Before marriage, you may think that getting married to the love of your life means you are going to have a happy ending. It might be true to a certain extend if you both work towards a happy marriage.
Marriage takes work and at times, it is difficult to feel the happiness or joy in a marriage when you both have children – it may feel like your spouse is another family member to take care of or that your spouse is like a co-worker getting ‘family work’ done. Living closely under one roof, with the daily stresses of work and parenting, can strain a marriage and brings out the worst in us.
Here are the 12 rules for maintaining a happy marriage!
Rule #1 Manners Matters
This may seem like something insignificant, after all, you are a married couple and what does a ‘Thank You’ or ‘Sorry’ matter? But manners matters. As we forget to be polite to each other, we tend to be harsher (or sound harsher) and easily crosses the line to ordering our spouse, belittling or out-rightly disregarding our spouse’s feelings. Being polite, on the other hand, helps us to remember to appreciate, respect and love our spouse.
Rule #2 Communicate Affection
Similar to manners, we may neglect to show affection towards our spouse after marriage. Phone calls are hanged up without a proper good bye, no acknowledgement to our spouse when they return home, our behaviour starts to be harsher and our speech becomes less endearing. Yes, we may not have all the time in the world but it is important to show your love and concerns through your smiles, acknowledgement, hug and love. And don’t forget to adopt a softer and kinder tone when speaking to your spouse.
Rule #3 Fight Smart
It is inevitable that couples living together will quarrel but it is important to do so smartly. Remember that backing down in a quarrel does not make you the ‘loser’ – the one who truly lost is the one who lost a bit more of the love in a marriage, hurt the other person and don’t make changes for the better. Here are a few tips to remember when you are in a quarrel:
a. Don’t yell – Your spouse can’t hear what you really want him/her to hear when you yell.
b. Fight lovingly – Think of instances when you disagree with your co-workers, did you do so shouting like a crazy person or calmly and professionally? Your spouse deserves better than your co-worker, fight lovingly.
c. Don’t call names.
d. Don’t bring up past mistakes.
e. Use ‘we’, ‘ours’ and ‘us’ intentionally during a fight – After all, it’s a fight over something that affects both of you.
f. Don’t think for yourself only – Choose the best solution for the family.
Rule #4 Date Night
It is important to spend time with each other. Ask for help to take care of your children for a night while you both enjoy an evening together. Take leave from work to spend time together and do the activities you both enjoy. Although you are both married, it is important to continue to go for dates like you do during your dating days. Ignite the sparks and stay in love.
Rule #5 Praise, not Criticise
Living together under one roof means you have to deal with each other’s flaws daily. It is easy to start criticising and finding faults on each other. Wouldn’t it be nice if you choose to focus on the positive attributes of your spouse and give praise than to criticise for all the flaws her or she has? Appreciation goes a long way and it is difficult to be angry with a person who appreciates and sees your strengths.
Rule #6 Ask for Forgiveness
If you have said something hurtful, ask for forgiveness. If you have acted rashly or disregarded your spouse’s feelings, ask for forgiveness. Sometimes we think our spouse knows that we are sorry for what has happened and there isn’t a need to apologise. This is incorrect! When we are hurt, it may not be evident in our daily activities, but it is still in our heart. Saying sorry helps prevent resentment from building up over time.
Rule #7 Don’t Be Angry Overnight
Although we know that not all disagreements can be settled within the day, DON’T go to bed angry. Some disagreements may be over major family decisions that will takes time to resolve. Pushing for a conclusion or for your spouse to talk until it is resolved is counter-productive and often further strain the relationship. Instead, not being angry overnight means cooling down from the argument, forgive and ask for forgiveness for the quarrel and agree to tackle the issue amicably together.
Rule #8 Explore and Play Together
The daily grind of life can sometimes gets to us, try something different from time to time such as a different restaurant (aplus point is to find a restaurant with kids’ play area, so that you can spend some quiet moments together), a new sports or hobby (fishing, ballroom dancing, baking classes, musical instrument or yoga) or make a weekend special by exploring parks, farms and places of interest in Singapore.
Related Post: Top 8 Kid-Friendly Restaurants In Singapore
Rule #9 Grow Together
Marriage is a unique relationship where your life is intertwined with another, and that means your dreams and hopes somehow will involve or affect your spouse. As a couple, it is a merger of strengths and each can help the other in weaker areas and together, achieve more than the sum of individual achievements. Practise listening to your spouse, remember what excites him/her and motivates each other to accomplish. Celebrate each other’s accomplishments, however small – big things can only be accomplished when the small ones are!
Rule #10 Give Attention
We may think that only women need to be listened to, and often forget that our men need someone to lend his listening ears too. It may be that your husband needs a longer time to warm up to share deeper thoughts but he still wants you to listen and give him your fullest attention and acknowledgement. Listening is also understanding, respecting and a form of showing your love, and if you are busy at the point when your spouse wants to have a conversation, arrange for another time calmly rather than snapping at your spouse.
Rule #11 Your Spouse is the Priority
Your spouse is the one who will grow old with you, not your children nor your work. Making your spouse your priority means giving your time, energy and love to him. On some days, you may not feel like doing so – after all, you have an equal load (if not more!) of work and parenting tasks, why should you spend more effort on your spouse? The ’secret’ of couples with long and happy marriages are that, each desires to give more than the other and if your spouse hasn’t, he or she might, if you make the first move.
Rule #12 No Turning Back
In our society today, we tend to ascribe a higher value to being happy but a spouse is not something you ‘trade-in’ for a better one that you think can make you happier. There is no turning back in your marriage and living with the mindset that divorce is an option may possibly be self-fulfilling as we do not make an effort to build the marriage.
Marriage is life-long so don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t get all of it right. Learn from your experience and work on your marriage. Remember you are a part of the marriage and working on a happy marriage means you’d be happier too!