We just celebrated our 24th marriage anniversary and it’s been over 25 years since we started seeing each other. We consider ourselves very fortunate to enjoy a great relationship and still be in love. Considering that we are so different from each other in so many ways and that we rarely agree on anything, we often wonder what has kept us so happy together. It’s a few things.
We realize and accept the fact that everyone is different; everyone has his or her strengths and weaknesses. We don’t try to change the other. We choose to focus on the strengths and accept the weaknesses – unless one needs help and encouragement in overcoming a certain weakness. We have come to understand that being in love is not enough for a happy marriage. Happy partners choose to be happy, and they do certain things in a certain way. We have been following a certain unwritten code of conduct about how we treat each other and how we deal with our differences.
Communication is the key. Like in any other relationship, good communication is the key to a happy marriage. You don’t need a degree in communications; it’s mostly common sense. It’s Ok to argue, but you must follow certain rules. Few tips to enhance communication with your partner:
- Be honest.
- Talk to each other often.
- Listen when the other is talking.
- Express any concerns quickly.
- Compliment often; criticize rarely.
- Never criticize in public.
- Never yell at each other.
- Never bring up mistakes of the past.
- Never use the word ‘always’ and ‘never’ in arguments.
- Don’t go to bed with an unsettled argument.
- Say ‘I love you’ often… and mean it.
- Be quick to say ‘I am sorry’.
- Forgive and forget quickly.
- Never keep secrets from each other.
- Keep the in-laws out of your marriage.
What happened to the romance? Remember the first time you started seeing each other? You used to dress up, make-up, put on your best self, hold hands, and do things to please your partner. Why does it have to be any different after few years? Keeping the romance alive is an essential part of being happy with your partner. Some tips for the un-romantics:
- Hold hands.
- Hug and kiss every day – few times a day, actually.
- Give flowers or gifts or love-you cards without any occasion.
- Remember birthdays and anniversaries. Plan surprises.
- Share whatever chores you can – cooking, dishes, laundry, bills.
- Go on dates.
- Watch romantic movies together.
- Walk on the beach when it’s a full moon.
- Watch sunrise or sunset together.
- Learn what turns your partner on or off.
- Don’t make a chore out of sex. Experiment; be creative.
- Make his or her favorite breakfast.
- Dress up, or make-up, just for him or her.
- SMS your love when you are away.
- Don’t compare and praise other men or women.
Small things make the big difference. Many of them have been covered in the above lists. Here are some more:
- Talk about your dreams, goals and ambitions.
- Give foot massages and back rubs when your partner is tired.
- Call during the day.
- Switch off your iPhone or Blackberry while on a date together.
- Do it his or her way, once in a while.
- Beware of bad breath and body odor.
- Respond quickly to your partner’s requests.
- Pray for each other daily… from the heart.
- Don’t start sharing your problems as soon as your partner shows up after work
- Keep his or her photo in your wallet, or as the wallpaper of your phone.
- Go for walks together.
- Accept their ‘annoying’ habits. Do not nag
- Don’t offer an advice unless asked for.
- Be prepared to sacrifice your interests and preferences for the sake of your partner.
Very importantly, we must learn to be happy as individuals before we can be happy together. Please tell us which ones are your favorite, and share your own tips too.
[Written with help from Salma]