Wednesday, January 28, 2015

10 Secrets to a Happy Marriage: Anniversary Edition

Wedding Day, Jan. 2000
Have you ever read about star-crossed love and wondered if it's real? 

It is.

One of my reviewers for SOULLESS suggested it's highly possible I am very happily married. She's right. Today is my 15 year anniversary. We started out epically in love, and are still epically in love. 

So how does that work? Well, here are a few secrets (in no particular order):

1. Don't live together first. "What?" you ask. But that's what people do! That's how you're supposed to do it. 

No. No, it's not. 

Think about this on a subconscious level. Choosing to live together before marriage is like saying, "Here, let's give this a trial run to see if it works out."

Wow. That's romance for you. NOT.

When you start a relationship, start with the deepest commitment: I'm in this for forever. Think about what that does on a base level. Your commitment is 100%. Your partner's commitment is 100%. It's not a "let's see if this works" kind of arrangement. You're both ALL IN.

Start with that basis, and your chances of success multiply exponentially. (Don't believe me? Check out source 1 and source 2. There are hundreds of others, but the facts are actually quite astonishing.)

2. Talk, all the time. And listen too. For a school project (before I was married), I interviewed my grandmother about what was most important in marriage. Her answer: Communication

My hubby and I were apart for 2 years before we were able to get married, and our only means of communication was letters. We got to know one another pretty well through the written word. In fact, call us silly, but we still text, call or chat every single day while we're at work. It may be a simple issue involving the kids, or a quick, "I'm thinking about you." It doesn't matter what it is, but we're in touch.

Remember, listening is part of that equation. That means turning off the phone, the internet, the TV, everything. Nothing says, "You're just not a priority", like a spouse scrolling down their smart phone while you're trying to talk. 



3. Go to bed together. What happens when your schedules fall out of sync, is then your lives fall out of sync. Suddenly you develop different priorities. There are also studies that say couples who cuddle or touch while sleeping, have stronger relationships.

4. Do something that shows you love your spouse every day. This should be obvious, right? Here's the key: learning how to tell someone you love them.

What? You just say it, right?

Possibly.

For some people, an act of service is really the way you say, "I love you." For some it's physical touch. For others it's receiving gifts. Others need regular verbal reinforcement (compliments etc). For ALL, it's quality time.

5. Willingly make sacrifices. When you say, "I do", you promise to think always of the other person in your decisions. There is no room for selfishness. 

I've watch marriages crumble because although a husband may say, "I love you", he won't make the sacrifice to get or hold down a steady job. On the reverse, some marriages crumble because a woman won't learn how to curb her spending.

Real love requires a willingness to change our behaviors.

6. DATE. Yes, even after marriage. I once heard a very wise man say, "Love is actually spelled T-I-M-E." Dates don't have to cost money. They can be a simple walk in the park together, viewing Christmas lights, playing board games. Whatever you do, make it a priority and be sure to plan something regularly. Once a week is awesome. Once a month is MANDATORY. WITHOUT KIDS. 

7. Common interests or hobbies. My mom likes to remodel her house. Crazy, right? But each project is something she and her husband can do together. They enjoy creating as a team.

Some people enjoy playing sports, running or exercising, giving service to charities, gardening, or theater... Whatever it is, build some common ground--something that belongs to both of you.

8. Positive Mental Dialog. It's so easy to forget why you fell in love with someone to begin with, but focusing on the good in a person is one way to keep love alive. If you allow yourself to focus on the bad or annoying, you will start seeing your spouse in a degraded light. Look for the good--just like you hope they are doing for you. In fact, when you focus on the positive, they are very likely to reciprocate the kindness. 

9. Religion. We live in a world where people want to say this aspect doesn't matter. 

It does. 

Religious beliefs are at the core of a person's soul. I suppose that's why I hesitate to share mine, even when I should, because they are so sacred to me. For instance, because of our beliefs, when my husband and I married, we married for eternity--not just until death-do-you-part. Marriage is a priority as part of our religion. God comes first, then one another, then kids, then church, then work and school...

