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The Secret To A Long Happy Marriage

Updated on November 15, 2013

I’ve been married to the same man for a lot of years, never divorced and know how to keep the home fires burning. Have you noticed how many relationship columns are written by people who aren’t even married?

I could write an entire book on this subject but I’ll try to be brief and give you the condensed version.

Don’t try to change them.

Before getting married some have a misconception that they can mold the other person into the perfect spouse they have always wanted. It doesn’t work that way. Sure we all change as we get older and our ideas and goals will be different over time but going into a marriage thinking you can overhaul a defective person never works. If she is a messy housekeeper now, more than likely she’ll still be a slob ten years from now. That guy you are in love with who hates your mother probably won’t change his opinion after he puts a ring on your finger.

Think before you speak.

It’s not just what you say but how you say it. Many disagreements could be avoided if we listen to how we say things. When we are irritated, tired or having difficulties it’s easy to take it out on our spouse. We should be there for each other and listen to complaints about supervisors and jobs but try to use a kind voice and don’t redirect anger.


Pick your battles.

Most things young married couples choose to debate about aren’t even important when you really think about it. Years from now you’ll look back and wonder why you made such a big deal out of some of them.

Compromise is the key. Meet halfway and don’t think you have to be right all the time. You might be right but is putting a strain on your relationship worth it?

Some people say to never go to bed angry. I disagree. Staying up arguing all night does no one any good and sometimes a good nights sleep puts a new perspective on the situation. Tomorrow you may smoke the peace pipe, kiss and make up.

We all have faults and we have to decide what is a big deal and what isn’t. My husband leaves the toilet seat up, cupboard doors open and squeezes the toothpaste from the middle. We now have our own tubes (we like different brands anyway); I close the doors and feel in the dark for the seat during the night. Some things just aren’t that big of a deal.

If need be, both of you make a list of the things that drives each of you crazy. Believe me he has a list too. When you are calm and sitting down go over them and see what changes can be made. Take it one step at a time.

There are no sides.

When you have disagreements don’t think of it as sides of a sporting field and you are trying to win. There are no sides. You are two halves of a complete whole. What happens to one affects the other. If you win you may actually be losing. You are a part of each other working for a common goal. If you split and make it a wrestling match you are missing the point.

Everything, these days, seems to be about “me.” A marriage isn’t about me; it's about us.

Keep love alive.

No matter how busy life gets don’t forget to take time for each other. The kids, your job and your friends can wait. If you put off your significant other too often it can put a wedge between you that only gets bigger and bigger.

Sex is very important. Unless one of you has a medical condition that keeps you from making love you should keep it active. There are few conditions that warrant complete celibacy but consult your physician if you have doubts. There are many, many ways to keep things going. If you don’t know your options read a book, there are hundreds of volumes on the subject.

If your spouse doesn’t get the physical and emotional attention they need they may look elsewhere.

Clarify rules concerning children.

No two people have the same ideas about raising kids or even whether to have them. Make sure you are on the same page concerning having children before you get married. If you both want them make sure you agree on how they will be raised. Put it on paper if you have to, covering everything including religion, education, extra curricular activities, dating age, etc. The list can get very large.

As you get older your thoughts on this will change but don’t count on your wife or husband changing their mind about having kids later on. It may not happen and you may be greatly disappointed.

People change.

It’s inevitable. If we are lucky we change together in the same direction riding into the sunset with gray hair and a few laugh lines but the truth is many do not.

That Christian man you married may later on decide to be Buddhist. You may change as well. If you aren’t too unmoving in your ideas and are flexible you’ll get along much better if not there will be rough waters ahead.

Men start out sex machines with raging hormones and libidos but later on in life they start to taper off and some flat out turn off completely. Oddly enough women start out at a slow pace and end up in fourth gear by middle age juuust about the time the Mister is slowing down. Mother Nature has a sick sense of humor but what can we do?

Taking a lover is not a good idea. No matter how sneaky you think you are these things have a way of coming out eventually. Get counseling if need be but the thing that works best is “communication,” whatever is going on between the two of you the key is to talk it out and compromise. Few problems are beyond solving when you put your heads together and discuss the situation.

Don’t wait until it is too late to work out your problems. The longer you let it go the worse it gets. This is one thing you can’t sweep under the rug.

For better or worse, for richer or poorer, til death do us part.

I don’t think most young people really think about these vows when they are saying them. The bride is wondering what people think about her dress and the groom, well, I think we all know what’s on his mind.

Life is a journey with ups and downs. There will be great times and there will be very bad times. No one can promise you a happily ever after; that only happens in fairy tales.

You’ll have money problems, you’ll have health issues and you’ll have family who fight over which home you spend Christmas or whatever holidays you celebrate.

