Now, before you read this post, I’d like to note that I don’t consider myself an expert in this matter. However, being with Timon for quite some time now has taught me a few valuable lessons about what makes a happy and healthy marriage. Some of these secrets also come from couples in our circle of friends who’ve been together for 5, 10 and even 20 years! There must be at least a thing or two that we can learn from them.
So what are the secrets to having a healthy marriage?
Do things that would make your partner happy even if you don’t want to do it
I remember one day I spent an entire hour at night ironing all of Timon’s shirts. It was almost 11pm, and after folding all of his shirts, I started to get ready for bed. Soon after, Timon came out of our bedroom with another shirt and asked if I could iron that one for him, because he wanted to wear it for work the next day. The first thing that came into my mind was: “I spent an entire hour ironing at least 10 of your shirts! Why do you have to wear THAT one tomorrow? Why can’t you wear one of the 10 I already ironed?”.
I didn’t tell him what I thought. I took his shirt and started ironing it. Surprisingly, I wasn’t mad at him for asking me this favor. He immediately regretted it when he realized that I already spent so much time ironing his other shirts. He asked to do it himself, but I wanted to do it for him even though I was tired and just wanted to go to bed. Why? Simply because I love him. I’ve realized that Timon rarely asks me for favors. I do a lot of things for him thinking that it would make him happy, but he never asked for those things or at least never expected me to do all that for him. Like he didn’t expect me to start ironing all of his shirts. But when he does ask, I know that it would make him happy if I did it.
The same thing goes for him. He rarely cooks, but a few times he did it to surprise me when I came home after a long day at work. I know he doesn’t like being in the kitchen, but he still did it to make me happy. I truly believe that in a relationship, you sometimes need to care more about the other person’s happiness than your own, but it has to work both ways.
Don’t talk. Just listen
I don’t have any scientific proof to support this fact, but I notice that sometimes women simply want to express their feelings when talking about a problem. Men on the other hand need to find a solution for every single problem. This is true in my relationship. I sometimes tell Timon all the bad things that I encountered during the day, simply because I want him to listen. I don’t expect him to find solutions for me. But Timon, being a man, likes to give me advice and tell me how sometimes I’m just overreacting, which is true in some cases. Now, let’s be honest here. Isn’t it frustrating when men tell us that we’re overreacting or tell us to calm down? I know I do. I dislike it really much when these words come out of Timon’s mouth. I had to tell him a couple of times that all I want is for him to be a good listener, and not so much of an adviser!
But men also want to talk and express their feelings. We have this misconception that they don’t feel anything and are simply logical, but that isn’t true. Sometimes Timon expresses how he feels towards a situation, and my first reaction is to tell him my opinion (Oh, women can be so opiniated sometimes! Aren’t we?). Not listenning to your partner and always expressing what you think or feel may be the root of many frustrations and arguments. I realize that some of our arguments could’ve been avoided if I was a better listenner (same goes for him!).
Forgive and sometimes….forget
It’s true that some things cannot be forgotten, especially if they’ve affected us deeply. But in some circumtances, there are mistakes that don’t need to be reminded of. We all make mistakes, and because we’re humans, it’s really likely that we make the same mistakes again. But there are some things we shouldn’t dwell on. We shouldn’t bring back old mistakes that have already been forgiven. They should’ve been forgotten.
Respect each other in all circumstances
My mother always tells me that words are powerful and to be careful with what I say. Somebody can punch you in the face, and the bruises can fade away after a certain time, but words can crush your spirit forever. It’s easy to respect each other when things are doing great, but it’s during rocky times that we need to be even more careful with our words. You don’t need to call each other names to be disrespectful. Bringing the other person down is also a sign of disrespect. “In all circumstances” also means in private and in public. We sometimes make the mistake of telling embarassing stories about our partner in front of our friends as a joke. But this can be hurtful. At all times we should have the attitude of honoring our partner rather than embarassing them. Doesn’t matter when or where, one of the secrets to a happy and healthy relationship is having respect towards each other at all times.
Go on dates with your partner
There’s a couple at our church who’s been together for more than 10 years. We often hear them telling stories about their date nights. This proves to me how much they love spending time with each other. When you’re dating someone, it’s natural to want to go out to eat, watch movies, or simply spend time with each other. But when you’re married, it’s sometimes easy to think that you don’t need date nights, because you’re already seeing each other every day. I believe going on dates is important no matter the status of the relationship. People ask “How to make a relationship work?”, and one of the answers is simply spending time with each other. Doing things that you like to do together. And even when you’re busy with school, work or kids, you need to go on dates with your significant other. Schedule the date. It could be once a week or it could be once a month. Whatever works best for the two of you. That’s how you keep the fire burning.
It always makes me happy when Timon tells me that he has planned a date night for us. Even after a rough day, thinking about our next date always cheers me up. You can find thousands of excuses not to go on dates with your partner, but you can also find millions of reasons to spend time with each other.
Do you have any secrets to having a healthy marriage that you can share?