How to Have a Great Marriage

Six Parts:Putting your best self forwardStaying close and fostering respectSpending time togetherPreserving harmonyCoping with hardshipMarriage Help

The wedding is over and so is the excitement of planning the wedding. Soon you will be settling in to married life. Having the perfect marriage is a mix of compromise and honesty, not subservient behavior.

Part 1
Putting your best self forward

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    Be yourself from the start of any relationship. If you begin the relationship by putting on the front of a perfect hybrid version of you and some sort of Stepford wife, what happens when the cracks begin to show? Be yourself from day one, and your spouse will have proven that you are accepted and loved for who you really are, not who you are pretending to be.
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    Exercise your sense of humor. A good, stout sense of humor is indispensable for a great marriage. Try to see the humor in difficult situations, it'll help you both roll with tough times much better.

Part 2
Staying close and fostering respect

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    Expect to have to work on maintaining the relationship. Remember that marriage is a nuts and bolts arrangement. While you're planning your wedding, you may entertain fairy-tale notions of a life lived happily ever after. The reality of marriage is that sometimes, it's just a day to day grind - one or both of you may be tense, on edge, bored, not happy with the other one, not feel so warm and fuzzy. It's not all about your feelings. Repeat: It is not all about your feelings. It's about your commitment to one another. Whether or not you "feel" like you're in love, "feel" you're getting your needs met, or whatever, the reality is, you have sworn a vow to one another. A lot of the time, marriage isn't romantic at all - it's about teamwork and getting the job done every single day.
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    Respect each other (especially in public). Public wounds penetrate deeply and create a core of humiliation that grows resentment and condescension, two things deadly to a good marriage.
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    Appreciate your partner's strengths as well as their weaknesses. They chose to be with you because there are aspects of your personality that they can learn from and absorb. Show them how much you love them by being supportive when they are weak and proud when they are strong. Listen to what they say, you may learn something.
    • Show appreciation and don't ever take him/her for granted or you will miss him/her when they're gone!
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    • You are made differently, that's why you were attracted to each other. Most people clash about these differences, but when you realize that your strengths compensate for your spouse's weaknesses, then their strengths will cover your weaknesses too.
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    Ask yourself what you can do today to make your spouse's life happier. By finding one way each day to make your partner's life just a little bit nicer, you will never forget that you truly do care for him or her. Doing nice things for your mate makes you think nice thoughts about him or her. It's a good habit.
    • Do the little things. Waking up to a hot cup of coffee or an ironed shirt, or coming home to lit candles are little ways to show that you care.
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    Kiss your spouse for at least 5 seconds before you leave in the morning and before going to bed at night.
    • Hug and hold hands often, daily.
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    Compliment each other every day. It doesn't take much to make your spouse feel good. Be sincere and when you're given a compliment, even if you don't agree, just say "thank you."
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    Say thank you for the little things (doing the dishes, clearing the table, putting a new roll of toilet paper out, and do these things without expectations).
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    Take turns making decisions. It's no fun when someone asks you for your opinion and you say, "whatever you want." If all they wanted was what they wanted, they wouldn't have asked you. Be polite and give a complete and honest answer.

Part 3
Spending time together

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    Make time to sit down together once a day and share time together. Even if it's only 10 minutes before bed, talk, cuddle, and share each others company.
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    Keep dating. At least once a month, have a special evening out with another married couple so you can laugh and learn from each others relationship. Have at least one romantic night out per month and bring the romance home with you!
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    Take a class together. There are some restaurants that will teach you how to make a meal from start to finish or you can both learn to play a musical instrument. It's a great way to spend time together and see how each other learns.
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    Exercise together. Being healthy and taking care of yourself shows your partner that you want to be around for a long time and will be able to care for them if they get ill.
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    Go dancing with your spouse on weekends, it's great exercise and fun. If you can't dance then take a lesson together and learn a dance to enjoy with each other.
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    Go on a walk together. The exercise is not only good for your physical health, it gets the blood pumping through your brains and helps you think more clearly. The views and smells of nature will help relax both of you. The clear minds and the soothing affects will create a great environment to be open and honest and talk about everything.

Part 4
Preserving harmony

Daily living

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    Shut up and listen! You do much more learning with your mouth closed and your mind open. You have one mouth and two ears so you can listen twice as much as you talk.
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    Give each other the benefit of any doubts. You have built a relationship based on trust. Don't assume that your spouse is doing things for the purpose of irritating you - maybe s/he just doesn't realize something s/he does is bothering you. Let your spouse know about things that bother you without assuming the worst of him or her, and once it's out in the open give your mate time to make adjustments and corrections.
    • Don't assume a thing! Talk, talk, talk. Plan your diary together and synchronize the following day ahead of time.
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    Try to let the little annoyances go. Ask yourself if something irritating you is really worth fighting over. Is something wrong, or is it just different from the way you would do it? Allow differences to go by without comment. If something is really bothering you, talk about it in a non-accusatory way, and see if you can work it out without arguing.
    • Laugh at the little mistakes in life, hold the drama for major crisis! Don't make an issue of the "toothpaste tube", laugh at the small nuisances and you will be a happier person for it!
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    Find ways to share responsibility. If you're both working 80 hours a week, why should the wife still have to do all the cooking and cleaning? Try to find a mix of jobs you both do better, e.g. dishes and lawn mowing, and share responsibility. Find ways of creating a routine that involves everyone, i.e.: “If you take the bins out, I’ll bring them in", “You wash, I’ll dry", etc. This will avoid the nagging housewife syndrome. Remember, you will be living together forever( til death do you part) - save some for tomorrow. The world won't come to an end if you don't finish all the laundry today.
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    Keep no secrets, and avoid even the appearance of any hanky panky. Being transparent with your partner is important, because it shows you each trust one another with every detail of your lives. If you're harboring secrets, they will eventually be found out and that will spell trouble for your marriage. Keeping things clear and open prevents suspicion and jealousy. Don't do things to get a rise out of your spouse, and if someone at the office is hitting on you and won't stop, tell your boss about it and ask that one of you be transferred. If you maintain a clean appearance and an honest, open communication with your partner, you will be trusted when it's truly imperative.
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    Don’t expect perfection. Remember, your spouse is human, and so are you. Make allowances for the human condition: tired, overworked, over-stressed, family illnesses, personal illnesses, and simple frailty.
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    Beware of the influence and attitudes of in laws. Don't allow in laws to become outlaws! Keep your distance. Don't live as if you are extended branches of an untouchable hierarchy. Power struggles caused by in-laws are undermining of marriage and must be avoided.

