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The secret to a happy marriage or relationship?

Updated on July 8, 2013

A common question that you usually hear asked of the older generation is, What are the secrets to a happy marriage? (Although I guess in this modern day and age where not all couples choose to get married, the question could equally be, What are the secrets to a happy relationship?) Sometimes you might hear the question phrased in the singular, i.e. What is the secret to a happy marriage? I would have to say that in my opinion there is not one secret, but many secrets to a happy marriage or relationship, and the reason I have written this article is to share what I believe those secrets consist of.

Now I am not truly quite ready to qualify for being a member of the 'older generation' yet, (I am only in my early forties), but I do have a fair bit of relationship experience behind me, and the benefit of seeing what has clearly made some relationships successful, whilst others lacking these qualities have failed. I have also spent plenty of time with senior citizens who often shared with me plenty of their tips for a happy and successful marriage, whilst fondly reminiscing about their own happy marriages.

With no further delay I shall simply say, I hope this article provides some helpful tips that will ensure your own marriages or relationships are long and happy, with few regrets. Also remember that not all successful relationships rely on the 'butterflies in the stomach' kind of love, and I cover this in more detail on my Hub called Can a relationship work without you being in love?

The Secrets to a Happy Marriage or Relationship

Be romantic. Too many youngsters starting out in the whole exciting world of dating focus their efforts on the sexual side of the relationships. They pay little attention to the basic essentials, such as including plenty of romance, (even when they are very keen on their girlfriend or boyfriend). Even the middle aged and older generations can be guilty of forgetting to keep the romance alive. My Hub on How to add some romance into your relationship offers some great suggestions for those who are struggling to come up with romantic ideas of their own.

Avoid irrational jealousy. It is a well known fact that jealousy destroys relationships and marriages. If you are of a jealous or insecure disposition, then get some kind of professional help to deal with this. The moment you start to question who your partner talks to or where they have been, keep them away from their friends or accuse them of flirting etc, then you can start to kiss goodbye to any chance of a future with them. The only unknown is how long it will take for the other person to decide 'enough is enough' and walk away from the possessive partner. I have experience of being on the receiving end of this kind of jealousy in two past relationships, and needless to say I am no longer with either of those men. You can read about my experience in one of those relationships on my Hub called Living with a Control Freak. If you are of course virtually certain your partner really is cheating on you, and it is not just in your imagination, then you will want to be sure before you break up with them, in which case my Hub on How to catch a cheating lover should be helpful.


Be faithful. Infidelity is another very bad ingredient in any relationship or marriage. You are usually found out one way or another, and even if your partner, Husband or Wife forgives you and takes you back, the relationship is forever damaged as a result, and the trust destroyed. After a few years of marriage many partners may find they again look at other members of the opposite sex with a view to if they find them sexually attractive or not, (but this doesn't mean they should act on it if they do). The problem is that if an attractive person flirts with us we are all too frequently flattered by the attention, and if the marriage isn't as exciting as it was in the early years, some people do allow themselves to be lead astray. Just remember, whilst a little flirting is usually harmless fun, taking it to the next level is potentially very harmful and could well destroy your marriage or relationship permanently.

Never take your partner for granted. After the novelty of a new relationship has worn off it is very easy to slip into bad habits, one of which is taking your partner for granted. Make sure you remember to thank them for the little things they do for you, be it cooking a meal or giving you a lift to work. You can also remember to pay them attention and talk to them when you are out in public places together, hold car doors open for them, help them on with their coats upon leaving restaurants, ask them about how their day has been etc. Again my hub on How to add some romance into your relationship is helpful on this point.

Don't drop your personal standards. If you used to take care of your appearance when you first met your partner, Husband or Wife, then maintain this level of effort. I am not suggesting (ladies) that you need to apply a full face of cosmetics before your Husband is ever allowed to set eyes on you, but it doesn't hurt to make a little effort by perhaps putting on a touch of eye make-up and lipstick during the day (assuming you did this when he fell for you in the first place). Likewise (ladies and gentlemen), if you had a nice figure and looked after your body, maintained a healthy weight, kept your hair tidy, washed daily and shaved in appropriate places etc when you were together in the early months or years, then don't stop bothering simply because you have become used to being a couple. Someone I know once pointed out that we often hear women saying that their Husbands tell them they 'don't need to wear make-up because they are attractive enough without it', only to hear later on that the same women ended up divorced because their Husbands ran off with women who did wear make-up. The following two Hubs I wrote should avoid many of the common drops in personal standards:

The Top 10 Passion Killers for Men

The Top 10 Passion Killers for Women

Have a hobby you can enjoy together. Whether you take up ballroom dancing, join a quiz league, get a vegetable allotment or start horse riding, find a hobby you both like that allows you to have fun together. The one thing you don't want your marriage to become is dull. It is important you can still spend quality time together without life becoming all about the children or the day to day routines of working, eating and sleeping.

Have your own hobbies and friends that you can enjoy apart. This is also important, as each of you need to have a level of independence too. If everything you do is done together you will never get the space you need to appreciate each other properly. It is true that 'absence makes the heart grow fonder', and sometimes we need time apart so we can actually miss each others company.

