A friend of mine once asked, “How do you have such a great marriage?” She asked because I know the secret to a happy marriage. And I’ve been using this very easy secret for years of marital bliss.
Did you know that in the U.S. almost 50% of all marriages will end in divorce? For those on their second marriage, 60% will end in divorce. In fact, there is a divorce every 13 seconds which is 6,646 divorces per day or 2,419,196 divorces per year. Though this might seem grim, some people have figured it out and live with long, happy marriages. So what’s their secret?
What is the secret to a happy marriage? Read on to find out.
I have been married for 15 years, and for the most part, it has been a perfect marriage. While some couples argue and fight incessantly, my husband and I seem to be on a smooth ride with just a few bumps in the road.
During the last fifteen years, I raised three stepsons to adulthood and then had three kids of my own. Raising stepsons was the hardest thing I have ever done and by itself was enough of a challenge for any marriage. But during that time we had all kinds of other problems that could have put a strain on our relationship.
We were self-employed in the construction industry at the time and suffered enormous financial losses during the housing market collapse. Also, my three pregnancies were very high risk, and each ended up with near death emergency c-sections and fragile premies that required lots of extra care. I had other challenging health problems during this time, and so did some of my kids. But despite all these issues and more, our marriage remained strong. How is this possible?
The First Step
My friend, Lisa (named changed), told me that she had been struggling with a difficult marriage for years. She was so frustrated that she didn’t know how much longer it would last. She complained about the things her husband did that created problems in her life and how unreliable he was. In fact, Lisa felt like she had to parent him because if she didn’t, then their life would be an even bigger mess.
She came to me with this problem, not because I’m a counselor or professional of any kind, but because she observed that my marriage was stable and healthy and thriving. But for me to tell her the secret to a happy marriage, she would have to do something first. I gave her a simple challenge to complete. After that, I would tell her the secret.
The One Week Challenge
Lisa had to do two things each day for one week. No matter how hard it was, she had to compliment her husband for one thing, and she had to thank him for one thing. She wasn’t supposed to take this lightly. It had to be a real compliment for an actual quality her husband had, and a genuine thank you for something her husband did.
A strong commitment to the challenge was necessary. They both were carrying the baggage of years of anger and frustration toward each other for various arguments and negative behavior patterns. Once Lisa finally committed and did the challenge, it had a magical effect on her marriage.
On the first day, when she was running late at work, her husband brought home dinner from a fast food restaurant for her and the kids. Lisa worked as a fitness instructor, so she had forbidden fast food in their house. So normally she would have chewed him out for bringing home that kind of food. Then they probably would have gotten into an argument, brought up old hurts and resentments, and then end up going to bed angry.
But instead, she tried the challenge I gave her. She thanked her husband for bringing home the fast food so that they had a meal ready in time. In shock, he stopped and looked at her for a moment and said, “Thank you so much for appreciating my effort.”
As the week went by and she thanked him and complimented him each day, his heart softened, and her heart softened. They had a warm feeling develop between them by the end of the week.
When she saw me again, she was so excited to tell me the progress they had made and that she was ready to learn the secret to a happy marriage.
The Secret to a Happy Marriage
When Lisa told me about the success she had during her one week challenge, I was so happy for her. There is nothing better than being in a warm, loving relationship where there isn’t any fighting or animosity going on. When she said she was ready for the secret, I told her that she already knows the secret.
The secret to a happy marriage is to be kind to your spouse. It’s that simple. The reason my marriage survived all the struggles in life and is still going strong is that we are kind to each other. It seems almost too simple, right? But you would be surprised at how often couples fight and argue over things that they could solve with kindness.
My husband and I both have strong personalities, and we are stubborn as all get out, but yet we have the perfect marriage because despite our differences we make it a point to be kind to each other all the time.
We show kindness to each other in many different ways. I compliment my husband regularly. In fact, I frequently tell him that he is my hero. I butter him up all the time with all kinds of sweet compliments, and I show gratitude for his efforts. He does the same with me. In fact, just yesterday, he told me he’s glad he married to such an awesome woman.
Even when one of us is grumpy and snaps a little at something, the other tries to be extra kind and patient to compensate and work things out. And we are genuine in the way we say things. The kindness comes from the heart. Being kind might be challenging if you are already in a negative behavior pattern with your spouse, but you can start by doing the one week challenge. The more you try to be kind, the easier it will get.
Now It’s Your Turn for the One Week Marriage Improvement Challenge
If your marriage is struggling, you might be wondering, “What about the responsibility my spouse has to be kind to me? What if he or she is still acting like a jerk despite all my efforts?” Well, the good news is, kindness breeds kindness. The longer you treat a person with loving kindness, the more chance they will start treating you nice too. In fact, a famous writer, Richard Paul Evans, turned his terrible marriage into a wonderful marriage just by being kind.
So no matter what point in your marriage you are or what problems are going on, I challenge you to the One Week Marriage Improvement Challenge. Whether you are on the brink of divorce or whether you have an enjoyable marriage already, I challenge you to be extra kind for one week.
Will you fully commit to the challenge? Can you thank your spouse for something specific each day? Can you give an authentic compliment to your spouse each day? What other ways can you show kindness during the challenge? Let’s find out.
Feel free to leave comments about how your one week challenge went. Was it easy? Was it hard? Did it make a difference?
If you are looking for additional resources to help your marriage, I recommend this book by Dr. Laura. It has quality advice aimed at women who want to improve the way they treat their husband.
Thanks for dropping by! Keep it real!
-Julie at mommamoneysense.com
(Disclaimer: The above information is not intended to be professional advice. Also, there may be affiliate links in this post.)