15 Happy Years
10. Forgiveness. Conflicts will come, even for those who are completely grounded. We all do and say stupid things. We all blame one another for problems, validated or not. True love is one that doesn't hold a grudge. Forgiveness frees a person to love deeper because they're not busy clinging to pain. If we want successful marriages, we have to let those walls down and extend our spouse the same courtesy we give ourselves when we do or say something stupid. 



Because it's my anniversary, I'm taking the week off, but first let's announce the latest winner!

Last week Stacey Nash shared FORGET ME NOT with us, along with two lies and one truth. Those who guessed the truth correctly were entered into a random drawing for the chance to win an eBook 

Stacey's game: 


1. Stacey is somehow linked with identical twins. There's always been at least one set playing a major role in her life at any given time.

2. She was once stark naked in the DMV.

3. She has more ribs than most people, and that's what makes her a mutant (or if you prefer, meta-human). It's not her super power though. That's being able to hear her name whispered from across a crowded room.

And the lie is:

#2. In Stacey's own words: "The DMV (or RTA as we call it on Australia) was crowded and my then three year old and I had been waiting for over an hour for our turn to speak with an employee. He's a good kid, but he was getting rather agitated, hungry, and like me just wanted to get out of there. Finally, our number was called so I moved up to the counter to renew our car's registration. Mr three was terribly frustrated by this, because if we were moving we should have been moving toward the exit. So as I was talking to the DMV lady, he tried to get my attention. When I asked him to wait, he just grew more frustrated, until finally he tugged on my dress really, REALLY, hard. It was one of those maxi dresses that are fitted around the bust then flow out. Well, he'd tugged so hard it slipped right down to my waist together with my strapless bra. (I have trouble holding them up cause I'm tiny.)  I don't think the poor lady knew where to look and thankfully the massive queue behind us could only see my back."

What a story, right?

Way to guess everyone! And the winner is:

...DRUM ROLL...


Congrats Jenni! 

What are some secrets you've learned for a healthy relationship? Are you celebrating anything this week? Have you ever written or read about a relationship that made you want to do better? 

56 comments:

  1. Happy Anniversary!!

    I don't necessarily agree with #1 Not Living Together. I believe everyone has to do what works for them and for their relationship. My husband and I will be happily married for 16 years this spring. :)

    Enjoy your week off!

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  2. Aww, happy anniversary! Fifteen years is so impressive. Hope you two enjoy your day! :)

    I had taken some Family Life Education courses in college, and that bit about not living together first is something I actually learned in one. It was shocking to see all the stats out there that confirm it...

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  3. Excellent list of secrets! Communication would be high on my list. And Amen to the one about spiritual beliefs. It does matter.
    Happy anniversary!

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  4. Happy Anniversary, and congratulations on the 15 years! That's great.

    Hehe, based on your list, my husband and I are doomed. ;)

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  5. Congratulations and wishing you many more happy years.

    Nice examples.

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  6. I agree with all of yours! It sounds like we're probably the same religion too :) Marriage doesn't have to be hard. We've been blissfully married for 8 years and have never once had a fight. I think a lot of it boils down to communication and compromise.

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  7. Talk less, listen more...
    Words hurt...so be careful...
    Respect each other...
    These are the secrets for a healthy relationship...

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  8. Yay!!! Happy Anniversary! You are spot on with these tips and observations. We just celebrated our 23rd anniversary on the 25th and peoples' response always amazes me. They are shocked that we've spent all those years together. For me, there just wasn't any other choice. We work hard - and yes, there are down times - but we never give up or give in to life's frustrations. Basically, we just live.

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  9. Your post should be required reading for all engaged couples. I totally agree with your grandmother about communication. She's a wise woman.

    Happy Anniversary!

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  10. Happy Anniversary. My husband and I have been married for 32 years and we also call each when one is away at work. Laughter is the one thing I would add to your list. You have to be able to laugh together.