When arguing

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    Argue softly. How you say things can have a larger impact that what you say. Remain calm and speak in a normal tone of voice.
    • Draw up "rules of engagement" (fair fighting rules). For example: "Stick to the topic", or "Never generalize, such as saying "You always...".
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    • Don't argue standing up. Choose a place where you can sit and discuss a situation like mature adults. Standing allows the liberty of waving your hands around and stomping like a child. Avoid it!
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    Be cautious and think before you choose the words you use. Before you speak ask yourself this: If you or your spouse died that moment, would you want what you are about to say to be the last words you shared?
    • When you disagree, never insult the other person's character, but stick to the point at hand. For example: The glass vase is broken by accident. Don't say: "You are so clumsy". This is hurtful and degrading. Stick to the factual point.
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    Don't be afraid to go to bed angry. A lot of well-meaning people say that you shouldn't let the sun set on a fight. But it's far better to simply come to a point in the argument where you can stop fighting actively and sleep on it. Instead of continuing an argument that is escalating out of control and going in circles, stopping, resting, and waking refreshed can give you new perspective, and help you come to a better and more satisfying resolution than just fighting it out until you're both battered, bloody, and after you've said things you can never take back. Sleeping on it will also help you allow residual negative feelings to dissipate - you don't always just say, "Okay, that's it, argument over," and return to those warm, loving feelings - sometimes resentment lingers awhile. Let it go - get some rest. You'll both feel better in the morning.
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    Forgive, forgive, forgive. The three most important words for a good marriage.
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    Learn from your mistakes. When you say "I'm sorry", mean it! That means you won't repeat the action. Apologizing and then repeating the behavior shows your mate that you weren't that sorry after all, and it erodes trust over time.
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    Accept responsibility for your actions and choices. Be honest in all aspects of your relationship. If you have not been, start now!

Part 5
Coping with hardship

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    Plan for down times. You will have much less stress to deal with if you work together to plan a budget, accumulate at least a small savings account ($500 emergency fund can work wonders), and prepare for the times when things go wrong, life will be much smoother.
    • Budget sensibly from the outset. It is preferable to mutually consider future expenses and agree!
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    Act like everything's okay. If you're having a rough patch, feeling like you just can't remember what attracted you to him in the first place, wondering what possessed you to marry her... just smile and behave yourself in a kind, gentle way. Act like everything is normal. In fact, go out of your way to be kind, thoughtful, and caring toward your mate. It may sound weird, but if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and act like nothing's wrong, eventually, everything really will be normal, okay, and even better.
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    Do something nice for your partner during a rough patch. Cold shouldering or constant arguing about a contentious issue will likely just drive you apart. A thoughtful gesture can go a long way in helping you feel closer to each other, making it that much more likely that you will work through your problems. This works especially well if you feel like your partner does not compliment or do nice things for you often any more. Start complimenting them and make it a point to be nice -- they'll want to do something nice for you!
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    Try to find something nice about your partner every day, and say it to them! Whether it's a compliment on his/her outfit or a thank you for just taking out the trash, it always feels good to get a little boost from the person you love. And you'll feel good doing the boosting.

Marriage Help

Sample I Statements

Sample Keys to a Good Marriage


  • Try a "Sunday night roundup". Go to bed earlier on a Sunday, and sit up and talk about the weekend, and what you both have coming up next week. It’s a great way to really catch up.
  • Go on a date once a week! Take your wife on a date every Friday or Saturday. This gives you time away from the kids, and some quality one on one time together.
  • Also try making Monday evenings a standard to spend time together as a family. Round up the kids and share an uplifting message, and end with some treats.
  • Take warm baths together to 'catch-up' on issues that may not have been fully addressed. Nothing quite like being warm, wet, and naked while discussing difficult issues i.e. it's hard to get into an argument in the tub!
  • Listen and acknowledge each other's needs in the marriage. This will help form a better bond in the matrimony, thus excluding any room for temptation such as infidelity.


  • Avoid being overly critical or defensive. If you are arguing and your spouse makes a gesture to end the argument through humor or apology, try to take it. You can always talk through the issue when you are calm.
  • Make sure you have a really clear, open plan involving the finances. Many people have difficulty in their marriage due to money issues.
  • Marriage is hard work. Plan effectively, plan holidays and plan expenses. Don't create nasty surprises for one another.

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Categories: Married Life