Practical healthy relationship advice & tips for married couples.
Remarkable & happy couples don’t grow apart but they grow together and keep the romance going #couplegoals
Never in my wildest dreams had I ever imagined that I would one day be writing an article sharing my relationship advice and tips for married couples, cuz I had had my share of heartbreaks and heartaches before I met my husband.
But here I am today doing exactly that, talking about happy and successful marriages and the secrets behind them… courtesy, 9 years of marriage and 10 years of being together and inseparable (and over the moon happy and fulfilled while at it, well, for the most part)!!! #notexaggerating #touchwood
Today, Vinay and I are celebrating our 10 Years Meeting Anniversary and 9 Years Wedding Anniversary! That’s right, it was a mere coincidence that we got married on the same date exactly a year after we first set our eyes on each other 😉
And whew, what an adrenaline-fueled adventurous ride this has been!
‘Good marriage is like good wine, it only gets better with age!’
To some, 10 years might not seem like a whole lot but it sure is a big milestone to celebrate, especially when we are both still just as head over heels in love with each other (if not more) as we were during the ‘honeymoon phase’ of our relationship!
That’s not to say that we are perfect and we don’t have any issues in our marriage, god knows we do, just like you, and just like every.single.couple on planet Earth!
To me, that is the most beautiful thing about marriage – the troubles, the fights, the lows, how two people try to figure things out in such situations (individually, and together), fight for their relationship, and learn and grow and strengthen their relationship (and marriage) even more in the process…
So yes, we fight, we argue, we have issues that need to be resolved, just like you, and just like every.single.couple on planet Earth!
But the thing about us (and every remarkable, happy couple and healthy marriage) is that we both recognize and know that we are a work in progress and that our marriage is a work in progress. And we always show up for ourselves, and we always show up for each other, and we are willing to put our ego aside (boy oh boy, and that is not always easy) and learn from our mistakes and try to fix things, and correct each other along the way.
So yes, we have learned a thing or two about healthy and happy relationships in these 10 years of being together and today I am sharing some of that wisdom with you all.
P.S. I meant to share 9 tips here but as I started to write, the list grew to well two dozen, so splitting the post into a few parts. I will also try and bribe the hubs to share his side of the story, so stay tuned…
And just know that I (we) are in no way experts, but this is what works for us and helps us stay happy in our marriage! Though the basic principles of any healthy relationship largely remain the same, every couple and their dynamic is different, and it is never a one-size-fits-all married couples, so take the core of what relationship advice applies to your marriage and make it your own.
Plus, none of this healthy relationship advice is rocket science either, most of it is pure common sense, but more often than not we choose to ignore the signs and go about our lives instead of acknowledging, confronting, addressing, and resolving the issues.
9 HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP ADVICE FOR MARRIED COUPLES
1. MARRIAGE IS WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT
Marriage can be full of love, passion, affection, kindness, and fun, or marriage can be a living hell filled with heaps of frustration, stress, sadness, and tears. As a married couple, the fate of your marriage is in your and your partner’s hands (for the most part) – what you want out of your marriage? and how much work are you willing to put into it?
Honestly, Vinay and I never felt like our marriage was ‘work’ if anything this is something that comes quite naturally to both of us. Yes, we both need to work on ourselves in order to make our marriage better and better by the day, but we have never had to put any work into making our marriage work. Does that make sense?
We have both been extremely lucky and blessed in that sense, and we are both immensely grateful for how our marriage has turned out to be! Not at all saying this to brag, but just saying that it is important that you know what you want to get out of your marriage and work towards it (whether it comes naturally or not).
We strive to have a healthy relationship with each other (always been our #1 priority), and also, we want to be a role model for our son, and having a happy and successful marriage is at the core of it. I mean, why would we be married and not give it our all to make it the best dang thing ever possible, right!?
2. COMMUNICATION IS THE FOUNDATION OF HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS
Communication is key to a happy marriage. Communication is the most important aspect of a relationship, marriage or any other. It is also more than just mere words, remember, actions speak louder than words.
Healthy and effective communication is what makes or breaks a marriage. Being honest and open about your feelings, needs, wants, and concerns with your spouse is crucial. If something is troubling or bothering you then make your partner aware of it instead of bottling up your feelings. There is only so much one can hold back and eventually you are bound to explode, and that could destruct everything!
Know that communication is also a two-way street. If there is lack of communication from your partner then take matters into your own hands and probe enough to get him/her to talk about his/her feelings. After all, this is your marriage and you should be in charge of it!
