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33 Ways to Make Our Marriages Happier (Part 2 of 3)

 anniversary16{Photo yesterday & today from the brilliant Philippe Cheng}

Yesterday, I shared my first eleven Ways to Make Our Marriages Happier and Lindsey shared her wonderful Here Year post The Habits of the Happily Married. I said it yesterday and I'll say it now, this is all utterly unscientific and based on nothing more than observation and, in some cases, experience. I claim no expertise on the subject of Marriage, but I am married and am interested in questions about the institution. And so I came up with a list of things that, if done at least some of the time, might very well improve marriage. Okay, phew, disclaimers aside, here goes.

the second eleven...

12. Reminisce together.

Time blurs by too fast. Take the time to sit together and remember good times you’ve experienced together. Maybe your wedding day or the day your first kid was born.

13. Talk about dreams literal and metaphorical.

I think this is so important. Carve out time to talk about your actual nightly dreams (often a good litmus test for what’s going on in waking life) as well as metaphorical dreams about the future. These dreams can be realistic in hue or totally far-fetched and fairy-tale-esque.

14. Make an effort to maintain body and mind.

We’ve all heard those woeful tales about married people letting themselves go… We need not be fanatical in our efforts to maintain a certain clothing size or to defy aging, but we should pay attention to body and mind. In my own Mom's post on marriage she says it so well, "Be responsible for your own health and your mental well-being."

15. Subtract something.

Most of us have an issue with something. It could be shopping too much or smoking or binge eating or drinking. Our habits don't just affect us as individuals. They affect our marriages. I've had a complicated relationship with wine for many years now. I've said it before, but giving it up was the best thing I've done for my marriage.

16. Pay compliments.

I don’t care how many years you’ve known someone, hearing a compliment never gets old. You look beautiful. That’s a good color on you. You were so sweet with the girls when you printed pictures of their favorite animals. Don’t just think these things. Say them. Related: when your partner pays you a compliment, hear it.

17. Don’t side with the enemy.

When he is complaining about a person or a situation, let him vent and listen. This is not the time to see the other person’s point-of-view or find the silver lining in a tricky set of circumstances.

18. Focus on the positive.

Life is tricky terrain. Any marriage will have its ups and downs, but to the extent that it’s up to us, we should do our best to focus on the positive, the things that are working, the things that are unique and great, as opposed to the things that are not-so-hot. This isn’t to say we should ignore problems or issues, but just as a matter of outlook, it pays to focus on the good bits.

19. Say thank you.

A huge one. We must not forget to feel gratitude and express it. If he does something, however small or routine, say thank you. Feeling appreciated day-in-day-out is so important for all of us.

20. Frame demands as favors.

How we frame things is critical. Do you mind taking the girls to school on Wednesday so I can have some extra writing time? This is so much better than: I need you to take the girls to school. I haven’t been writing enough.

21. Be quick to confront.

There’s nothing worse than letting a resentment fester. Say something. Be cool-headed about it. Talk it through.

22. Don’t try to change the other person (too much).

We do not marry robots. We marry people with quirks and flaws and habits. We can only encourage and expect change to a point; there are things about him you must accept and maybe even learn to celebrate.

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Thoughts or reactions? Come back tomorrow for my final installment of these silly marriage tips.

here year3

Previous Posts on the Here Year/Marriage:

The Here Year.

The Here Year Month #3: Marriage.

The Here Year, June: Marriage (A Design So Vast)

On Marriage & Age.

"We Are a Work-in-Progress." (A guest post)

"She's got my back, and I've got hers." (A guest post)

What My Therapist Said About Marriage.

4.003 Days of Laughter (& Counting) (A guest post)

The Marriage & Sex Question.

The Best Thing I've Done For My Marriage?

"All of a sudden, everything was different." (A guest post)

Why Do Married People Cheat?

11 Insights from Jane Green

Without a Net (A guest post)

The Marriage-Children Paradox

33 Ways to Make Our Marriages Happier (Part 1 of 3)

The Habits of the Happily Married (A Design So Vast)

"Do You Think We'll Make It Another Year?"

33 Ways to Make Our Marriages Happier (Part 1 of 3)