By Vered DeLeeuw, REDBOOK
Check out these tried and true tips for a happy marriage.
1. Accept each other. And I mean really accept. Because so many say they accept their partner for what they are, when in fact on a deeper, even unconscious level, they want to change them. Example? My husband is not exactly a social butterfly. Sometimes, over dinner with friends, I think to myself that it would be nice if he talked a little more, you know, so that not so much of the "keeping the conversation alive" burden was on me. But then I look at him, sitting there and listening quietly, only speaking when he feels he actually has something to say, and I smile. After all, this is exactly why I fell in love with him in the first place - this quiet, super intelligent man that does not talk unless he actually has something useful to add to the conversation.
2. Aim for "good enough." This may sound blatantly unromantic to some of you younger readers, but "good enough" as a general goal in life, as opposed to "perfect" or "amazing" or "awesome" makes a big difference in terms of your ability to be happy. Back in law school, 15 years ago, we studied an interesting court ruling. It said that the law demands that parents are "good enough" - parents do not need to be great parents, or good parents - they simply need to be "good enough." An interesting concept, for sure, and it got me thinking that humans throughout history have asked for very little, and it's now in modern society that we've come to expect the "Wow!" in everything, from our careers to our personal lives, but what good does it do to us? Divorce rates are sky high, people are unhappy with their perfectly good jobs, we have more than people ever had yet we feel so unhappy. By reaching too high, we're dooming ourselves to perpetual unhappiness. So in most areas of life, including marriage, I would suggest aiming just a little lower, not looking for the "Wow!" but instead settling for "good enough." It may very well turn into perpetual bliss!
3. When the other wants to make up, accept. My husband and I used to have bad fights when we were younger. (We've been together for over 20 years). Some of these fights would drag on for days, until one day, after an especially bitter fight, we made a rule: When one of us reaches out to the other by extending their hand and asking the other to hold hands, the other person absolutely must accept, no matter how angry they are at the moment. Did you know that holding hands melts anger away? This very rigid rule has saved us from many uncontrollable fights.
4. Accept that the grass on the other side only seems greener. When you've been with the same partner for a while, sometimes you look around you and wonder about what it would be like to be with other people. But my husband and I have this joke; we say that certainly, there are plenty of fish in the sea, but most of them are not very appetizing. It's our little way of acknowledging that we look at the other "fish" and notice them, but that we do not allow ourselves to get carried away and fall in love with anyone else. Because falling in love is often a choice, and when you have a partner, and a relationship that's important to you, you should make the choice not to fall in love with someone else.
5. Laugh. A lot. Everything in life is better if you can laugh about it. The number one enemy of any relationship - whether friendship or a romantic relationship - is people who take themselves too seriously. But if you can laugh at yourself, and laugh at life, and at all the little curve balls that life throws at you, even at the fabulous gifts you both receive from Grandfather Time, then you'll have so much fun together, and your marriage will hugely benefit.
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.