The key is to not lose your heads and work each situation out as it comes. There is no marriage manual that gives you an answer for each and every problem that comes up; you have to figure that out for yourselves.

Your marriage is important and you must work on it everyday. Don’t neglect it. Think of it as your career. Keep your skills, talents and appearance up at all times or you may be replaced. Don’t think just because you are married that it doesn’t matter what you look like. Some things can’t be helped but keep up with the ones that can like hygiene, weight, health and attitude.


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    • Pamela N Red profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela N Red 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Made, in some states that is considered common law marriage. Here in Oklahoma it's a legal union.

    • Made profile image

      Madeleine Salin 

      6 years ago from Finland

      Maybe I'm the wrong woman to make a comment on this hub. I'm not married yet, but I have lived like a married woman with the same man for almost 12 years. We have two children together and we are both happy. I think this is a great hub. Thank you for sharing all the tips!

    • Pamela N Red profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela N Red 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Turtlewoman, it's an ongoing job just like a career and we have to work at it everyday. Thanks for reading.

    • Turtlewoman profile image

      Kim Lam 

      6 years ago from California

      Amen! Great advice from someone who is in a long and successful marriage! I'm not married yet, but will be in a couple of months. The first three tips are especially important reminders for me since I am guilty of those faults during the relationship. Thanks, Pam...

    • Pamela N Red profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela N Red 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks, Dina. I am glad you enjoy them. I've been married a long time and have had a happy marriage so far.

    • Dina Blaszczak profile image

      Dina Blaszczak 

      7 years ago from Poland

      The more hubs of yours I read, the more I'm becoming convinced that you are a very clever lady, Pamela, who has lots of life experience and I can learn a lot from you :) I'm glad we met here on HubPages!

      P.S. I'm getting married at the end of April, so this hub was very interesting for me to read :D Voted up, interesting and useful.

    • Pamela N Red profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela N Red 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks, Sheila, it's not easy to stay married a long time to the same person but it is possible.

    • sheilanewton profile image


      7 years ago from North Shields, UK

      Great advice. Loved the hub - voted up and across.

    • Pamela N Red profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela N Red 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Strkngfang, it's not too late but I doubt your wife or step-daughter would go for that idea. There are a lot of good people needing babies that can afford to raise them and give them a good home.

    • strkngfang profile image


      7 years ago

      Me too. Her baby is now 14 months old so too late for that.

      I'm adopted, my birthmother did the right thing :)

    • Pamela N Red profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela N Red 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Strkngfang, I see too many young women having babies out of wedlock and then her parents end up raising and supporting the child. I wouldn't do it and would make my daughter give the baby up for adoption but that's just me.

    • strkngfang profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks. We went to counseling last year & I'm going now. The only solution is our daughter being gone. She only works part time & has no ambition, she knows she has it made so she'll never leave on her own. We are currently separated while we wait till she wins the lottery. Funny but tragic.

    • Pamela N Red profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela N Red 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Strkngfang, that is a tough one. I'd suggest counseling for you and your wife so you can try to work out a solution to this problem. Your stepdaughter should be going to school or working on her career so she can find her own place. Your daughter shouldn't be ruling your home and should feel lucky to be allowed to stay with y'all.

    • strkngfang profile image


      7 years ago

      Very nice, Pamela. Now if I could just figure out the "stepdaughter who is now 21, unmarried with baby and allowed to rule the house" problem, things would get better for us. I guess I should have known 17 years a go that my wife had always been an "enabler" and that things would only get worse as her daughter aged?

    • Pamela N Red profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela N Red 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      True, Blissfulwriter, we have a tendency to expect people to be the way we want them to be and that never works out.

    • BlissfulWriter profile image


      7 years ago

      Don't try to change people is so true. That goes for friends and family and coworker and whoever else as well as spouses. We have to let people be themselves.

    • sunkentreasure profile image


      7 years ago from RUIMSIG, SOUTH AFRICA


      Make your love one feel special everyday.

      Do not allow your lives to become routine -

      prepare lots of different activities to enjoy.

      Never take your loved one for granted.

      Keep your love forever precious,

      sacred and beautiful.

      What you put into your love

      is what you will get out of your love.

      Enrich your lives with prayer.

      Always be your partners best friend.

      © Bernard Levine

    • Pamela N Red profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela N Red 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks for reading, Sumanbroy.

    • sumanbroy profile image


      7 years ago from Chicago

      Thanks for the indepth review. I'm voting you up and following to see more.

    • Pamela N Red profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela N Red 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Jaymye, it's basic common sense that works if both people use it. Seventeen years is great. Keep doing what you are doing and you'll stay together.

