After ten years of marriage (and 14 years of “coupledom”), you’d think my spouse and I would have it all figured out. But we don’t….
The truth is that marriage is (and probably always will be) difficult. Getting along with anyone takes time and lots of hard work.
But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be fun.
Over the years, I’ve learned that there are five tricks to having a better marriage. Whether your marriage is solid or sometimes a struggle, these tricks will help!
5 Secrets to Having a Better Marriage
1. Stop keeping score
I used to get so frustrated when I was first married and I thought my husband wasn’t “pulling his weight.”
How dare he leave his glass on the table and his chair pushed out when I had just finished preparing the dinner and doing the dishes? You’d think World War III was going to start in our house.
Then there was the issue of the division of chores.
My husband and I naturally divided the chores: I took the inside and he took the outside of the house. But he would spend an hour a week cutting the grass while I spent at least an hour a day doing laundry, picking up, doing dishes…. Really?!?
Isn’t marriage supposed to be 50/50?
One of the most relationship-changing things that I finally realized was that marriage isn’t supposed to be 50/50. There’s no scorecard in marriage and no one is taking a tally of who does which chores.
Instead of focusing on what your spouse isn’t doing, think about the way that he blesses you and your marriage. Trust me, you’ll both be much happier.
Sure, there may be times when you genuinely need help. But instead of huffing off about everything that you’re doing that he’s not, try simply asking for a hand.
2. Ask for help
Whether it’s help with “your chores” or help with an emotional issue that you’re dealing with, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Your spouse isn’t a mind reader. Even if you’re “sending out all the signals,” your spouse may not realize what you want or need.
When I was angry because the kids had left their breakfast dishes on the table and it was dinner time, my husband had no idea why I was frustrated. Instead of just asking for help cleaning the kitchen, I would stomp around, sighing and muttering about cleaning.
While my husband is learning that “I’m fine” with my arms crossed usually signals that I’m unhappy, it’s not fair to ask him to interpret. Learning to ask for help has saved a lot of fights (and pouting on my end). 😉
3. Be a better listener
As an introvert, you’d think I’d be a great listener. But sometimes it’s not always “using your ears” that makes you a great listener. In addition to listening with your ears, asking the right questions can help, too.
Communication is the key to a great marriage, but it’s a little hard to communicate if one person isn’t even listening.
Learning to listen (and learning what to listen for) changed our marriage. I loved The Listening Life because it not only showed me how to be a better listener, but it also taught me how to communicate so that I was heard.
4. Work together
My marriage is a little on the lonely side (just to throw it out there). My spouse travels for his job and we own a farm on top of it, so he’s not always home.
But, even if your spouse is frequently gone, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you! And while marriage is a team effort, there are still things that you can do on your own to make it better.
Work as a team, both when your spouse is home and when he’s gone. When he’s home, try not to make everything a work party (don’t ask how I know that your “honey do list” gets longer by the day).
Spend some time having real converstaions. Also, make plans for the days when your spouse won’t be busy (for me, this is during August or the winter when my husband isn’t as busy on the farm, but this could be any time when your spouse isn’t as busy at work).If you’re looking for more ways to work on your marriage, both with your spouse and during the time that he’s not available, I love the Marriage Builder Toolkit. It’s a workbook designed for wives to improve their marriages. My favorite part is the marriage bucket list (the date night planner is also perfect to plan time together when your spouse isn’t overwhelmed at work).
Work with your husband to set marriage goals and dream a little!
5. Learn your love language
Have you ever heard that saying “men are from Mars and women are from Venus?” It’s partially true.
By learning your own love language, you’ll know how you want others to communicate with you. You’ll also start to recognize others’ love languages, as well.
Chances are that your spouse is nothing like you. While that’s probably a good thing, it can make communication more challenging. But if you reframe your message (or honey-do list) into your spouse’s love language, you’ll start to see a huge transformation in your marriage. One book that helped me was Now You’re Speaking My Language by Dr. Gary Chapman.
Bonus: Make it fun
Keeping spice in your marriage is so important. Once you have kids, it’s so easy to find every excuse to avoid intimacy.
Even so, make “fun” one of your marriage goals. Whether you need to spice things up or just have regular date nights, make your marriage a priority.
I love the Boost Your Libido course for tips to spice up your marriage. It’s realistic, but helps you dive deep to determine your needs, find motivation, and, of course, get you in the mood. 😉
Marriage isn’t always a walk in the park. Every marriage has its challenges, but learning to work through them in a way that makes sense to both of you is so important. By throwing away the scorecard, asking for help, listening, making it fun, and communicating, your marriage will have a great foundation.