just as important, if not more! We do need to let our husbands know when something they do bothers us. But we can (and should) choose to be kind about it.
When we are derogatory, or rude, when talking with our spouse, we will lose their attention.
No one wants to hear criticism! But, if you are kind with your delivery of criticism, your spouse is much more likely to listen to your concerns.
Early in our marriage, my husband and I were both cruder in our criticisms. We have both worked on our approach over the past 24 years. Neither of us is nearly perfect now, but we both are much more kind and thoughtful in our approach. This has improved our relationship while also improving our communication.
Shower Them With Compliments
Everyone loves being made to feel special! Knowing that someone thinks you’re the most important, adorable, and yes, the most desirable person in the world to them is an amazing feeling.
Couples that have been married for several years can often fall into a relationship rut. They get in a routine; job, house, kids, and so on… And when a happily married couple falls into a rut, they might stop complimenting each other as they should. This may sound like an obvious tip for a successful marriage, but we all need reminders, don’t we?
There are soooo many small ways to compliment your spouse. Thanking them for something they did not only shows appreciation, but it also shows them that you notice when they help out.
You could also complement their job success at work. Letting them know you realize how much they do at work is a huge confidence booster!
Complimenting their appearance is nice, but giving a meaningful compliment is much better relationship advice! Find something they do for you, without being asked and be sure to thank them. Then you can add in a compliment to go along with it. Tell them they are always very helpful or considerate. Trust me, this approach works much better than nagging them to get things done.
Add in Some Romance
Most people are good at romance during the early years of their marriage. It takes effort to keep it going through the years. Some people are better at this and some have to work hard to make it happen. But, you can make it happen!
Date nights are a great way to add a little romance to your marriage. Scheduling a weekly or monthly date night is one of the best tips for a successful marriage. But it can be hard to add in that time with an already packed schedule. If you can’t make dinner and movie work (or whatever your fave date night is), try setting up a date night at home. You could make a nice dinner for the two of you after the kids go to bed. Or you could pop some popcorn, pick a movie to watch, and snuggle together on the couch. Whatever you can do to make a date night happen will help to strengthen your marriage.
There are plenty of other ways to up the romance factor of your marriage. You could put a sweet note somewhere they will find it. My dad and mom are both awesome at doing this for each other! My mom leaves sweet post-it notes for my dad in his collection of post-it reminders. And my dad has been known to stamp out C+R (Chester + Rose) and ILY (I Love You) in the snow. These are some simple and adorable ways to bring the romance factor up a notch and to show love in a long term marriage!
Arguments Are Only Temporary in a Successful Marriage
Remembering this can be one of the more difficult ways to help your marriage thrive. But, it just might be the most important tips for a successful marriage!
We are people, and we are flawed. So are our spouses. That means you will make your husband angry, and he will make you angry.
You will argue. You will disagree. Both of you will have your feelings hurt by the other. That’s just how life goes.
One of my favorite quotes from couples who’ve been married 50 years (like my parents) is “you shouldn’t go to bed angry with your spouse.” These words of wisdom originally come from the Bible. Ephesians 4:26-27 “… Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” (NLT)
When we stay mad at our spouse, whether we go to bed angry or not, we allow the hurt feelings to fester inside ourselves. Those unresolved hurt feelings can turn into long term resentment. And long term resentment can wreck even the strongest relationship.
So talk it out. Openly (but kindly) tell your spouse what’s made you angry. And be willing to listen to their hurts too.
During our pre-marriage counseling, my husband and I decided together that divorce was off the table. Because of that, we both know that any argument we have is not the end of our marriage. It’s just a blip in the road.
Working Together in Marriage
Working together is crucial if you want your marriage to last! But it can be a huge struggle to do that in the real world. Here are three ways you can work together better in your marriage.
Backing Each Other Up
One of my favorite tips for a successful marriage is that as a couple, you should be presenting a unified front. Big decisions should be made together. This includes large purchases, job changes, and big decisions that involve your kids.
The car commercials at Christmas always make me think of this point. They are encouraging you to buy a car as a present for your spouse. But, if my husband “surprised” me with a car as a gift, I would be ready to strangle him! Who buys something like that without talking to their spouse?
You should also back up your spouse when dealing with the kids. When one parent says no, the other one needs to go along with it. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk about it and disagree in private. But your kids should only see you working together.
I don’t have step kids, but I would say this unity is especially true in blended families. If kids can pit one parent against the other, they’ll do it. And they will try to take advantage if they think there’s a chink in your bond with your spouse.
Showing a Genuine Interest
Along with adding romance to your marriage, showing a genuine interest in your spouse can help you have a long and happy marriage. People like to have their opinions and feelings valued. They also enjoy it when you care about their hobbies too!
My husband and I both like to read fantasy. We don’t have the exact same tastes in books, but we do like a lot of the same stuff. We also enjoy talking about our favorite series and characters with each other.
