You may have heard the stat that 50% of marriages end in divorce, but that means that 50% go on to be long, successful marriages. So, why focus on the negative when there are so many ways you can work to make it for the long haul? We’ve compiled a list of the 20 habits that can help with marriage complications you may be having. If you can incorporate these habits into your relationship, you can help fight off some of the root causes of most divorces.
Adventure Book can help!
If your dating life is looking a little bland, buy a copy of Adventures From Scratch: Date Edition to help put a little flavor back into your Friday night. It’s choc-a-bloc with creative games and challenges including quirky conversation starters, “Why I love you” cards and even an adventure journal! This awesome book will help adventurous couples make the most of their time together and find ways to reconnect. It’s the perfect gift for newlyweds and long-time spouses alike!
20 Habits to Help Your Marriage Remain Strong
Relationship experts have all kinds of advice for how to make your relationship work. This list covers all the important habits and rules that couples should practice as much as possible.
1. Share a hug every day.
Physical touch is extremely important for romantic relationships. Finding simple ways to hug each other or share some physical interaction daily. It’s a different way to connect; for some, it’s their love language and how they feel most appreciated.
Anytime you touch each other, it releases Oxytocin, also known as the love hormone. In addition to the hormone, hugging also reduces stress levels, improves heart health, boosts self-esteem, and reduces pain. Who knew that something free and so simple can have so many benefits? Start making an effort to hug each other every single day.
2. Celebrate the little moments.
A common mistake that many married couples make as they get comfortable is missing the opportunities to celebrate small things. Take time to cheer each other on and call out the small daily victories. Celebrate things like successful presentations at work or achieving fitness goals.
Set goals with each other about small things like having a no-spend week or month or exercising five times a week. Once you achieve those goals, you can find small ways to celebrate. It’s like having your accountability coach and cheerleader. Having a supportive partner that helps you meet your goals or works alongside you on the same ones. There will be an instant boost in your relationship because you’ll have someone in your corner who you know will support you and cheer you on, even for the little things.
3. Learn new things together.
Continuous learning benefits all humans, whether in a marriage or not. Learning new things helps keep you relevant, be prepared for the unexpected, change your perspective, exercise your brain, and improve your mental health.
Now take those benefits and match them up with the benefits of learning something new with your spouse. Learning new things with each other will help strengthen your connection and improve your communication. It puts you both in a more vulnerable state where you don’t know the answers and discover them together. You’ll be able to incorporate the previous habit of small celebrations when you learn something as a pair as well.
Options are endless, but there are some common and popular couples activities. Sign up for dance lessons and put together something you can impress your friends with at the next wedding you attend. Learn a new language together and use each other to practice. Maybe it will even inspire a fun vacation to test your knowledge. Read the same book and have your own private couples’ book club. Try a cooking class for the cuisine you both love. If you don’t love the first thing you try together, don’t give up; try something else. You’ll have some new skills in your toolbelt in no time.
4. Express gratitude often and genuinely.
A healthy marriage involves quite a bit of gratitude and acknowledgment. You never want your partner to think that you take them for granted. When they do nice things for you, you want to make sure to take a second to appreciate their kindness and thoughtfulness. It can be as simple as just saying thank you or leaving them a little note. Any way that you can let them know that you noticed their kindness and consideration and it meant something to you.
Doing it every time there is any act of kindness may not be genuine, so many couples take a larger approach and do it less often. Picking up some flowers or a little gift and just calling out what their partner has done over the past days or weeks is a great option. You never know when the responsibilities will shift due to health, work pressure, or other life stress, so it’s important to call out your partner’s actions and be grateful that you have someone to support you and your family and make sure you return the favor.
5. Incorporate fun rituals into your routines.
Everyone has been warned that marriage is hard work, but it’s so much more than that. Marriage is also about having a partner to share in the good moments as well. While most people aren’t able to constantly be on vacation, there are ways to have fun every day. Try to make the mundane parts of your routine fun.
Put on a special playlist while cleaning up after dinner or putting laundry away and have a little dance party. Treat yourselves to a fun dessert each time to get all your boring errands complete. Find fun ways to exercise together, like pickleball or a yoga class. By making the boring, old routines a little more fun, you’ll be able to laugh together more and appreciate the time you spend with one another that you may have avoided in the past.
6. Have productive fights.
Even the most healthy relationships include fighting. It’s unhealthy if there aren’t some disagreements between two people. Everyone has their perspectives, opinions, preferences, and quirks that might create some conflict over time. The trick to keeping your marriage strong is to have productive fights. If you argue with each other and never find any resolution, people get upset and worked up without any progress.