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  11. I saw that review! And I agree with her.I'm not married, but I'll carry these tips over whenever I do tie the knot. ;)

    Happy Anniversary!!!!

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  12. Crystal, this was beautiful!! Congratulations on your epic love and anniversary.
    These are really amazing pieces of advice. You should write a marriage book=)
    My boyfriend and I are not married but we have grown to love each other more and more every single day. You nailed it with dating whether those times are a simple walk, a day at the beach, a movie inside, reading next to each other, etc.
    Communication and compromise are key.
    I hope you both are doing something beautiful to celebrate!

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  13. Happy Anniversary! Hope you two enjoy your day.

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  14. Happy Anniversary! We're going on... 21 years. Yes, attitude is everything. Also remembering what dating was like is a big incentive. :D

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  15. You two look so cute and cosy!
    Happy Anniversary!
    Communication, sharing a common interest and a spiritual grounding are important!

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  16. Hi Crystal. First of all, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY. As someone who just got married, I love this post and I love all your tips. I AGREE 100% with what you say about marriage is not a "'let's see if it works" deal. I am not against people living together before marriage. But what I AM so vehemently disagree with those who want to live together before marriage in order to use it as a "trial run". If it's true love, your heart knows it will work. If you need to test drive the person like a car, then it is not true love. At all. :)

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  17. Happy Anniversary to you and your husband Crystal... I could not agree with you more about how to have a happy and successful marriage for eternity. I think living together before marriage is exactly what you said... just trying things on. I have seen successful marriages where people lived together first but it entails a great deal of work. Marriage is A LOT if work (I hope to have that opportunity of work) .. I too don't talk about my religious beliefs as they are sacred to me and I don't want to be pushy. I will certainly answer questions and I'm grateful for my beliefs... Awesome list to live by :-)


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  18. OMG, Crystal!! I love your picture! You guys are beautiful! ^_^

    So much truth in this list and something that should be saved in case I ever get married one day (and I'm showing this to my brother).

    Happy Anniversary to you both! With many more to come. ^_^

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  19. Happy Anniversary! Glad you found what works for you though I'm not sure everything on your list is for everyone.

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  20. What a smart lady you are! My husband and I followed about the same path- never lived together, spent a year corresponding by letter. Both see our vows as a contract with God (so much so that I took out obey, not because I am some sort of rebel, but knew that was an outright lie before God- I knew I wasn't going to obey, why lie up front?)
    My nieces boyfriend scored high marks with this aunt when he told me he didn't have respect for guys who asked girls to live with them- you either know you love her and commit or don't waste her time. He is now my favorite young man!

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  21. Happy anniversary!

    Enjoy your time off.

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  22. What beautiful photos. Happy Anniversary.

    Love,
    Janie

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  23. Beautiful thoughts, Crystal. And happy anniversary!!!

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  24. Happy anniversary! And I love your wedding dress, by the way! I really like your list of secrets for a happy marriage, because even though I'm not married, I was wondering about how long-term couples make their relationships work. I especially agree with the part about listening; one thing I dislike about texting is that people are often multi-tasking when they text. It bothers me that they don't take the time to just sit, talk, and listen, even for just a few minutes, without doing a bunch of other stuff at the same time, because then it makes me feel like what I have to say isn't that important to them.

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  25. I'm with you on the 'not living together first' thing. People like to say living together first cuts down on the likelihood of divorce because the couple gets to know each other better before marriage. Well, living together is pretty much the norm these days and look at our divorce rate. It's the commitment, the willingness to start out by making that commitment that makes the difference. I think this post is spot on and my husband and I will be celebrating 46 years this spring.

    Happy Anniversary.

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  26. So agree with your grandmother! Communication is the key to all misunderstandings, and if you don't communication, you risk being misunderstood, definitely. Both have to communicate or it will be a very frustrating relationship for one of you! Smart grandma!

