Like it or not, the honeymoon period of a marriage is believed to last for only a year or two. For some couples, it’s cut short to around three, six, or nine months. The length of this happy and romantic stage actually varies from one relationship to another.
But the one thing I can tell for sure is – the honeymoon phase of most marriages has a shelf-life. It is expected to wear off over time. And you are not spared.
The challenge, however, is to survive the rough years without giving up on your vow. It’s a long, bumpy road and the goal is to reach the other side unscathed.
Are you ready for the challenge? Here are 5 secrets of happy couples who kept their love fresh despite being married for 20 years.
5 Proven Ways To Keep A Happy Married Life
1.Be Emotionally, Mentally, And Physically Connected – At All Costs
One of the most common reasons why married people cheat is emotional dissatisfaction. Men, for one, are known to commit infidelity over frustrations about wives no longer nurturing their needs. They complain of spouses who become too occupied with work that they lose mental and emotional connection.
Wives, on the other hand, long for time, love, and good conversations. They usually disengage in marriage out of boredom and to fill the physical and emotional void left by husbands who failed to show affection and attention.
This shouldn’t be the way to go.
Your marriage has good chances of survival if you give importance to your emotional, mental, and physical connection. Quality time with good communication and sex is key.
No matter how long and busy your day gets, it’s of high importance to be emotionally, mentally, and physically connect with your spouse. If your swamped schedule restricts your time and energy, think of simple habits to stretch your day.
Like waking up early to have an early morning sex and breakfast, maybe? Or, going to the gym with your spouse after a day’s work? And perhaps, you can chill over Netflix in the living room with your favorite pizza and popcorn while cuddling and talking about how your days went.
These simple activities should help keep your emotional, mental and physical connection with your partner healthy. Though understandably we live in a time when jobs demand many hours, you should still set your priorities straight and your spouse must be atop the list.
2.Foster Relationships With Friends Outside Marriage
At first, you might think that this has nothing to do with your marriage. But Stephanie Coontz, author of seven great books on marriage and families, said in an article “How To Stay Married” that “Even the best-matched couples need to find gratification and support from sources other than their partner.”
I have to agree with Coontz on this. Uncovering new experiences with friends outside marriage should help personal growth. Having a support group and someone to talk to about matters not involving your marriage is a necessity to keep you sane. I mean, you can’t let your world revolve around one person for the rest of your life. You need learning, adventures, and growth.
In the same article, Coontz also mentioned therapist and author of “The Marriage Makeover” Joshua Coleman who noted that when couples do not find support from people outside their marriage, “they have less to offer each other and fewer ways to replenish their relationship.” It’s totally relatable as one cannot be confined to a single relationship and expect to learn how to manage his (or her) marriage well.
We learn from our own experiences but we can also learn from others’. A support system or a group of friends can help you achieve a higher level of well-being. It is important that you have someone to lean on when things are turning from bad to worse. They can help strengthen your coping mechanisms and handle difficult situations.
Remember, your relationship with your spouse is top priority but it’s not the only relationship you have to foster. Before getting married, you have families and friends. They remained as your families and friends even after exchanging “I Dos” with your spouse. And they need you as much as you need them.
Don’t rely solely on your marriage for happiness. If you do, you are likely to be disappointed. The honeymoon phase of your marriage, as mentioned above, shall end. And you can’t let your happiness wear off when this happens.
You have to explore and find happiness in other things and people. Leave each other a room to grow. Go and see the world outside your marriage. You’ll thank yourself for doing so after 20 years.
3.Stop the Blame Cycle
Stop the blame cycle. It kills your relationship.
Blame can kill a marriage. Most couples in long-term marriage do not just complain of their lack of time for each other. They are also short of time for chores at home and other activities outside their relationship. It is because of these why some couples usually start the day with conflicts.
Do you remember that morning when your wife failed to do the groceries? You started yelling because you can’t find pancakes or milk in the fridge.
And that morning when you found your lawn unmown. Do you remember how you nagged at your husband for not doing the chore?
See what happened in there? You chose to blame without trying to know the reason behind the problem. Why did your spouse miss to do the groceries or lawn the grass? Was he (or she) sick or something?
The act of blaming vibrates into criticism and humiliation. When you blame someone, you criticize him (or her) for failing at a task. You also indirectly humiliate that person for not being able to fulfill his (or her) duties.
Do you want to make your spouse feel criticized and humiliated?
Blaming is destructive. So instead of blaming or pointing fingers, why not learn to compromise?
