What does it take to have a happy and fulfilling marriage? That is the question everyone who wants one should ask before getting married.
This article will present some keys to establishing a happy and fulfilling marriage. I’ve been married for over 35 years as of 2023. I decided to study marriage because I didn’t know how to have a good one at the beginning of my marriage. I believe in education, and marriage is no different. You probably already know that education is necessary to do almost anything. To be a doctor, you must get the proper instructions. You must study science if you aspire to be a scientist. Likewise, it seems reasonable that education is necessary for a happy and fulfilling marriage.
Pick the Right One
It is difficult, if not impossible, to build a happy and fulfilling marriage if you marry the wrong person. The foundation must be sound before the house on top of it can stand firmly. Therefore, spending time and doing due diligence is selecting the right person to marry.
Get to know the person and their family. Understand their mindset, goals in life, family bonds, etc. Ensuring you marry the right person is imperative for a happy and fulfilling marriage. You determine what is right, so you must analyze your goals and expectations for marriage.
I think that diligence in picking the right person for marriage is often overlooked. People tend to marry because of love. They believe that falling in love with someone is sufficient for marriage. It is not. See my eBook, “What Happens to Love in Marriage,” for more information.
Commitment in marriage is the force that keeps it going in good times and bad. The commitment will enable you to resolve issues and continue to work at improving the marriage, especially when problems arise.
A significant aspect of commitment is that feelings do not drive it. You are committed to the relationship even when you sometimes don’t feel like it. You do what is necessary to obtain the desired result: a happy marriage. Sometimes, you do things even when you don’t feel like it.
Prioritize the Relationship
Your marriage must have a high priority. Day-to-day responsibilities, the children, and more can take precedence over the marriage until little time is spent nurturing it. Therefore, ensure that you prioritize your marriage to grow into the happy and fulfilling one you desire.
Learn Your Spouse’s Love Language
In his book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, Gary Chapman describes a concept called the love language. He identified five love languages.
- Words of affirmation
- Physical touch
- Acts of service
- Gift giving
- Quality time
The love languages identify ways that we give and receive love. You may interpret physical touch as how your husband expresses his love for you. Your wife may perceive love through quality time. Whatever the case, know how your spouse receives and gives love by identifying their love language.
Also, use the knowledge of your spouse’s love language to speak it. That will help you communicate your love for them effectively.
I highly recommend the book, “His Needs Her Needs: How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage” by Dr. Willard Harley. It is available on amazon.com.
Expect Your Spouse to Change
No one remains the same, and your spouse is no exception. Realize that as the years pass, your spouse will adapt to things, learn new things, and, therefore, change. I’m not referring to drastic changes such as becoming a Satan worshipper when you met in church and are both Christians. I’m referring to evolutionary changes such as becoming more outgoing, interested in new things, etc.
Don’t expect your spouse to be the same person when you first met. They will change.
No relationship can survive without effective communication. You must talk to each other. I believe you should speak to each other before you get married. Discuss your expectations in marriage. Talk about your visions and goals in life, where you’d like to live, how many children you want, etc.
Talk about intimate and sensitive topics within the relationship. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Be honest with your spouse about what you like and don’t like. There is no need to tolerate things merely because you don’t want to hurt their feelings.
Be respectful when you talk to each other, of course. Your relationship should be a safe place to be vulnerable.
Intimacy is an integral part of marriage. The two of you become roommates or workers in Household, Inc. if there is little to no intimacy. Intimacy is established in different areas, like emotional intimacy and functional intimacy.
Emotional intimacy is closeness and emotional connection between two people. It involves feelings for your spouse and can go deep into the heart. For example, you may have feelings of concern for a coworker. However, your feelings are much stronger and deeper for those closest to you, e.g., your spouse.
Intimacy can be nurtured in the following ways.
- Intimate conversations
- Sex, especially making love
- Spending quality time with each other, especially if that’s your love language.
Have More Sex
Sex is critical to a marriage in most cases. It is how the couple emotionally bonds with each other, especially for men. Sex also has many health benefits, which I describe in this article.
Sex is often taken for granted because it is perceived as a mere physical act. However, it is much more than intercourse. For some, it is how love is perceived and given. It is how men emotionally connect with their wives. Sex is believed to be how women affirm their love for their husbands.
Some say men emotionally connect with their wives, and wives affirm their emotional connection through sex. The point is that sex is a vital part of the relationship, and you should not neglect it.
Appreciate What You Have
Appreciate what you have instead of complaining about what you don’t have. For example, don’t complain that your wife isn’t a good cook. Instead, praise her for her excellent job keeping things around the house organized and clean.