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  27. You DO look happy :) Happy anniversary, Crystal! A good marriage takes lots of hard work and you are certainly proof of that. Congratulations! May you have many, many more years together (p.s. I'm still married to my high school sweetheart, and proud of it! We married the old fashion way too. Today so many are afraid of the commitment. It's almost as if 'honeymoon' has lost its meaning. Sad, really sad).

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  28. I love these beautiful pictures of you and your hubby! I agree with so many of these, but especially #1. My hubby and I started out our marriage with "divorce is not an option." That and forgiveness I think are key.
    And yeah! I can't believe I'm a winner! :)

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  29. What a wonderful story, and lovely pictures. Such great advice. Yes, I believe living together first too often plants the idea that there's an exit door from the relationship, and you can't just necessarily turn that off after the wedding. Studies have shown that couples who live together first have a higher divorce rate. Happy anniversary!

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  30. I agree with just about everything you've said here, though I'm iffy on #1 - I've lived on my own for so long that I'd want to live with the other person first, before even proposing marriage, just to see if I *could* live with them. Because finding out that I couldn't would be a horrible thing to discover after the marriage. >_<

    Congratulations to you and your husband both, though, and I'll look forward to the 25th anniversary update. ^_^

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  31. Happy Anniversary. Hubby and I started out in a very long distance relationship. He was in Mississippi and I was in Michigan. He eventually moved up here and we lived together for 7 years before getting married. We knew it'd happen eventually but neither of us wanted to plan a wedding. Still didn't. We went to the courthouse and that was it. Most memorable day ever.

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  32. Hi again......I nominated you for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award at my blog :)

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  33. not a ton to celebrate this week, rough week for me! but this was an awesome post, congrats on your anniversary!! :)

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  34. Happy Anniversary! (Better late than never, right?:) Hope you had a great week. I'm with you on every single point here - great list!

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  35. Happy anniversary. This is such a beautiful post, written from the heart. Thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts on such an important matter. I've been married almost 19 years, and can attest to all of it being so true.

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  36. Happy Anniversary and congrats on 15 years! Although I'm still looking for 'the one', these are great tips to keep in mind.

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  37. You and your future husband had to communicate for two years by letter? I never would have lasted. I'm terrible at writing letters and use almost any excuse to avoid it.

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  38. Happy Anniversary! You both look great then and now. Great tips.

    Congrats to Jenni.

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  39. Wow! what a cool list, I agree with everything you said. Now all I got to do is find Mr Right..hehe

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  40. Happy Anniversary! 15 years is definitely something to celebrate. I agree that communication in a relationship is key!
    ~Jess

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  41. Happy Anniversary. Awesome photos. Thanks for sharing all the tips.

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  42. Hi Crystal - congratulations and am so pleased you're having time together and relaxing into another wonderful year together ... with kids + 1 on the way ...

    Great points - that we all should be aware of ... have a lovely happy time with lots of memories ... cheers Hilary

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  43. Speaking as someone who has been happily married to his soul mate and raising a family, I've boiled it down to this...there are two kinds of marriages: one where the man does as the woman says, and then there are unhappy marriages. Pretty simple actually:)

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  44. Happy Anniversary!!! Great Post!!! Crystal, Have a review of Moonless on my blog today if you're interested.

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  45. Happy Anniversary! Your list is great. I enjoy the best long-term marriage ever, and I can tell you will too by the priorities in your post. Best to you both!

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  46. Love this! And strongly agree on all points. I have a hope to get remarried one day but in the meantime I get stronger in always having God first in all things. Happy Anniversary!

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  47. Happy Anniversary! What great advice, Crystal. A lot of common sense and thought which a lot of people give to everything else but not their marriage. Everything needs to be worked at and given time to.

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  48. Happy anniversary! a little late--Thanks for the reminder about the secrets to a happy marriage. They shouldn't be secret, but we should shout them from the rooftops, right? Even after almost 45 years of marriage, your list is a good reminder. Thank you.

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  49. Amen and Amen I love this list and agree with every single point! (and huh, look at that, I'm happily married too. Praise God. We wouldn't have made it without him).

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Hit me with your cheese!