Do rules for a happy marriage exist?
To answer the question, picture Ruth.
All her life, Ruth has dreamed about a job in Sales. The day came when Ruth interviewed for her dream job and wowed the interview panel.
She got the job! Her first few months at work were a blast. Clients raved about her, colleagues loved her and she hit all her targets.
But at about the six month mark, and for some strange reason, Ruth felt the need to shake things up a bit.
She supposed her company needed a new mission statement. And set about coming up with one. And implementing it.
Then she began showing up late for work. And clients started complaining. She ignored all talks and warnings from HR.
So…how long do you think Ruth had a job?
Rules for a happy marriage
A lot of people interview for the job called marriage and pass with flying colors. In fact, they throw a big party (wedding) to celebrate their success.
Then the marriage begins.
No need to impress anymore, you reckon. Show up to work when you feel like. Make little effort to get along with your only colleague.
Also, create a list of high expectations and demands on your partner while having much lower expectations on yourself. Throw out the rules book that got you the job and come up with something new.
How long do you think the marriage will last?
I know. The word “rules” doesn’t evoke nice mushy feelings; it’s not the most romantic way to describe how to build a good marriage.
But we can’t deny the fact that a good marriage is built on unchanging fundamentals.
Fundamentals that are based on grace and intentionality; we lean on God to help us love AND get our feet to move in His direction (not any direction.)
So what is this rules book I am talking about? What are the rules for a happy marriage that every couple interested in creating a happily ever after should live by?
The practices are many and varied by these five come to mind
Humility is defined as “a modest or low view of one’s own importance.”
The truth is we didn’t get married by convincing our spouse that we are better than they are. Fact; most people get married because the other person made them feel like a 10!
So if you want to stay happily married? You need to figure out how to make your spouse feel like a 10. And how to dial down your sense of importance.
Certainly, you matter. But your spouse also matters.
And since we are terrible judges of our motives and hearts, we need to keep close to the Originator of marriage for only He can guide and temper our hearts.
Know why newlyweds love to play The Newlywed Game? Because they’ve spent copious amounts of time fanning their interest in each other.
Reeling off his and her likes and dislikes, quirks, strengths, memories, accomplishments, hopes, dreams e.t.c is a blooming joy.
Oldies in marriage, on the other hand, get irritated by some aspects of the newlywed game because they are more intimately acquainted with other things as well.
Like familiarity, a busy life, commitments, kids, regular irritations and stretches of married life, morning breath, time.
These things, when allowed, do eat away at the golden building block of marriage called “interest.”
Interest is one of the main reasons we said: “I do.” Someone got curious about us, wooed our hearts, made us feel like the most impressive and exciting person in the world.
Guess how we stay happily married?
Curiosity about your spouse, staying attentive strengthens the marriage bond. It makes us feel wanted, valuable, attractive, enjoyable.
On the other hand, being taken for granted is (one of the many) kill switches to friendship. When our craving for attention goes unmet, something dies at the core.
If you are out of ideas on how to stir interest in your spouse that leads to a deeper bonding, you can begin by asking your spouse the following questions.
Ask about about
- Their favorite memories growing up
- What they thought about you when you first met
- What irritates them the most
- Their best friend from childhood
- What they enjoyed the most about school and what they hated
- Their love language See why speaking my love language is a race to the bottom
- Biggest fear
- Hope in life
- Their favorite music and movie
My husband and I bought 365 Connecting Questions for Couples book by Casey and Meygan Caston. I call it the shortcut for couples who want to know more about their spouse but don’t know where to start.
Check out the book here
Remember: we got married because we found someone who makes us feel like the most important person in their world. We stay happily married for the same reason.Remember; we got married because we found someone who makes us feel like the most important person in their world. We stay happily married for the same reason.
Or responsibility. Commitment. Obligation. These are not sexy words, I am afraid. But they are non-negotiable for a healthy marriage.
And what I love about having a sense of duty in marriage is that it’s dual-pronged. It not only reminds me of my obligations to my husband, it also reminds me of my husband’s obligations to our marriage.
If he and I go sideways on our commitments, we both have the responsibility to bring each other up to speed about it.
That, my friend, is the good (albeit the most painful, misunderstood, and misused) side of marriage. Two people doing life together, helping each other grow up and become better humans.
What happens when we toss out commitment aka duty? When we don’t believe in the seriousness of the vow we took and therefore 1) cower back 2) allow our spouse to lazy about? Marriage hurts. Terribly.
Because what holds a marriage together is grace (much much grace) and intentionality.
To help you get started on what it means to function as a unit and create agreement in your marriage, read these posts
4. Knowledge about the past
Over the years, I have talked with hundreds of wives about marriage and the issues they are wrestling with. One of the things that stand out through our conversations is the power of the past.
Specifically, how history can rewrite our future and hinder growth.
It shifts our future when we believe that we have to change our pasts before we can take responsibility, change ourselves, our attitudes and expectations.
Certainly, we need to deal with our pasts because we can’t heal from what we are running from.
But at some point, we have to stop using the past as an excuse not to heal.
A lot of husbands and wives are so tangled up with their wounds and messes they’ve lost their identity. They don’t know who they are without this thing that hurts them.
Yes, it hurts but also provides comfort and familiarity, something to talk about and stay mad at.
But let’s peek at our life before the marriage.
If your dating and courtship were healthy, you most likely worked through issues in each other’s pasts. For my husband and I, we talked about some deep stuff to the point of my tears.
We even broke up at some point because we seemed so different. But we worked through our differences. That’s how come we are married.
Marriage is the same way.
We have to learn how to use the past as a point of reference (as opposed to a point of defeat), constantly asking ourselves “what did I learn from this experience?” and “how can I make a better choice today.”
Otherwise marriage will suffer paralysis. You’ll be deadlocked, unable to work through current concerns. Yes, do talk about the past but don’t use it as a shield, cop out, blame game, the stone of unforgiveness.
Here’s one example of how you can use the past to help you move forward in your marriage
5. Godly self-talk
Remember what it took to go out on a date? Guts, my friend. Dating is heart-risky business.
But with the risk is a hope and belief that something good might come out of it, eventually.
When my husband and I started going out, I talked to myself a lot, reminding myself of God’s word, why I was going out with Tommy, what we were trying to achieve (friendship). See Of waiting for Boaz and the perfect boyfriend
There were lots of negative voices in and outside my head and churning feelings. It was a battle to risk my heart again because I had been heart-thrashed just a few months before.
Still, I risked. And looking back, the reason I was able to risk was because I also talked to myself. Instead of listening to myself.
Most of us assume that everything we hear from ourselves is true. So we listen. Instead of talking back and correcting.
There’s a reason God gives us a list of things to meditate on. Philippians 4:8 says
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
See, we are not meant to just go with the flow. Unchecked, our minds will wander into lies and danger and bondage. So we are to lead our thoughts, not the other way round.
We are tell ourselves the stories of God’s truth. We are to confront every belief and opinion that does not line up to higher truth.
So. When marriage feels hard (and it will get hard) don’t just sit there and listen to yourself. Talk to yourself.
Read God’s word. Give yourself a pep talk. Listen to worship music. Write down Scripture verses and carry them around to read and redirect your mind.
Fight for your marriage. The same way you fought for a friendship, a relationship, an engagement, a wedding.Fight for your marriage. The same way you fought for a friendship, a relationship, an engagement, a wedding.
More habits and rules for a happy marriage
If you are interested in diving deeper into what it takes to create a healthy happy marriage, my book Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily Ever after in the Early Years will help you. Buy it > Amazon Paperback I Kindle I Barnes & Noble I PDF