    • Jaymye Allen profile image

      Jaymye Allen 

      7 years ago from Sherman, Texas

      Pamela N Red, again, nicely done! My husband and I have been married 17 years, and reading this article helps me to see why we have been! I guess one could say that we have been subconsciously taking your advice! Thanks so much; voted up and awesome.

    • Pamela N Red profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela N Red 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Dashing, you are so right. We can't stop working on our relationship, it's an ongoing process that needs our constant attention.

    • dashingscorpio profile image


      7 years ago

      Never stop "pursing" or "impressing" your spouse.

      Just because you're married doesn't mean you stop flirting, using sexual innuendo, and dating each other. (It's easier to maintain a fire than it is to "reignite" a spark.)

      "Monogamy becomes boring when couples become lazy."

    • Pamela N Red profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela N Red 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Phil, twelve years is something to celebrate these days. Congratulations and thank you for reading.

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 

      7 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Excellent advice. Really communication is the key, no question about that. This October my wife and I will have been married twelve years. Voted-up and useful.

    • Pamela N Red profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela N Red 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks for reading, urbancihijioke. I hope my words will help someone.

    • ubanichijioke profile image

      Alexander Thandi Ubani 

      7 years ago from Lagos

      These steps are classic, excellent & above all practical. Your well informed hub is a good guide for anybody wishing for a peaceful, loving and adorable home. I thank you from the deepest of my heart. Bravo ma!

    • Pamela N Red profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela N Red 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks, Rose. It has worked for me all these years.

    • Rose West profile image

      Rose West 

      7 years ago from Michigan

      I'm not married as of yet, but this seems like very good advice, especially since it comes from someone with experience!

    • Pamela N Red profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela N Red 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Breakfastpop, I don't think too many take marriage seriously these days.

      Randomcreative, I have to remind myself of these points every so often.

      Marsha, I love that commercial. It is so funny. I hadn't heard that but it makes sense.

    • marshacanada profile image


      7 years ago from Vancouver BC

      Great Hub Pamela N Red. Excellent advice well presented and I LOVED the Indian Wedding arrangement add. A teacher once told me Western love matches start out hot and gradually cool down. And Eastern arranged marriages start out cool and gradually heat up.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      7 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Very well done! Lots of great points here for people in age stage of their relationship.

    • breakfastpop profile image


      7 years ago

      Great advice, now if only more people could follow it our divorce rate would drop.

    • Pamela N Red profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela N Red 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks, marellen. I just might do that.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Pam, your advice and tips are right-on. You are a lucky one to have found your soul-mate. Not all of us are so lucky...Go ahead and write your book, I think it would be a seller...

    • Pamela N Red profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela N Red 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Naomi, it's not always easy but we have to keep working at it and remember we are a team.

      Will, you are so right on that one. Some become addicted to that euphoria and continue to look for it in other people the rest of their life until one day they realize they are old and alone with no one and what they had in the beginning was a good thing. I've seen this a lot.

      Laidbacklady, we all have to remind ourselves of these things even those of us in long term marriages.

      Vocalcoach, thanks for reading.

      Writeronline, I'll check out your article. A young man who is engaged asked me what the secret to a long marriage was and prompted me to write this.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hi Pamela, couldn't agree more. My wife and I have been married for 41 years - so far :) True and abiding love is at the heart of our happiness together, but the real keys are similar to much of what you've written here.

      I wrote a hub a while ago, about what (to me), is the main factor,

      It goes well with all you have to say, so 'natch', I'm voting this one up and useful et al....

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      7 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Well done, Pamela! Could have used this good advice more than once. Very good hub for married or single folks as most of these suggestions are a good way to be, period.

      Rating Up, awesome and interesting. Thanks.

    • laidbacklady profile image


      7 years ago from Plumsted Township, NJ

      Great job, Pamela! Nice hub! There is some sound advice here, for both young and not-so-young couples. God knows I could stand to follow some of your tips and advice. Now, if only my husband would read this....

      Voted up, useful, awesome, beautiful and interesting

    • WillStarr profile image


      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Remember too that the euphoria of falling in love eventually fades, and becomes the day to day love that all long time couples know. If you expect that euphoria to continue, you'll be disappointed, and might even start to believe that the love has gone, when it has actually just begun.

      When the honeymoon is over, the real, quiet, longtime, love begins. Don't miss out on it because that's the love we see when we see elderly couples walking together hand in hand.

      If you expect honeymoon euphoria long after the honeymoon is over, you'll probably be disappointed, and I think that’s why there are so many multiple divorces.

      Excellent Hub Pamela!

    • Naomi's Banner profile image

      Naomi's Banner 

      7 years ago from United States

      Pamela, this is excellant advice. I commend you for staying married through the good and the tough times. Few do or can. I love this Hub! I wish I would have had this video for my Hub, Stand By Your Man.


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