It is easy to complain about unmet expectations in your spouse, especially when there are problems. However, focus on the positive and appreciate what you have. Work on the issues without taking the good things for granted.
I believe togetherness is essential for a happy and fulfilling marriage and to function effectively. It means the two are with each other in mind, body, and spirit. They are a union operating together to accomplish and overcome great things.
See my article on Togetherness for more information.
Togetherness is of greater importance than romantic love because it can help keep that love strong. My wife asked me what I wanted in marriage before we were married. I told her that I wanted understanding and togetherness. I wanted a wife that would be with me going through life.
Strive to be with each other, i.e., together, to build a happy and fulfilling relationship.
Engage Each Other
Show interest in some of the things your spouse is interested in or discussing with you. Be attentive when they talk about those things. Engage them when they express their thoughts and feelings to you. Doing so will help you bond as a couple at a deeper level.
It is rude and disheartening when your spouse expresses something, and you aren’t paying attention to or dismissing what she told you. You are telling her that you don’t care, which is bad for the relationship and is undoubtedly not a way to build a happy one.
Make Time For Yourself
An essential part of marriage is time for yourself. You are an individual, as is your wife. Therefore, you should not neglect yourself. Take time out to take care of yourself. Perhaps you want to learn a new language, skill, etc. Do it.
A false conception is that your spouse completes you. You complete yourself. Your spouse completes the union, not you. Therefore, ensure that you do not neglect yourself and your aspirations in life.
Be Willing to Compromise
You and your wife will not see eye-to-eye sometimes. That is okay. Therefore, you must be willing to compromise when decisions need to be made. She may want rugs on the floor, and you want tile. Discuss it and come to a mutually beneficial or satisfying decision.
Do not think you will always have your way in all decisions. You may need to give a little so that you both can agree to have something you will both enjoy. Be willing to compromise.
Compromise does not mean letting your spouse have their way all the time, nor does it mean sacrificing everything. It means coming to a consensus so you both get what you want, ultimately a happy marriage.
Work Together To Resolve Issues
Problems will arise in the marriage. However, working on the solutions to those problems is more productive than complaining about them. Work together to resolve issues instead of complaining and doing nothing about them.
An integral part of having a happy and fulfilling marriage is the need to work on it. Be willing to work and work together.
The silent killer of any relationship is resentment. Resentment is holding onto an offense committed against you by someone else, in this case, your spouse. Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. No. It is killing you and your relationship.
Instead, forgive, which means to release the resentment. Don’t hold a grudge towards your spouse for something they did to you in the past.
Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. Their offensive actions may be something you will take into consideration later. For example, you may learn that your spouse isn’t reliable at certain things or is frequently late. You’ll consider that in future dealings, but you won’t hold a grudge against them for it.
See my article on Pursuing the Truth Ministries’ website called The Art of Forgiveness.
Do not be irresponsible with your finances. Work together to control your spending and other financial activities. Don’t make major financial decisions alone. Instead, involve your spouse in major purchases and other financial decisions.
Financial stability does not mean you must be wealthy. It just means your finances are under control. You may have financial challenges and hardships. However, you must work together to make the situation better.
Budget the household finances and spend within that budget. Be wise with your finances, and don’t let it be a source of stress in the relationship.
Of course, you should be honest with each other. If you feel particular about something, express it honestly and respectfully with your spouse. Don’t explode one day because you’ve endured something for so long without telling your spouse.
I am honest when my wife asks my opinion about a new meal she prepared. If I think it was too salty, I’ll tell her. Don’t keep silent, deceiving her to think you like it when you don’t (whatever it is). Be honest and respectful.
Some might say that honesty might hurt your spouse’s feelings. That may be true, so consider the delivery of your honesty.
Share Responsibilities Justly
Both husband and wife should contribute to the house’s upkeep, children, and relationship. It should not be your wife’s job, for example, to clean the entire house while you spend your time watching television. Contribute to taking care of the house. Work together to care for the children. Share the responsibilities.
Have Fun and Enjoy Life
Purpose to have fun and enjoy life together. Don’t wait until it happens spontaneously. Instead, make time to have fun together. That could be a date night, a trip, etc. Just be sure to make time to have fun together. That will help build the bond between you two. Accept each other as is.
Take Care of Yourself
I already shared that you should take time out for yourself. That is part of a larger concept of taking care of yourself. Don’t expect your spouse to make you happy. Only you can make yourself happy. Your spouse can help make you happy about the marriage, but only you can make yourself happy.
Taking care of yourself and ensuring your own happiness is even more important when there are issues in the marriage, and you don’t feel so good about it. Don’t allow a bad marriage or bad situation to deter you from enjoying your life the best you can.