Go on a date together once a week. This might sound silly once you are safely married and/or living together but it really does work. A date is quality time together, away from the normal routine and the home. You could go out for dinner together, for a walk along the beach, to the movies or just for a picnic in the local park. The important thing is that you get a chance to chat together without interruptions, distractions or household chores getting in the way. It is an opportunity to make an extra effort with your appearance and to utilise some of those romantic gestures you found out about in my romantic ideas Hub.


Respect each other. It isn't hard to respect one another, and I would suggest some of the following ways to show this respect.

  • Don't 'put your partner down' or ridicule them, whether you are at home or out together in public.
  • Be polite to them and don't call them insulting names, (even if you are arguing at the time).
  • Don't say horrible things about their family members to them in order to hurt them or provoke a reaction.
  • Keep the details of any arguments you have had as a private matter, and do not go around telling all your friends about your private lives unless your marriage or relationship is already well and truly on the rocks and you are planning on splitting up so need support and advice.
  • Don't criticise them for having different beliefs from yours, whether it is a difference of opinion on religion, politics, the existence of aliens or ghosts etc. You are never going to have exactly the same opinions on everything, but that is not to say theirs are definitely wrong and yours are definitely right. The best bet is to respect each others beliefs and agree to disagree.

The list could go on , but I am sure you have the gist of what I am referring to when I talk about respecting each other.


Honour your marriage vows. This sounds obvious, but so many couples who opted to get married simply recited the marriage vows because it was all part of the marriage ceremony. How many actually thought of what they were saying and took it seriously? The bottom line is that if you got married in a Church you probably vowed to love, honour and cherish, stay together in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer, for better for worse etc, (this site lists many different religion's wedding vows which you may also have made). Even if you wrote your own vows or got married outside of a church environment, you will have made promises to each other that you should honour unless the other partner makes it impossible through their bad behaviour, e.g. domestic abuse towards you or repeated infidelity.

Remember important occasions. By occasions I mean Wedding Anniversaries and Birthdays. It isn't enough to just remember them though, make them special and show your lover that you value your marriage or relationship.

Listen to each other. One common complaint from couples is that their partner doesn't listen to them. Listening is quite a skill, especially if you are going to restrain yourself from interrupting the other person. Whether you are having a normal conversation, or a full scale argument, make the effort to listen carefully to your Husband, Wife or partner and respond in a way that demonstrates you have been paying attention.

Don't try to change each other. Remember when you first fell in love with your partner? You didn't want to change them then and were more than happy with the person they were. If you have now decided that you want to change them you are likely to be in for a big wake up call, 'people rarely change their basic personality'. You may have been fortunate enough to see them on their best behaviour, but in time the 'real' personality will reappear, and quite possibly this is why it is always best to get to know your partner for a year or two before committing to marriage or living together. You also need to understand that if your partner liked going out with their mates when you met, or vanished on fishing trips most weekends, you cannot expect them to stop doing that because they are now with you. At best you might be able to agree on a workable compromise, (such as the frequency this happens). It is also unfair to expect them to change the way they dress, style their hair, the type of job they choose to do, the friends they hang out with etc.


Keep talking. Talking to each other is so important, whether it is to share your feelings, ask your partner how they are, offer support, congratulations or express love for them. A marriage with problems is as good as over once you stop talking, (and if it hasn't got problems yet, it soon will have). Keep talking and you are in with a chance. Never go to sleep on an argument, always talk it through to a resolution if at all possible.

Keep kissing. One of the first things to go in a failing relationship is kissing. Couples in a failing marriage or relationship will carry on having sex a lot longer than they will kissing, (strange as that may seem).

Don't allow the children to play you off against each other. Children are master manipulators, but don't allow them to get their own way by playing you off against each other. If Mum has said 'No', Dad must say 'No' too, whether this is regarding going to bed or wanting to have a certain toy or treat. If the children know that one parent has said 'no', but the other parent will most likely say 'yes', they will use this to full advantage. Always make sure both you and your spouse are 'singing from the same hymn sheet' when it comes to bringing up your children, otherwise you will end up having major rows over this.

Work together as a team. Always remember that you are a team, and believe that together you can achieve anything you need to. If you work together instead of independently you can achieve so much more, and this in turn will strengthen your marriage or relationship.

Unconditional love. We all tend to give and receive unconditional love where our immediate blood relations are concerned, but the same largely applies to our chosen partners, Husbands or Wives. All of us are more than capable of being frustrating or unreasonable on occasions, but we should not abuse the fact we are the recipients of unconditional love from our spouses. Sometimes we say or act in incredibly and unnecessarily cruel ways towards those who we know will love us regardless. Stop and think! Remember to treat your partner as you would like them to treat you. If you know you are going to hurt them with what you say or do next, don't do it. It isn't fair to abuse the privilege of being unconditionally loved by your partner.

If both of you follow these guidelines I believe you are in possession of most of the secrets to a happy marriage or relationship and can look forward to a bright future together with your Husband, Wife or partner.

Good Luck


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