One way to improve the productivity of your fights is to explore them more and be curious when you aren’t in the middle of them. For example, do you often argue at the same time of day or in a particular place? What triggers those disagreements? Can you get to the root cause of the fight and find a way to deal with that when you aren’t in the situation? You’ll have more time to compromise and work it out when you’re removed a bit from the stressful moment.
Timeouts are another way to help reduce the number of hurtful things you may say to your partner. Emotions can run high, and things said in the heat of the moment can often be hard to forget. By allowing each other a timeout when things get heated, you’ll be able to think more clearly about what you’re hoping to accomplish and allow your emotions to cool off a bit simultaneously. Make sure you understand your partner well and ask for clarification if needed. Misunderstandings are one of the major reasons behind the conflict.
7. Complete household projects as a team.
Not only is your marriage work, but keeping your household functioning, healthy, and comfortable is also important. Some chores and projects need to be completed constantly, especially if you own a home together. Try and use those projects as an opportunity to work together. Completing a home project will be such an accomplishment, and you’ll be able to enjoy it and be reminded of it daily.
Treat chores as a fun project and split the duties. There should be some balance between who takes care of what so there isn’t a constant annoyance or building resentment. If one person feels like they are handling more than the other, the best thing to do is make a request of the other instead of complaining. That can help ward off additional disagreements. It feels a lot different for someone to hear your reasoning and request instead of passive-aggressive complaining that isn’t productive.
8. Eat meals together.
Many families rush through meal times today with a packed schedule and or the distraction of phones and televisions. Meal time is such a great time to connect with your partner, so try and plan for at least one meal a day where you can sit together and eat. Focusing on your food and minimizing distractions isn’t just good for your relationships. It’s also better for your overall health.
Meals together can happen on date nights out at restaurants, either your favorites or at brand new spots. But enjoying meals together at home is just as wonderful as long as you’re focused on each other and the conversation and not watching TV or reading emails on your phone while eating.
9. Be open about your sex life and intimacy.
Married couples should be able to have conversations about everything, even stuff that they wouldn’t talk about with other people. Sex and intimacy are important topics that should be covered. If there is a lack of communication about intimacy, there can be resentment and possibly even a desire to stray from the relationship and find intimacy elsewhere.
By having open conversations about what you like, how you’re feeling, and if there’s anything that makes you uncomfortable, you’ll connect more easily with your partner. Be open with each other and check in as much as possible to stay on the same page. If you struggle to have these conversations, it might be good to work with a marriage counselor (we will get to that advice in more detail below.)
10. Good communication is key.
Poor communication is one of the biggest issues in struggling marriages and relationships. To keep a happy marriage, you must constantly work on your communication skills. It’s important to stay connected to each other. Share the things that feel insignificant in your day-to-day life, but also take time to sit down and get deep on things.
With deep or sensitive topics, make sure to avoid stonewalling your partner. If your partner is asking questions that you aren’t comfortable answering, take a little time and see if you can get to the bottom of your hesitation to get into something. Try to understand your spouse’s point of view and be empathetic. Be a safe space for each other to share feelings and thoughts without judgment. Being a good communicator in your marriage requires constant work and practice to avoid complacency.
11. Get plenty of sleep together.
Focusing on your health and wellness is essential because you can only be strong and support your significant other if you’re feeling good yourself. One of the most important ways to stay healthy is to get enough sleep. This is something you should do with your partner as often as possible. Get into good nighttime habits with each other. Creating routines, like enjoying some tea and reading together, will help you both get better sleep.
Sleeping next to someone you love has some health benefits that cannot be ignored. It can lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation because your body releases oxytocin and has lower cortisol levels. If you can go to sleep at the same time, you’ll enjoy a stronger bond and improve your overall health.
12. Practice small acts of kindness.
Grand gestures are talked about all the time, like engagements, weddings, and big anniversary celebrations. But those aren’t the only moments of celebration and giving within a relationship. Small acts of kindness make such a big difference for people. Make sure that you’re looking for opportunities to do something nice for your partner. Maybe you take care of an errand that the other person hates or wake up extra early to cook their favorite breakfast on a day they have a big meeting or presentation.
These little acts will be just as appreciated as the big acts because they are often unexpected. Sometimes the smallest thing can change the course of someone’s day for the better. Make your spouse smile and go a little out of your way to make their day brighter.
13. Hang out with mutual friends.
Spending time with friends and socializing is an important part of human nature. Couples often begin the relationship with their groups of friends; over time, those friends can merge. But it’s also a good idea to make some friends together as a couple. You want people that support your relationship and love the two of you together and who you can do the same for.