Always pursue your dreams and accomplish your goals.
Respect Each Other
Respect is essential in marriage, especially for men. However, I have witnessed spouses disrespecting each other, even while in public. Respect should be given at home and outside the home.
Don’t badmouth your spouse and tell others how you think they are bad at this or make fun of them. That is highly damaging to your spouse and, therefore, to the marriage.
Disrespecting your spouse makes withdrawals from their love bank, making them feel more negatively about you and the relationship. The concept of love banks is described in Willard Harley’s book, “His Needs Her Needs.”
Support Each Other
Supporting each other can help build the bond between husband and wife. That will help to establish a happy and fulfilling marriage.
You can support each other by encouraging, praying for, and ministering to one another. Help your spouse when you can. Be a shoulder for them to lean on or an ear to talk to. Be there for them.
Listen to your spouse when they tell you things. They may be exposing deep feelings, concerns, or fears. Don’t blow them off and take for granted what they are saying. Instead, pay attention and engage. Help if they ask you. Show them that you care about their feelings or what they are going through.
Don’t Compare Your Spouse to Others
It is a bad idea to compare your marriage or spouse to others. Don’t tell your wife she should be more like the neighbor’s wife. Don’t tell her she should be more like your mother. Please don’t do that! Don’t tell your husband he should be more like your brother or that your marriage should be more like someone else’s.
Work on your own issues and build your own relationship. Get to know each other and move forward, building a happy marriage together.
Don’t Control or Manipulate
People know when they are being manipulated or controlled. Therefore, don’t try to control your spouse by manipulating them or other means.
Do not use sex to manipulate your spouse. Sex is a critical part of most marriages and should not be used to control your spouse. For example, wives should not use sex to control their husbands. It is said that women are the gatekeepers of sex in marriage, which I tend to agree with. Therefore, wives should not use sex to manipulate or control their husbands.
I told my wife I wanted togetherness and understanding when she asked me what I wanted in marriage. Understanding is essential because it forces you to empathize. Sometimes, issues in the relationship arise because of misunderstandings. Therefore, seeking understanding is critical to building a happy and fulfilling marriage.
Don’t Allow Family and Friends to Interfere
Don’t allow your family and friends to interfere with your marriage by advising you on your issues or to build a successful marriage. You might use their input to help you develop plans and solutions for your marriage. However, don’t let them advise you of intimate issues between you and your spouse.
You should not share intimate information with anyone anyway. The exception is if you are facing issues or need help making a decision. If a close friend or family member has gone through a similar situation, they may provide helpful information or perspective.
No Emotional Outbursts
You might say or do things you regret later if you give in to emotional outbursts. Try to remain calm and in control when your feelings start going wild because of something your spouse did. Expressing your displeasure does not need to include emotional outbursts.
Never threaten to divorce your spouse when you are angry at them. That will plant a seed that may be impossible to take back.
Talk About the ChiLDren
Sometimes, a point of contention in marriages is the children. One parent may tend to appease the children, while the other may tend to be stricter. Discuss child raising before you get married or, at least, before children come.
Don’t Expect Your Spouse To Remain the Same
We all change as time passes. Therefore, it is unwise to expect your spouse to be the same person they were when you first met. They will change their perspective of things, their goals, and more. Be understanding and know that change is inevitable, as it is for you.
Don’t Expect Your Spouse to Make You Happy
A common misconception is that your spouse will complete you and make you happy. Both are wrong. As I mentioned earlier, your spouse does not complete you, nor will they make you happy. It’s not their responsibility to make you happy. Only you can make yourself happy, and only you can establish completeness.
Your spouse is part of the union called marriage, and they will complete it. Don’t expect them to make you happy. That’s something that only you can do.
Learn What Makes a Happy Marriage
Last, but surely not least. Learn what it takes to have a happy and fulfilling marriage. What do you want in a marriage? What does your spouse want? Work toward those expectations. Educate yourself by reading books and watching videos about healthy marriages. Join online marriage forums and observe what others are doing in their marriages.
The point here is to educate yourself about marriage and having a successful one. A happy marriage is not going to just happen. It requires work…a lot of work. It can be fun, exciting, and rewarding. However, it won’t happen if you don’t make it happen.
Marriage requires work like anything else. A healthy lawn requires maintenance. Becoming an artist or programmer requires education and practice. Marriage is the same way. It requires a lot of work.
In this article, I’ve shared some keys to making your marriage happy and fulfilling.
Feel free to leave your comments or ask questions. God bless you always. Be blessed!
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