Struggling to feel the love? You’re not alone: Nearly one in five Americans say they’re unhappy with their current relationship, according to a recent eharmony poll. That doesn’t mean it’s time to throw in the towel, though. A successful marriage takes work and incorporating new habits for a happy marriage can turn things around—and fast.
Husband and wife pair of 15+ years, Johnny and Lara Fernandez, just so happen to both be relationship coaches, too. So we asked the Benicia, California-based couple to share their sage tips for how to have a happy marriage (or an even happier one).
10 Best Happy Marriage Tips
- Have a "growth mind-set" for a successful marriage. Be a lifelong learner. If both of you are willing to learn from your mistakes and the challenges in your relationship, you will thrive as individuals and as a couple. Related: 4 Common Marriage Problems—and Solutions for a Happy Marriage
- Take good care of yourself. You can't give from an empty cup. Keep up your self-care no matter what. This is especially important for women, who often give until depleted and then nobody's happy.
- Let go of perfectionism—your partner isn't perfect, and neither are you. In all relationships, both partners will make mistakes. Don't let perfectionism destroy what is overall a good, solid, loving relationship. One of the easiest solutions for how to have a happy marriage? Be kind to yourself and be kind to your sweetheart.
- Say "appreciations" often before going to sleep. Right before drifting off to sleep, share a few things that you appreciate about each other. (Three is a good number, but feel free to share more.) It could be something you did that day or a quality (like "I love how honest you are with me") you value. Focus on what you love and appreciate about each other and you will find more to love and appreciate about each other and your successful marriage. Related: Balancing Personal Needs and Your Plus One
- Remember: Men want respect, and women want to be cherished. Women: Be respectful and kind to your man and he will cherish you. Men: Cherish and be kind to your woman and she will respect you. Happy marriage win-win!
- Practice forgiveness—not just forgiving your spouse, but forgiving yourself. We interviewed couples that had been happily married for more than 50 years. One of their secrets? Being willing to forgive. Practice forgiveness for your partner's mistakes and for your own. (See number 3, above.)
- Never threaten divorce. That's the kiss of death. Don't throw around the threat of divorce, even in the heat of an argument. Your marriage is too important and too sacred to threaten to end it over an argument. (Are you the spouse with the short fuse? Here’s advice from a woman who can relate.)
- Practice "the simmer" (and don't forget to "deliver"). You want to keep your relationship on simmer and then gradually and consistently bring it to a boil. What does that mean? It means flirt with your partner for an even more successful marriage. Send each other sexy texts. Pat him on the butt when you pass him in the kitchen. Give her a long lingering kiss over the laundry. And then remember to let that simmer turn into a full-blown boil regularly. Enjoy yourself. Regular sex is important in your relationship for so many reasons.
- Allow yourself to be vulnerable with each other. Brené Brown said, "What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful." So remember this habit for a healthier marriage: Opening your heart and sharing your tender places with your spouse creates real intimacy and connection. Always be willing to share your true, deep, scary feelings. This helps create a bond that will last. And ladies, please know that his vulnerability may look different than yours. That's okay. Related: 4 Ways to Love the One You’re With
- The ultimate happy marriage tip? Marry the right person. After over 10 years of relationship coaching, we've seen over and over again that the personal growth investments of time, energy and resources BEFORE you meet your future spouse have a return that is exponential. You have a higher chance of attracting a quality person who will stick by you when you have learned how your beliefs and behaviors create your circumstances. Your past does not have to equal your future!