Any successful, happy marriage must start with a strong foundation. The most important action a married couple must take is to be actively willing to work at the marriage. That might seem simple, but you would be surprised at the number of people that think the marriage itself will solve their problems. A marriage is a promise, and you must make an effort in order to keep it.
There are many ways to build a solid foundation for your marriage, but none of them are possible without making the effort. Before you do anything else, you must commit to this principle.
Let them know that you are thinking about them
The first piece of advice that anyone needs to know in a marriage is to think often of your spouse and what their needs are. A marriage should be fulfilling and provide emotional security. Be available when you are needed. Put the phone down when your spouse comes to you to talk. Look them in the eye and listen without interruption. When they give you an opportunity to talk, let them know you listened and you love them, and deal with the problem from there. Allowing your spouse to speak openly and without interruption shows that you respect their feelings and that you are actively engaged in being their life partner.
Trust your spouse with your feelings
Listening to your spouse when they need someone to talk to is only one part of the equation. Asking for your partner’s full attention so you can discuss your needs and feelings with them will show them that you fully trust and respect them as an equal partner.
Only in certain extreme cases should one spouse withhold their feelings to protect the other. What I mean by this is that bottling up your feelings in order to spare your spouse deprives them of the opportunity to rise to the occasion and help you. Be honest about your highs and lows. This will show that you trust them with your feelings and gives them the gift of feeling needed.
Recognize What They Do and Assist
In every relationship, there are certain roles each person plays. Often, one spouse will deal with the outside of the house and the other with the inside. One spouse might deal with children’s sports while the other deals with holiday planning and gift buying.
In many relationships, this dynamic is unbalanced and one spouse is taking on more than the other. Especially in households where both spouses are working full-time outside the home, these roles need to balance. Take a good look at the daily “emotional labor” that your spouse has taken on and if you have the time and resources, help. Do not offer to help. Declare that you are going help.
For example, in your marriage there is likely one spouse that remembers family birthdays and handles buying or making appropriate cards or presents without the other spouse giving it a thought. One of you is likely to always deal with routine vehicle maintenance. One of you may do all the laundry, or cook every night.
Whichever role your spouse has taken on for themselves, step in from time to time and take over. This will show that you appreciate the work they do and will give them a much needed break. When they ask about what you are doing, simply tell them you are doing it because you love them and you want to make them happy every day of their life.
Participate in Their Life
Another important factor in a happy marriage is that each partner should retain their individual interests. Before marriage, one of you may have had season tickets at a sports venue, or another may have participated in book clubs or marathons. Continue to do these things.
In addition, take the time to tag along with your spouse from time to time. If your spouse loves something, make an effort to get involved. If they’re a runner, volunteer to work the race they are running. They will run by and see you cheering them on and they will get a big emotional boost. If they like musicals or sports and you decidedly do not, tag along every once in a while anyway (with a smile). They will know that you came along just to be with them, and they will feel special. They will know that you make them a priority in your life.
Happily Ever After
A marriage in which both partners are fulfilled and confident in their spouse’s love and respect are more likely to pass the test of time. Life is hard, and there will be obstacles that you and your spouse must face together. A good foundation builds a stronger house, and a stronger house can withstand almost any storm. Practicing these principles will ensure that you have a happy marriage for many years to come.