Everyone’s marriage is unique depending on the two people in the relationship, and there’s no “one size fits all” advice for a happy marriage. But as people who collectively have many years of marital experience (the good and challenging times) under their belts, we like to think we know a little something about wedded bliss — or at least wedded contentment and happiness. When it comes to being a great spouse, it’s not rocket science… but everyone benefits from a little refresher every now and then. Of course, one of the things that’s vital to a successful marriage is always striving to be better and grow as a person. Check out our 5 tips for becoming a better spouse.
Listen to Your Partner (Like, REALLY Listen!)
Nobody likes repeating themselves, but that’s often what ends up happening when talking with another person — especially if it’s a person you’ve been married to for several years. Humans tend to get comfortable, and when you’re comfortable, sometimes listening skills suffer. One of the most important things you can do to become a better spouse is to listen when your partner is speaking — really listen. We’re not talking well-timed head-nods and appropriate facial reactions, we’re talking putting down all distractions and giving your partner your full attention and empathy. Now, active listening isn’t something that always comes naturally, and that’s why we love this guide to becoming a better, active listener. Once you start employing these tactics, you might be amazed at just how little you’ve been listening during conversations. (Oops.)
Be an Honest, Open Communicator
We cannot stress enough how important communication is to a relationship. Humans aren’t mind-readers, and assuming things can lead to a host of problems — fights, hurt feelings and resentment, just to name a few. Even though being honest with yourself and your partner can sometimes feel uncomfortable, it’s absolutely vital to the health of your marriage. Honesty is one of the best gifts you can give to your partner and is one of the things that can really elevate someone from the realm of “good spouse” to the pantheon of “great spouse.”
Remember the Little Things (This Will Be Easy if You Listen!)
Remember our first point — the one about listening? The more you actively listen to your partner, the more you’ll recognize opportunities to show them just how much you love them. Maybe in your wife’s daily decompression chat, she absent-mindedly mentioned a book she has been wanting to read but just hasn’t gotten around to buying. Order that book and surprise her with it — she’ll be delighted at both the gift and the fact that you were listening to her when she thought she was simply chatting. If your partner has a big milestone coming up (the anniversary of a difficult day, an exam for school, or an important presentation at work), make a discreet mark on your personal calendar as a reminder to do something nice for them on that day. All of these little things go a long way to becoming a better spouse.
Ask, “Do You Need Advice, or Empathy?”
Too often we tend to want to fix things when sometimes, things don’t need fixing — they just need an empathetic ear. That’s why we suggest asking your spouse the question, “Do you need advice, or empathy?” when they’re venting about something. It can be frustrating for a person merely wanting to rant about their bad day to be inundated with solutions, and presenting solutions to an unfixable problem may just exacerbate your spouse’s already poor mood. Before assuming what your partner needs, go ahead and employ that honest, open communication and just ask them what they need from you — and then, be prepared to deliver.
Prioritize Your Partner
This last tip might seem like a no-brainer, but ask any couple that’s been married for a while if they make each other a priority, and you’re likely to get a lot of sheepish looks and shrugging. Between work obligations, children, friends and having personal interests and hobbies, it’s incredibly easy to let your partner (and, as a result, your marriage) take a back seat to all of the other things going on in your life. But remember, you picked your partner to have and to hold, for better or for worse. When all of the other obligations fade away, transition to other things, or grow up and move out of your house (and they will!), your marriage is what’s left standing. Don’t forget to put your partner first amongst all the noise and chaos of daily life — the reward is an indestructible bond for many years to come.