Listen – I’m not an expert in marriage. I’m not a counselor or professional. But I have lived and learned. I’ve been divorced once and re-married.
Right now in a very happy marriage! For a really long time I didn’t think it was possible – to be this happy in any relationship. But I’m here to assure you that it is totally possible!
Photo by: Katie Lynn Photography
Although, I didn’t meet my wife until I was 32, I don’t wish that I met her at an earlier time in my life. Why? Because I truly believe that going through my past relationships taught me so much that it helped build the foundation for my current relationship to thrive on.
I’ve learned… A LOT through the years – both good and bad. And today I’m here to share a few gems – 10 tips for a happier relationship!
1) Stop blaming the other person.
Own up to your own shit! Listen – none of us are perfect. We all can be hard to live with at times. The person you are married to definitely sees you at your best and worst. Yes, they have problems too. Not every day is going to be sunshine and daisies.
You might act a certain way, because they were a certain way and vice-versa. Are you 5 years old? You’re on the same team! Communicate. Don’t hold grudges. Don’t blame. Work together and your relationship will only grow stronger over time.
If it is really THAT hard to get along with the other person… maybe you both aren’t right for each other (but that’s a whole other topic – see my other post “Stop Settling!“).
2) Make them your #1 priority and make sure they FEEL like your #1 priority.
It’s very important that your spouse feels important to you. This can mean different things to different people. Some people don’t need a lot of time together to feel important to the other one, and other couples need A LOT. There’s no right or wrong as long as you both are on the same page.
I’m not suggesting you should drop your goals, life, job, etc. and only be around your spouse 24-7. But you both should understand each other’s needs, support each other, and should FEEL like you are more important than their job, pet, hobbies, friends, siblings, mother, etc.
Most importantly, don’t just assume they know or justify why they should know… ask them! Figure out how to make it work best.
3) Your spouse isn’t a mind reader.
Just because they know you better than anyone probably does, doesn’t mean they always can or should know what’s wrong with you. COMMUNICATE. Even when it’s hard.
I’m guilty of sometimes shutting down and not communicating right away. Sorry, Sarah! I’m working on getting better and not making excuses. I know I lack in this area. I take more time to process than my wife does, but just talking about something with her makes a world of a difference. It can completely change my mood and be a relief to just get things off my chest. She also can provide a different perspective or help me if something is wrong, or sometimes even just listen to me vent.
And if something is wrong, like you have hurt feelings or are upset about something, sometimes the other person genuinely doesn’t know so don’t expect that they do. Talk!
It’s important that your spouse understands how and why you feel a certain way. Not only does it make you closer, but it saves a lot of hurt feelings.
4) Learn from your past relationships.
Any life experience you should be able to get SOMETHING out of. Life is full of lessons. If you don’t learn and grow, you’ll just keep making the same mistakes.
I once had the opportunity to talk to a friend’s ex, who was cheated on and left the relationship. They were together for over 5 years off and on. After everything was all said and done and some time passed, I asked him what he learned in the relationship. To my surprise, he said absolutely nothing. How can you be with someone for that long and learn nothing at all?
Whether someone “did you wrong” and you’re the victim, there’s always something you should be able to learn and even some ways you could have done better. No one is perfect and if you think you are, you’re either very delusional or a narcissist.
5. If you have to wonder if what you are doing is considered “cheating” then you are cheating.
Listen. It’s a digital world which makes it easier than ever to cheat. Opportunity is available daily at your fingertips. If you’re in a committed relationship, you should always respect your partner. Talk to them about their and your expectations. It might sound dumb… like they should know what cheating is already… but really they might not get upset or hurt about some things that you would, and vice-versa.
Don’t just think that your partner wouldn’t or shouldn’t get mad or jealous over something because you wouldn’t. Cheating can mean something different to everyone. No one is wrong by whatever definition they feel – but ultimately you should be with a person that agrees to terms and will respect how you feel. If not chances are that you may end up feeling like a psycho worrying about what the other is doing, who they’re talking to, etc. Don’t be that person.
6. Remove expectation and become more grateful.
I’ve learned that expectations can be one of the most harmful things in relationships. Period.
This can be harder the longer you are in a relationship. Think about it… when you first are with someone and they make you breakfast, how grateful are you? But after 10 years of them doing it, you begin to expect it and not appreciate it as much.
Learn to be in the moment and not take things for granted. Just because they are your spouse – say thank you, mean it! Make them feel appreciated and have a grateful heart. If you are genuine about it, they will know and will only make them want to do it more and be happier doing it as well!
7. Be transparent.
When you’re with the right person, you shouldn’t have to hide things from them.
I used to think it was normal to hide things or tell little “white lies,” but really it’s not. I hate the saying “what they don’t know, doesn’t hurt them.” Sorry, but it’s complete bullshit. You’re just making an excuse for lying to them or at the very least, hiding something from them for your own benefit. I’ve done this myself in the past, so trust me, I know. I learned from it and wouldn’t want to be with someone that I felt like I had to hide things from. It’s not worth it.
Trust is one of the most important things in a relationship and risking that shouldn’t be on the table.
I tell my spouse literally everything now. I’m not suggesting everyone does this, but I personally like being 100% transparent with her. She even has my phone pass-code and fingerprint on it. I have nothing to hide or worry about. It’s not because we don’t trust each other. It’s because we completely do. I never in a million years would’ve done this in my past, but that was because I hid things. I used to justify my habits by saying that they wouldn’t understand or that it’s easier to just say nothing… when in reality I never even gave them the chance.
If you have to hide things from your spouse, maybe you’re again with the wrong person or maybe you need to change some things about yourself… or both.
8. Let go of insecurities.
Insecurity can absolutely kill a relationship. Lack of trust and/or communication usually is what it boils down to.
If you are feeling insecure or notice your partner even is, the best thing to do is discuss it. There’s always a reason. Get it out on the table and fix where it’s coming from.
This could take time but it’s very important to remove insecurities from a relationship so that it is a secure, healthy and growing relationship and not toxic for either of you.
9. Stop judging and listen.
Our brains always want to know why! It does a (not so) good job at making up reasons… the sad part is that it’s not always the truth. We want to judge why people do things, or assume we know, when the fact is that we don’t always know.
You may know your spouse inside and out, but that doesn’t give you the right to negatively judge their thoughts or how they feel. You have to give your spouse the chance to talk, explain and be vulnerable with you. If you’re always jumping to conclusions it is going to make it hard for them to really want to or be able to open up with you. Show more love and acceptance. Listen more and judge less.
10. Surprise them once in a while.
This isn’t a must but it is fun and can be very meaningful. Thoughtfulness seems to go away in relationships when expectation comes into play and it doesn’t have to be that way!
Don’t always wait for a special occasion to get flowers, take them out, get them a massage or make a nice dinner for them. Surprise him/her! It’s good for both of you!
11. When all else fails, switch to women.
Just kidding! Just wanted to see if you were still reading and wanted to add a little humor in here! 😉
What all of this basically comes down to is communication – if you aren’t seeing the trend. Communicate! Talk about how you feel!
How is someone else suppose to know how you truly feel if you don’t talk about it? You shouldn’t be afraid to have conversations with your spouse or to be vulnerable with them. And having the right attitude and timing when you do talk is key.
This is basic stuff but I struggled with a lot of these things in past relationships, so I hope it helps someone else or gives them hope that it can get better! Don’t settle in an unhappy relationship. Do something about it.
Start with yourself. Examine where you can improve and make changes and just watch how much better and more positive things can be!