To compromise is defined as to “settle a dispute by mutual concession” and to “accept standards that are lower than is desirable.” To effectively stop the blame cycle, watch your words and learn to compromise.
In relationships, compromising could mean giving without losing. Using the example above, if your wife forgot to buy you milk, you can always buy your own. You give her your understanding and you solve the problem without losing. A short trip to the grocery won’t hurt.
Using the second example, if your husband has no time to mow the lawn, then hire a lawnmower. Or maybe you can ask your husband to find time to do it over the weekend. You give your patience and try to resolve it without arguing. Hiring a lawnmower is easy-peasy, won’t really cost that much, right?
See, there should always be a better way to communicate your frustrations about the things that your spouse failed to do for you. Blaming cannot resolve anything but compromising could.
Compromises often create win-win situations. But be mindful of unhealthy compromises.
You must know when and when not to compromise. Set boundaries on what to give up and act when you feel that your needs are taken for granted.
4.Make Up For Your Mistakes
Let’s get your facts straight. Saying “sorry” is not equal to “making up for your mistakes.” Apparently, simply apologizing for your blunders doesn’t mean you want to repent for them.
Which is why, if you did your spouse wrong, you are obliged to “at least” make it right by repairing the “damage.” But how?
In an interesting article from Time, it was elucidated that there are five positive interactions for every single negative one. This pattern is what researchers found in stable marriages.
But the more intriguing part is, there’s actually an increased risk for a divorce if this pattern isn’t met. As you can see, the ratio is 5:1. Meaning, you must make up with five good deeds for every mistake you make.
If this is to be considered, you are likely to recover from relationship mistakes if you multiply your efforts a minimum of five times. However, the reality of marriage doesn’t include a tally table where you can count the good and the bad. This is where the challenge sets in.
After years of marriage, you might run out of ideas on how to please your spouse every time you commit mistakes. But to help you get through this dare, keep in mind that “I’m sorry” doesn’t make the cut. And below are some tips that might work for you.
- Be creative. Think of unique ways to put a smile on your spouse’s face. Remember his (or her) favorites and make a surprise out of them.
- Be real. Tell your spouse how sincere you are with your apologies and do your best not to commit those mistakes again.
- Be sweet. Always make your spouse feel loved. Show appreciation and give him (or her) compliments when they occur to you.
5.Keep The Excitement Going
Not enough sex, not enough time, not enough communication = BOREDOM.
Boredom, after 20 years of marriage, is hard to get rid of. It will keep knocking on your door over the course of time.
This is especially so because once a person gets intimately close with someone, the magic and the spark between them usually diminishes. They commonly place themselves in their “comfort zones” and being excited to be with their partner no longer becomes part of their days.
Typically, most marriages look like this. But if you want to remain happy in your relationship until the end of time, then you must execute plans to prevent being too comfortable. And you know what you need to do!
Just keep the excitement in your relationship going and you won’t have to worry about getting bored for the rest of your life. The good news is, there are actually quite a few things you can do to keep the enthusiasm in your marriage alive. I listed some of them for you below.
- Share new experiences together. Find new habits and activities that you are comfortable doing with each other.
- Don’t neglect date nights. Make it a habit to set a night for your spouse for an intimate dinner or a movie date.
- Travel together. Going on a trip uncovers new adventures that should help both of you bond. It’s a great way to revitalize yourselves, as well as your relationship.
Make an effort to surprise. Surprises keep the excitement in a relationship alive. But surprises don’t necessarily have to be extravagant. A simple candlelight dinner to you prepared by yourself would make your spouse happy.
- Get naughty. You guys are married and you have the license to get naughty. Spice up your sex life and keep boredom out of your bed.
- Pay attention to your looks. Do your best to be attractive to your partner. Making an effort to look good would make your spouse feel special to you. You don’t have to pay for expensive makeovers and gym memberships to look good. Good diet and exercise routines should do.
- Set time apart. To excite your spouse more, you must spend some time apart. It shall give you both the freedom to do activities you like without thinking of your partner. A time apart would make you miss each other and make things exciting when you return to each other.
Always keep in mind that maintain a happy married life is hard work. So just because you feel your relationship is running into chaos and there’s nothing else you can do, it’s time to detach. That’s a no no.
You can’t give up on the person you love and vowed to love forever. Your happiness with the one you chose to spend the rest of your life with will always depend on you and not on him (or her).
If you decide to make it work, it shall work. And if you decide to be happy, you will be.