This week, I have been asked to speak on MY top 10 secrets of a happy marriage again at a young moms’ group. I am so glad Duane and I are having a good week.
After 47 years of marriage, yes, he is my best friend and we are very happy…this week. Just sayin…love doesn’t mean every week runs smoothly or happily! We have fun working on it!
So many approach marriage as though this huge event in their lives will assure their forever happiness. I know that is exactly how I felt. I had met the man of my dreams and I just knew – beyond any shadow of doubt – when we got married, we would live happily ever after! That created a whole lot of PRESSURE for my unsuspecting groom!
Marriage is a day by day by day intentionally lived life.
Although certainly not perfect, my top ten list may give you some ideas and encouragement on your path:
#10- LAUGH! Laugh with each other – preferably, not AT each other. Laugh often. We have funny TV shows we try and watch once a week together- just so we laugh together. Laughter is extremely good for the soul. The greatest DVD resource- Mark Gungor “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage”.
#9- Clean the house. Keep up the laundry. Change the sheets. Decide how you can share the duties around the house. If one works longer hours, the other picks up the slack. If the house is a mess, it is extremely hard to throw caution to the wind and make wild, passionate love; especially if you can’t find the bed. Statistics prove this is more important to women than men; but, it definitely affects the temperature of the relationship at home.
#8-Make a list of your bad habits (or, the ones your spouse doesn’t like) and work a little on improving them every day…for the rest of your life. (47 years later, ours are almost extinct.)
#7- EYE-CONTACT (Communication) daily: If we are both in town, we make sure we sit eye to eye at some point each day to touch base. Some days, we have time for long conversations. Other days, we might share a sentence or two as to how we are doing as we go our separate paths. This ensures you see each other – in spite of how crazy life gets. Eye-contact doesn’t work if one still doesn’t feel loved. We need to look into each others eyes and hear our hearts. This one habit breeds intimacy. A great resource, 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.
#6- Kids, family, in-laws: I know this seems a bit far down on the list. The greatest thing you can do for your kids is to love each other. Kids should not come first in a marriage. My parents had a special relationship that came first. And yes, once all of us were grown and gone, they still had a marriage! Duane and I have always kept our love and relationship first. Yes, the kids are now grown and gone; and, we still have a happy marriage!
#5- Date Night: This makes #6 possible. Duane still dates me. I also arrange some of our date nights. Over the past 2,414 weeks, we have maybe missed 10 weeks of going on a date. They certainly don’t have to be fancy, or expensive, they just need to be dates. Someone plans something. One does the asking. When you are having a difficult week in your relationship- and, DON’T want to date – it is especially critical you do! Double dates don’t count unless you spend the end of the evening alone. It is surprisingly romantic and shockingly personal…and, it will fix your bad weeks.
#4- Shower daily – okay, spend time on yourself – your hair, skin, nails, relaxation and clothes. Look nice. Feel pretty. Make time in your day for yourself. You cannot give of yourself when you don’t like yourself, or feel good about yourself. Look in a mirror. Lose a few pounds if necessary. This is a HUGELY important component of a happy marriage.
#3- Intimacy: Enough said. (Naturally, Duane thinks this should be #2; but, this is MY list.)
#2- Know your spouse’s temperament and understand his/her inborn needs and feelings. I teach on the 4 human temperaments. Understanding this subject can make or break a marriage. Once you discover how you are each created – the pre-dispositions that make each of you who you are – it makes relationships so much easier! You can predict emotions and reactions to every situation! However, this must be a work in progress – constantly referring to your mental notes, reminding yourself you two are not made the same! (Sign up for my FREE blog and get my temperament test and eBook free!) www.kathleenchapman.com
#1- I am a Christ follower. I believe, without God, a truly happy marriage cannot exist. As humans, we are so flawed, so imperfect, so unpredictable. On top of this, LIFE is so uncertain and uncharted! How can a person possibly be responsible to meet someone’s needs, hopes and dreams without God’s supernatural power within?
Over our 47 years, there have been extremely blissful times and tremendously troubled times. I think six months after our wedding I asked him to leave! Fortunately he didn’t listen to me. The truth is our love has survived because of God. It has thrived because of God. We are HAPPY because of God.
I know of dozens of marriages that have lasted as long as ours; but, endurance is not to be confused with happiness. My desire has always been for happiness and love in this relationship.
By now, you have figured out that my number one secret of a happy marriage is falling in love with our creator and keeping Him in charge of my life and love for Duane. Notice I didn’t say #1 is “putting God first.” That sounds overused to me- it can almost be translated as always going to church or doing something religious.
One must actually fall in love with Jesus and give Him control over all of life – including marriage. HE created marriage! He actually has ALL the answers for all the problems. (And, they are written in the Bible!) I promise you will be shocked at how this works. Begin every morning talking to God. Give Him your problems, desires and requests regarding your marriage (and everything else). The first 30 days are the hardest. Then, it becomes a habit and miraculous transformation begins!
There were a number of years when I didn’t really “get” this concept. I was a Christian; but, I tried to fix and help and give wisdom, suggestions and advice on my own. Duane would dig in his heels and my bristles would stand up on my neck. We wondered why marriage was so hard. We loved each other. We just tried to make our marriage work by ourselves.
Not so anymore.
My advice to everyone reading this: tackle #1- and, do it today. Make it your priority. I guarantee you at least 47 more years of being happily married!!