Vinay and I have always had open and honest dialogues about anything and everything under the sun. Neither of us shy away from discussing the important, the big, or the small stuff. Sure, I give him the silent treatment when I am pissed (something I am trying to fix, told ya, working on self) but he is always persistent and eventually gets me to talk.
And when this regular communication doesn’t happen between us, because life got crazy busy, is when we have issues come up in our marriage.
3. CHOOSE YOUR SPOUSE EVERY SINGLE DAY
Marriage is falling in love with the same person every single day, and it is choosing the same person every single day.
It is one thing to say ‘I do’ aka ‘I choose you’ when you get married but it is another to say ‘I choose you’ every.single.day to your spouse, come what may, for the rest of your life.
You need to, want to, choose to love your spouse every single day, even when things are not all sunshine and rainbows. Through all the life’s highs and lows, and through all the mountains and valleys, you still choose each other, every single day. And you choose each other, every single day, when things are fun, exciting and inspiring, or when they are dull, monotonous and draining.
That is what makes a successful and happy marriage, you 100% need to be committed to each other every single day, no matter what. If there is ever a slight doubt, then quickly remind yourself why you chose your partner and why you fell in love with him/her in the first place?
Between Vinay and I, there’s never been a day in all these years of being married to each other, when we have had to question, ‘if we still choose each other every single day?’ #touchwood We love each other and care for each other every single day, no matter how mad, how annoyed, or how upset we are with each other.
4. LEARN EACH OTHER’S LOVE LANGUAGE
Just like we all have different personalities and varied likes, dislikes, and interests, we all also have different love languages aka we all speak different love languages.
Everyone gives and receives love differently, and without a proper understanding of your partner’s love language, you might be expressing your love towards him/her in a language that he/she does not understand, and hence does not respond or reciprocate.
For a happy and fulfilling marriage, both husband and wife need to learn each other’s love language so they are both on the same page and understand each other’s way of wanting (receiving) love and expressing (giving) love.
The Five Love Languages are –
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch
- Acts of Service
- Receiving Gifts
Both you and your spouse should take the couples love language quiz to find out your love language as well as learn what love language your partner speaks.
Though Vinay and I hadn’t ever explicitly analyzed or discussed it, we both sort of understood each other’s love language early on (in the process of understanding each other from all aspects). And to a large extent, we both just naturally spoke/speak to the other in their love language(s), maybe it is because our way of wanting love and expressing love is also very similar?
5. MARRIAGE IS NOT ALWAYS 50/50
This one was a shocker to me, I was always of the belief that marriage is always 50/50. But breaking news, it is NOT!
Through various phases of your relationship, there will be times when you take the lead, and at other times your spouse does so and you play more of a behind-the-scenes role. Even between husband and wife we all go through our own individual journey in life (career, kids, growth, etc), and one person should always rise to the occasion, step up, and do more than the other partner, and you swap places next time around. And that is A-OK!
And this was made all too clear to me by the very wise Kathy (of @peppyfitfooide) and her healthy relationship advice aka words of wisdom (a piece of incredible and uncommon marriage advice passed down to her by her grandma, runs in the genes :))
“Marriage is not 50/50 like everyone tells you. Marriage is 20/80, 70/30, 60/40. Marriage is a give and take. Sometimes you take and sometimes you give.” Read the rest of her relationship advice for married couples here.
When I heard Kathy say this out loud, it made perfect sense to me and it dawned on me that this is in fact how our marriage had been all along, it was not always 50/50, sometimes Vinay did more and at other times I did more, and I had been ok with it (despite what my belief had been).
Except, after hearing Kathy, my belief changed, and ever since, I have gladly been accepting of the fact that a happy marriage is not always 50/50. Stepping up when you need and doing more (even without being asked) is one of the pillars of a successful marriage.
6. SHOW GRATITUDE OFTEN
Do NOT ever take things for granted. And never underestimate the power of a compliment. Always appreciate the small, the big, and the in-between things your spouse does, whether it is his/her responsibility or not, it goes a really long way.
It is important to acknowledge everything the other person does, even if it is a part of their (unwritten) job description. Cooking, cleaning, trash, dishes, laundry, errands, kids, and everything else in between, some of them may be taxing and some may not require as much energy, but everything takes some effort. So show appreciation every single occasion.
By saying thank you to your spouse and expressing your gratitude, it shows him/her that you recognize, respect and value what he/she does for you and your family (again, even if it comes as a responsibility of being married). An important factor that takes the relationship from ‘being married’ to ‘being happily married’.
Not only do Vinay and I show gratitude and say thank you to each other whenever possible, but we also randomly take on each other’s chores (without being asked to do so) and do it for the other person as a way of saying thank you and express our appreciation.