By sharing a social group, couples tend to have higher satisfaction in their relationship. More activities can be done together, increasing the feeling of commitment. Find ways to meet other couples through classes or community activities, and develop friendships. It will help your relationship and widen your network of supporters.
14. Escape and unplug with each other.
Daily routines can get anyone into a rut, so it’s always a good idea to plan for some escape from the usual stuff. Plan vacations and getaways that allow you to unplug together. These adventures will help your mental health and help you connect with each other in a new setting away from the usual noise.
Vacations are especially helpful if you feel like you’re stuck in your communication or starting to feel disconnected. Spending concentrated and intentional time together can help you get back on track. You’ll get to be more romantic and not be distracted by emails, text messages, and constant interruptions.
15. Acknowledge your partner’s feelings.
Many marital issues stem from one partner feeling like they aren’t being taken seriously in conversations. If one spouse’s feelings are ignored or dismissed, they can shut down and stop participating in the conversation. Regardless of how much you might disagree with your partner’s opinions on something, it’s so important to actively listen to where they are coming from and try to understand their point of view.
Defensiveness is a common problem that causes one person to shut out the other. Try being self-aware and open to hearing the other side. It can be hard to take criticism, but if it’s coming from a place of love, you must listen and acknowledge the way your partner is feeling. Keep this in mind during your tough conversations, and you’ll find that you resolve a little easier because no one feels dismissed.
16. Discuss all important decisions.
The most common marital problems involve finances, parenting methods and family, household responsibilities, and communication. Large decisions should never be made by just one party. A marriage is a unit that works together, so make sure that anything that might impact your partner or family should be discussed.
Often there is a change at work, like a promotion, that might feel like it doesn’t impact your partner, but it’s important to communicate and make sure they don’t feel blindsided. If you’re traveling more or expected to work nights or weekends, it will impact your home life. The same goes for financial decisions. It doesn’t matter if one partner makes more money than the other, there should be an open dialogue around financial decisions, so everyone feels comfortable with big purchases or changes.
17. Give each other space.
Married couples spend a lot of time together, and having shared interests and friends is important. But there should also be some space for each individual to do as they wish. You aren’t going to completely align with each other on everything, so having some time and space to explore the interests that aren’t the same is healthy for the relationship. You’ll have more to talk about over dinner if you don’t spend every waking minute with each other.
18. Don’t make everything a competition.
Game nights are a great date night idea because friendly competition is healthy and entertaining. But it’s important to remember that competition isn’t everything. In disagreements, it’s important to find productive ways to move on. If you’re constantly trying to “win” in an argument, you aren’t helping to find a resolution. This applies to everything from silly trivia facts to who completes more housework. Too much competition in a relationship can lead to deeper issues between you because when someone tries to win, it makes the other person lose. Save the battles for the fun moments and work to compromise and collaborate on the serious stuff.
19. Honor and respect one another in all situations.
It’s no surprise that almost every version of marriage vows include the promise to honor one another. A good marriage centers around honor, respect, and of course, love. Even in the worst fights, speaking the truth and not using nasty comments to bring the other person down is important.
In a larger context, loyalty and honoring your commitments are important for your marriage. Infidelity is extremely disrespectful, but many smaller things also fall into that category. Be careful not to speak ill of your partner to others behind their backs. If you have issues, speak directly to your spouse and address them with them instead of airing out your dirty laundry to others.
20. Utilize couples counseling.
The final habit that can help your marriage is to start couples therapy. Many licensed therapists in every community have lots of experience helping couples with marriage problems. Still, they are also helpful to couples that aren’t experiencing any serious issues. Marriage counseling can help both partners become better communicators, work through issues from the past, and have productive conversations about the future.
A therapist’s office is a safe place to work through anything that might be on your mind. It gives you a coach and support person to help you through the hard moments and improve even during the best of times. You’ll receive helpful tools to use at home and chat about things outside of your marriage if necessary as well.
Final Thoughts on Habits That Can Help Your Marriage
This list should help inspire some positive change in your relationship. Whether you’ve been married for years or you’re prepping for your walk down the aisle, these habits will be beneficial.
Got any habits we missed? Drop them in the comments!
Also, check out “How to Promote Healthy Family Communication” for some insight on making your next conversation a productive one.
Frequently Asked Questions
Strong marriages and relationships take work on a daily basis. Getting help with marriage problems from a professional is never a bad idea.
If you need help with marriage issues, the best resource is a professional marriage therapist or counselor. They can provide tools to help you communicate with one another.
Quality time is one of the best gifts you can give your partner. Pick up a copy of the Adventures from Scratch: Couples Edition, which is filled with ideas for fun activities you can do together!