I often wonder what people mean when they ask if someone is “happily married.” Most married people, I’d assume, would say they would like to be happy in their decision to be married to their spouse, but often times, that’s not what the question is getting at.
When people talk about being happily married, whether consciously or not, we’re thinking of what the spouse is doing. If you’re asking if a co-worker is happily married, you’re wondering if the wife is really taking care of the home or if the husband appreciates that he’s got a good thing.
But being happily married starts with us. Much of the frustration that I’ve encountered in my marriage is because I was somehow trying to direct our marriage by dictating how my husband should act. If only he’d ____, I’d think to myself, our marriage would be much better. But I missed the fundamental rule of marriage and of life: You can only control what you do.
So if you say you want a great marriage, you’ve got to put in the work. That means:
Not letting your attitude overshadow your actions. You might be upset because of work, the kids getting on your nerves or your friends are bringing too much drama to your life. But don’t take your stress out on your spouse.
Giving each other space.
Setting aside a regular time to talk and “check in.” How do you know if things are running smoothly if you’re not making communication a priority?
Recognizing that the only two opinions that matter are yours and your spouse’s.
Praying and practicing true forgiveness.
Treating your spouse BETTER than you’d like to be treated.
Never forgetting that marriage is a choice. You chose to get married and you choose to stay married. Remember why you made that choice and keep it at the forefront.
Working to ensure you learn your spouse’s love language and striving to keep their love tank at least 75% full.
Making the daily effort to connect. Marriage, unfortunately, doesn’t work well on auto-pilot.
- By Tara Pringle Jefferson
Tara Pringle Jefferson is managing editor of BlackAndMarriedWithKids.com. She’s also the author of Make It Happen: The Young Mommy Guide To Creating The Career You Crave.