Some of the books that he LOVES, I’m not so crazy about. But when he wants to tell me all about them, I listen. And he does the same with me.
There is one way that you can maybe show too much interest in your spouse’s needs. When your husband, or wife, is venting about a problem they are dealing with, they don’t always want you to fix it. A lot of times, they simply want you to LISTEN to what they have to say!
You may not be sure whether they are asking for help or simply venting. If this is the case, then instead of swooping in to fix the problem, you can ask what they need from you. This is a great way to show you care without stepping on their toes, and another important tip for a successful marriage!
Putting Your Spouse First
Everyone wants to be a priority to someone else. By putting your spouse first, above even yourself, you’re making them feel valued and special in your marriage.
Having Realistic Expectations
One way to put your spouse first is by having realistic expectations for them.
We often put our spouse upon a pedestal, especially in the early years of our relationship. We think they are so awesome and so perfect, and hopefully, they are perfect for us.
But they are human, the same as you are. And they are definitely not perfect.
When our spouse does something that hurts us, we often can’t believe it. How could they? Doesn’t he love me? These are the thoughts that swirl in our mind along with the hurt.
We instantly wonder why our spouse isn’t perfect. But, when we are the ones making mistakes, we want them to extend us grace.
One of the biblical keys to a successful marriage is forgiveness. The Bible tells us to forgive others just as Christ forgave us (Colossians 3:13).
If we are to expect to be forgiven for our own sins, shouldn’t we, in turn, extend this forgiveness to our spouse (and everyone, if you really think about it)? By offering grace to our spouse, we are allowing them to be human as God created them. In doing that, we are setting realistic expectations for our spouse in our marriage. This is an example of more great tips for a successful marriage that we all need to remember.
Remembering Your Own Faults
Another tip for a successful marriage is that while we are setting realistic expectations for our husband, we should also be setting them for ourselves. One way to do that is remembering we have faults of our own.
None of us are perfect. That’s hard to admit, even for me. I don’t like making mistakes. And I definitely don’t like being called out on them.
But when we remember our own faults, it’s much easier to extend grace to others who do wrong to us. It’s soooo easy to get mad and wonder why people do what they do. When we think about our own flaws, we are much more likely to extend grace and forgive.
Romans 3:23 states “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We must remember that in relation to other people. Even though others do wrong to us, we must forgive them. Christ forgave us, and we are not even close to being perfect. So shouldn’t we forgive those imperfect people we do life with?
Be Willing to Serve Them
When we remember that our sins are forgiven, and we should forgive others as well, we should be eager to serve others. This, of course, includes our spouse.
When we love our spouse, we should want to do things for them. We should actually crave ways to show our love by serving them. This is one of the most important tips for a successful marriage!
Waking up early to make their coffee and lunch is a good start. You can also find ways to serve your spouse around the house. Doing a chore that they normally take care of, without them asking, is another awesome way to show service!
During the week, my husband and I often have crazy, but very different schedules at work. In times when we know our spouse is super busy, we should willingly pick up the slack. Doing the dishes and laundry are both perfect ways to serve your spouse.
At our house, my husband does the majority of the farm/outside chores, and I handle most of the inside work (which doesn’t bother me at all, lol). But, when one of us has a busy week and some late nights, the other one needs to step up and help out in ways they might not normally do.
A few weeks ago, my husband worked double shifts Monday-Wednesday, and a long shift on Thursday and Friday. During this week, I had to do a lot more of the cattle feeding than usual. With that being said, my husband made sure that I had as little to do as possible. He woke up early and made sure to get some feeding done most days. My load was a lot lighter than I expected, which made what I had to do a lot less stressful than it could have been.
Thinking of Their Needs Above Yours
As a married couple, you should really be thinking of your spouse’s needs before your own. But, since we are human, and we are bound to mess up, we often need to be reminded to do this. This is one of the tips for a successful marriage I’ve needed a reminder on at times.
We have to willingly, and consciously, practice the art of putting others before ourselves. But if we do that with our spouse, we are in effect helping ourselves as well.
Last week, I had a crazy schedule! I work Monday through Friday from 7:30-3:15 on a normal week, and I also teach a Drumfit class from 4:30-5:30 each Monday at my school. We take karate twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday night. And that week we also had a school music program scheduled for Thursday night.
When my husband realized all I had to do last week, he immediately reminded me that I don’t have to do it all. He quickly told me everything he would do to make my week as easy as possible. This was a great way to show me that he thinks of my needs before his own.
At The End of The Day
Showing your spouse love, and letting them know they are loved every day, no matter what is probably the greatest tip for a successful marriage. Couples who’ve had success for many years swear by these tips for a successful marriage!
But it’s not easy. It never is. By showing unconditional love to your husband, and allowing him to be himself, you can open up a world of possibilities for your life and for your marriage. And having a successful marriage, one that lasts, is the ultimate goal for most people we meet!