As I write this, I realize that we have never exclusively discussed it, it’s just something that we both just do. And it is also now occurring to me that there is so much more we can do here for each other in this space, so this is going to be one of the ‘things to work on’ for us.
7. SET GOALS TOGETHER
Setting goals together as a couple indicates that you are being intentional about your marriage (and family).
As a couple, it is important to have a shared vision for your marriage (and your family). And in order to make that vision come true, it is essential that your partner and you set goals and have a well-defined plan of action to achieve them.
Setting goals together begins with having a meaningful and deep conversation with each other to discuss the direction in which you both want your relationship (and family) to grow and evolve during the year (quarter or month). This should include all aspects of your life from career to kids to finance to everything else in between.
And finally, put everything down on paper so your goals seem more permanent, and this way you are more likely to achieve them. It also helps you both to keep tabs on how you are making progress w.r.t the said goals.
Vinay and I went through this exercise at the beginning of the year and it gave me immense satisfaction to talk through our vision and goals, and in the process, it also brought more clarity on so many aspects for both of us.
I discuss the goal-setting process in depth in this post (including examples of our own goals for the year), give it a read to learn more.
8. SUPPORT YOUR SPOUSE’S DREAMS
This is one of the true tests of your relationship and marriage, identify and support each other’s individual dreams and push one another to work towards making those dreams come true.
First and foremost, invest time to dig deeper and truly understand your spouse’s dream(s) and why it is important to them, and it is ok if that dream is not fully defined. Assure your partner that you believe in his/her potential and their dreams. And support them in every step of the way, even when they doubt their own dreams at times, especially when they doubt their own dreams.
It is extremely natural for us all to go through phases of self-doubt, feel discouraged or lose motivation to work towards those dreams (especially when they are unconventional and involve taking big risks), so be there to tell him/her otherwise.
Remind your partner why they started in the first place. Encourage and build them up, use positive and reinforcing words, tell them you admire their drive and resilience, ask how you can help and step up to do so in every possible way (make sacrifices if need be, it’s called a partnership).
And boy, have Vinay and I been a true testament to this!? We have, in every possible way… When Vinay quit his job and went to get his MBA (and then made a career switch), I was the one who pushed him to take the plunge and go for it, because I knew what he wanted and I never want either one of us to regret not going after our dreams.
And shortly after, we swapped roles when I made the decision to quit my secure corporate job to figure out what else I wanted to do with my life (which has been blogging full time for the past few years). Vinay has been my ultimate supporter and my #1 cheerleader all along, he never doubted my dreams and he has always stood by me, encouraging me and cheering me on. Even though I have never had a definite plan/path forward with what I currently do, he says he sees my passion and believes in my potential. Well, this could be a whole other post, so I will stop here.
9. ASSESS & EVALUATE YOUR RELATIONSHIP
Much like how you take out time to evaluate your performance at work, it is crucial to routinely assess and evaluate your marriage!
A happy and successful marriage is one where the couples are thriving and not just surviving, and it is possible only if you consciously or subconsciously assess your relationship on an ongoing basis. Regardless of how long you have known each other or been married for, hit the pause button and do a regular check-in with your spouse.
Be honest, committed, and have a thoughtful discussion with him/her – talk through how you currently feel about each other, discuss what is working well and what isn’t, how you can improve things, what seem to be the current (or potential) issues in your marriage and proactively come up with amicable solutions.
This process is one I am extremely proud of because I came up with this idea a few years back and Vinay (as always) is willing to hear me out and give anything and everything a try. Because he makes an effort to see where I am coming from and recognizes the immense benefit from following through with my suggestions (and I am super proud of him for that).
How we go about this process is that we first evaluate the current phase of our lives (situations) and then we design a course of action to implement going forward. Once we try this new action plan for a while we have regular check-points every few weeks (sometimes even every few days) to see how we are making progress and if we need to make further adjustments.
And let me tell you, this has been HUGE for us and our marriage, this process not only helps keep us both happy but it also brings us much closer and accelerates the growth of our relationship.
There you have it, my 9 best practical relationship advice and tips for a happy and healthy marriage. But don’t run away just yet, check back later because I have several more gems to share, including what it is that Vinay and I struggle within our marriage and steps we have taken (are taking) to address those issues.
And as you go, just know that no marriage is perfect, every marriage has its strengths and areas which need improvement. We all just need to figure out how to play to its strengths while figuring out and working towards addressing its weaknesses.
“A good marriage isn’t something you find, it’s something you make, and you have to keep on making it”