9 Tips for a Strong Marriage

Tender, affectionate multi-ethnic couple with baby
Hoxton/Sam Edwards / Getty Images

When people first start dating and then thinking about getting married, they are generally very nice to each other. After all, there's still time to back out. And no one wants to have the love of his or her life leave.

Newlywed Phase

Then the wedding takes place, and all is fun and games for a while. The honeymoon is typically spent in a romantic setting, and the couple spends most of their time gazing into each other's eyes and being all lovey-dovey. That's normal.

Time Passes

Unfortunately, the next normal thing is that this same couple starts to take each other for granted, which means that one or both people forget their manners when it's just the two of them. This is a huge mistake. You should treat your spouse at least as well as you did when you first got married. This might take some practice, but in the long run, it's worth it to have an enjoyable home life.

Tips for a Happy Marriage

Here are some married life etiquette tips that will help keep you happy as a couple:

  1. Listen. As tempting as it is to tune out your spouse, if you listen, you might learn something that can help keep your marriage interesting and fresh. Even when you are super busy with something other than your spouse, it's a good idea to set aside some time when all you do is pay attention to what he or she has to say.
  2. Talk. I've watched couples sitting in restaurants in silence throughout the entire meal. That breaks my heart because the person you should have the best conversations with is your spouse. Find some topics that interest both of you—current events, hobbies, and common passions—and discuss them at length. You don't even have to agree on all points. A debate can be fun as long as it doesn't cross the line of being mean spirited.
  3. Make time for each other. Busy schedules filled with jobs, children, hobbies, and sports can create a wedge in a marriage. Schedule some time to spend with your spouse to show that you care as much about the relationship as you do other aspects of your life.
  4. Remember. Don't forget special occasions, such as birthdays, anniversaries, and other events that should mean something to you as a couple. Presenting your husband with something special on the anniversary of the day you first met shows him that you value the time you've been together.
  5. Be honest. As soon as you start telling lies in your marriage, you create a portal to distrust. This doesn't mean you should blurt every single thing on your mind or tell your wife you think she's fat. It's more about being honest about important things that involve your relationship, family, your whereabouts, and finances. That said, avoid hurting your spouse's feelings by criticizing something he or she can't do anything about.
  6. Be a good roommate. Your spouse is the closest roommate you'll ever have, so give him or her the same courtesy you would have given your roommate back in college. Don't complain about him eating the last of the chocolate ice cream. Remember to put down the toilet seat, so she doesn't fall in when she gets up before dawn.
  7. Be a good friend. Along with being a roommate, your spouse should be your best friend. Nurture the relationship as you would someone whose friendship you value.
  8. Argue respectfully. There will come times in your marriage when you and your spouse disagree, and that's fine. Learn how to argue without accusing, belittling, or condemning the other person's opinions and values.
  9. Respect your extended family. After a couple is married, her family becomes his and vice versa. You don't have to like or approve of everything they do, but you should show respect for them. If they intrude on your marriage or cause friction between you and your spouse, you need to discuss it as a couple and show a united front.