By the time this posts we will have just celebrated twenty-four years of marriage! Yep! Happy anniversary to us! Realizing we’ve been married for over half of our lives has us reminiscing lately. Sometimes it feels like we’ve blinked to find ourselves married for a quarter of a century. But reflecting on seasons we’ve walked through together reminds us that it indeed has been that long. There have been some tough days, but overall, we have had a very happy marriage.
Every marriage adventure is different! We see some couples living in wedded bliss, while others are struggling just to stay married. In last week’s blog post, Shiny Happy People, we posed the question, “what do happy couples do that makes them happy?” We listed six out of twelve.
- Happy couples are nice to each other!
- Happy couples go to bed at the same time.
- Happy couples develop common interests.
- Happy couples don’t nitpick each other.
- Happy couples touch base with each other throughout the day.
- Happy couples touch each other often.
But we think happy couples also do six more things! We talked about them in-depth on Monday’s podcast, but here’s a rundown for you.
7. Happy couples talk about everything and nothing. Healthy heartfelt communication can be the foundation of a good marriage. But sometimes we underestimate the importance of daily conversation. Couples who enjoy talking about everyday things feel more connected in general. If you create a culture of open communication in your home, you can talk about things that happen to you throughout the day but can also dig into heart issues as they arise. There’s no formula for how much small talk vs. heart talk should happen, and there needs to be a sensitivity to the needs of each spouse’s personality. However, it’s important to make sure that both are happening on some level regularly.
8. Happy couples make trust and forgiveness their natural default. Trust takes such a long time to be built but can be lost in an instant, which is why it has to be guarded so diligently. It takes time to rebuild trust once it’s lost. Forgiving our spouse for hurting us in the little and large things is not letting them off the hook and condoning what they did. It lets our own heart off the hook for retribution and allows us to heal rather than become bitter. 1 Corinthians 13:4 says, “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” It’s an intentional choice to clear the record to reconcile the relationship. Forgiveness takes time, intentionality, and practice, but happy couples look for the best in each other and willingly forgive when they’ve been offended.
9. Happy couples unplug from their devices. They give each other undivided attention. Unplugging is tough on an entertainment level in our gaming, social media, and binge-watch society. Scrolling through Instagram to connect with friends or getting sucked down YouTube holes can become a relationship thief. And disconnecting from devices can become even more difficult when our work emails and texts follow us home, holding us hostage at all hours of the night. We have to police ourselves on how available we are to our work-life when we are at home. Co-workers, tv shows, social media, and the latest gaming system will perpetually be available to us. However, if we are more connected with those devices than our spouse, we may find ourselves sitting alone with them one day.
10. Happy couples get away together at least once a year. When our daily routines keep us moving at a frenetic pace, we have to carve out large chunks of time to reconnect with our spouse. There’s nothing like taking a weekend or week-long trip to allow you to relax, have fun together, and reconnect. It’s tough to find someone to keep our children for a whole week so we can run away, so we break it up and try to take two-weekend trips each year. Two nights away (three are even better) gives us time to set responsibilities aside and focus all our attention on each other. Try it! You might be surprised at what might be rekindled in a couple of uninterrupted nights alone!
11. Happy couples plan their future together. Something is ignited in our hearts when we dream about what’s coming next. I remember planning our wedding and riding around looking for our first house, then making plans for having our first child. Dreaming together binds our hearts together. Marriage is an adventure! We’ll make plans, and they will change along the way. We’ll get sidetracked, and sometimes sidelined from the trip we laid out at the start. But planning our future as a couple keeps our hearts focused on finishing this adventure as we started it… together.
12. Happy couples listen to The Marriage Adventure Podcast! Shameless plug! We hope you’ll listen to this week’s episode to hear our discussion on this post. But, seriously, happy couples are continually looking for ways to invest in each other. Noone tends to drift toward health. We have to be intentional and work hard to keep something on target. Whether it’s through listening to a sermon, a podcast, or attending a couple’s small group, or reading a book about marriage, or going to a counseling session, happy couples know they have to keep working at growing if they are going to stay happy.
We like to say that marriage is an adventure. It’s the highs, the lows, and everything in between. After twenty-four years, we know it’s impossible to live happily every single day of our marriage. But, we’ve seen that regularly doing these twelve things has given us a pretty good chance of enjoying our adventure!
Daniel & Bonnie