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10 Tips for a Marriage That Doesn't Suck

Photo Source: Ambro

A few weeks ago I asked my brilliant readers the following question: What is the best piece of advice you ever got on how to have a happy, healthy marriage (or partnership or relationship)? In response, I got over 500 comments which I then collected, sorted and analyzed. I even made charts.

Below, you’ll find the top ten pieces of advice on how to improve your relationship. But there are a couple of caveats I should mention, as none of this really works without them in mind. Here they are:

  • None of this advice applies to a relationship that is unsafe or unhealthy.
  • This is advice for when both partners want to make the relationship work.
  • There has to be trust and it has to be there for both people.
  • This is advice given primarily by women, for women.
  • There isn’t one solution that’s going to work for everyone. If there were, and I had just figured it out, I would be reading this post while on the Today Show, getting drunk off boxed wine with Kathie Lee and Hoda while Dr. Phil, forlorn and defeated, was forced to sell his mustache.

So here are the top ten tips! If you want to read more, we have a ginormous report of all the results at Rants from Mommyland.


  • A Very Scientific Chart About Marital Happiness 1 of 13
    A Very Scientific Chart About Marital Happiness
    This bar chart shows the top ten groupings of advice and tips that readers mentioned. These include the nearly 500 comments I received, aggregated into such highly professional categories as "Sexytime is Good for You" and "Don't be a Dick".
  • Sexytime is very, very good for you 2 of 13
    Sexytime is very, very good for you
    The importance of having frequent (ahem) relations was mentioned more often than anything else. It was acknowledged a lot of the women who commented (mostly moms with young kids) tend to be less into it than men. But it was also clear that making nookie a priority is super important if both partners are going to be happy. Another theme through the comments: Don't be stingy with the BJ's.
    Photo credit: ChrisRoll
  • Don’t talk schmidt and call it venting 3 of 13
    Don't talk schmidt and call it venting
    This includes being nasty to your partner in public or in front of other people, excessive complaining and nagging, venting about your spouse too much or in a way that will end up biting you both in the ass and, of course, the very important skill that so few of us have mastered: knowing when to zip it.
    Photo credit: David Castillo Dominici
  • You betta work, ’cause it ain’t easy 4 of 13
    You betta work, 'cause it ain't easy
    This includes all the things you should be actively doing to try and make it work. Things that range from saying ‘I love you' every day to seeking therapy, if needed. Sometimes doing the work means working on the marriage and sometimes it means working on yourself.
    Photo credit: Wikipedia
  • Fight fair and don’t be dickish 5 of 13
    Fight fair and don't be dickish
    Calling each other names, being intentionally nasty or bringing up stuff from the past that you haven't been able to let go of is not exactly helpful. No matter how mad you are or how much they deserve it, completely losing your schmidt or doing something to degrade or humiliate your partner is never OK.
    Photo credit: David Castillo Dominici
  • Communication? Oh even yesser 6 of 13
    Communication? Oh even yesser
    Touch base every single day —even if it's just for a couple of minutes. Listen to each other. When in doubt, say something. If you can't say it — text it. Growing apart happens so easily, almost effortlessly. Staying in touch with each other takes effort, timing and sometimes, strategy.
    Photo credit: David Castillo Dominici
  • Men are not mind readers 7 of 13
    Men are not mind readers
    Have you ever said some variation of: "Well if you don't know, then I shouldn't have to tell you" or gotten angry because your husband didn't do something that obviously needed to get done? The point is you must be annoyingly straightforward about what you would like. Live by this rule: If you do not ask, you will not get.
    Photo credit: Salvatore Vuono
  • Pick your battles, b*tches 8 of 13
    Pick your battles, b*tches
    We've all heard this before and we all know how true it is. Also included in this category? Adjusting expectations. This does not mean that you live with unhappiness or crappy behavior, but rather that unreasonable expectations get replaced with those that have some basis in reality minimizing disappointment and making it easier for everyone (including you) to live up to them.
    Photo credit: Stuart Miles
  • Must have date night 9 of 13
    Must have date night
    You have to take time to be together and hang out. It doesn't have to be dinner and a babysitter. It can be a game of cards after your offspring go to sleep. I swear every date I have with my husband ends up at the grocery store, but we're both cool with that. Because time together should be a priority and we're happy to take it where we can get it.
    Photo credit: ohmmy3d
  • Take time for yourself — take it and RUN 10 of 13
    Take time for yourself — take it and RUN
    Time with girlfriends or at Zumba or just being by yourself for a little while — INVALUABLE. Ask for it. Demand it. Make sure you get it. And make sure he gets it, too. Because he needs it just as much as you do. You'll both be happier for it.
    Photo credit: Target
  • Use your damn manners 11 of 13
    Use your damn manners
    We kill ourselves making sure our kids say please and thank you. That they understand that being rude means that they're essentially ungrateful and lack respect for other people. Bottom line? Everyone is deserving of courtesy and respect. And when it's the hardest to give, it's usually when it's the most necessary.
    Photo credit: Ambro
  • Another Scientific Chart That Shows A Different Perspective 12 of 13
    Another Scientific Chart That Shows A Different Perspective
    While it looks like sex is the most important thing up there on that first fancy bar chart, it's actually not. Everything other than sex is either really about communication or actively doing stuff to make the marriage a priority (go on a date, give your undivided attention, take time for yourself to recharge your batteries, etc.). Really, how it breaks down is more like the three areas you see here.
  • One last thing to consider … 13 of 13
    One last thing to consider ...
    It's a fact of life that every relationship has difficult times. Some are very difficult indeed. And sometimes it's healthier for everyone when a marriage ends. If a relationship is truly destructive or dangerous, sticking it out in the hopes it will get better is not the best solution.

    But for everyone else, consider that no relationship is perfect. No marriage will be happy all the time. You will fight, bad things will happen and you must choose how to get through them. Here's a comment that says it better than I ever could:

    "My grandmother told me: "Gramps and I have been married for over 50 years. During those 50 years, there were at least 5 years of time in which I hated his guts. I couldn't stand the sight of him. All I could think about was that I would be better off without him, or with someone else. After a few months (or in one time, years), we would talk it out, and things would get better. Now, looking back, we were happy for probably 90% of our marriage. Not bad odds. And those 5 years don't seem so bad in comparison to our life together. So be prepared. There will be times in which you hate your husband. Just try to hang on until it gets better."
    Photo credit: Ambro

All photos are sourced. All captions are done by me.

Read more from Julie at her blog Rants from MommyLand. Follow Julie on Facebook and Twitter for additional goofy nonsense at no extra charge. You can catch up on her posts for Strollerderby, too – where she is often slightly less stupid.

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