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When I was younger, it was the aspiration for a dream life. To find your soulmate and partner, get happily married with a big white wedding and lots of bridesmaids, then have a family and settle into your own home.
Life is different now, and so some of those things may not be the priority anymore, but it’s made me wonder – is there a secret formula for having a happy marriage?
I’ve been married for 26 years this year. We got married young, after dating for 4 years. Yes, we had the pretty dresses and fun party, then moved in together into our new home. After a while, our children arrived. Tick off the checklist.
So many things have changed in our lives since that day. Careers have changed, we’ve moved house, and lived with the craziness that is 2 working parents. And our relationship has changed too.
From the young care free moments of not having a family and only thinking about ourselves and having a fun life, to being responsible for 2 other people.
We’ve set goals together, made big decisions about our lives, changed career paths, had some harder circumstances to manage, and really, just grown up and changed in ourselves.
But there are some things that haven’t changed.
We have fun together
We know each other inside out, and are each other’s support team
We’re pretty aligned on most things
We’re ok with each other having interests that the other one doesn’t have
We’re ok with going away on our own
We have mutual friends, and our own friends
We both have great (and different) relationships with our kids
We both have relationships with our own parents, and a (polite) respect for our in-laws
There are things that we do that annoys the other, and we yell about them
He never remembers Mother’s Day or other special occasions – nothing has changed
He always remembers to pick up a chocolate for me if he is buying petrol
He buys me amazing presents for Christmas (sometimes)
We go on holidays together – everything from camping to cruising or going overseas
Is it perfect all the time – aka Stepford Lives? No way! I think it’s because we need the storm to enjoy the calm sometimes. Life on one wave-length could get boring. But we’re happy.
I asked my friends what they thought made a happy marriage. Some of the answers were beautiful, some funny and all touching. Things like -
Daily acts of devotion and gratitude. Sometimes it’s the little things.
We never take each other for granted. 9 years
Give and take, compromise, tolerance and loyalty for each other. 37 years
Shared interests – champagne and a love of puppies to name a couple.
Don’t let things stew, talk to each other, be there when they need you and laugh. 30 years
Staying best friends. 49 years
So if I could sum it up, I would say there isn’t one single secret– its lots of little things that show you care for and respect your partner.
Keep talking, growing individually and together, and enjoy and learn along the way.
That’s my hot tips for a happy marriage.