What’s the Key to a Happy Marriage?

Gillian Sisley

I’m hearing a lot of different messages, and I’m curious what’s the best advice of all?

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Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

T-minus two months and counting.

The big day is just around the corner.

In the depths of marriage prep, my partner and I are spending a lot of time having the necessary conversations and making sure we’re on the same page as we continue into this next massive chapter of our lives.

Marriage isn’t just another milestone for us, like buying a house or adopting a rescue.

Marriage for us is a life-long commitment which we take extremely seriously. We are vowing ourselves and our lives to one another, through better or for worse.

That kind of decision cannot be made flippantly. And for that very reason, we're committed to doing our research to ensure the highest likelihood of survival for our relationship. We love science, stats, and personal growth books on relationships and such.

But we've also started asking around to the married couples in our lives,

"What's the key to a happy marriage?"

The answers we've received are varied, but here are a few of our favourite answers so far (whether we take them seriously or not is another story entirely...)

Have separate bathrooms.

The key to a happy marriage is... not sharing the same toilet?

This bit of advice made me laugh at first, but I suppose there’s valid reasoning for it. We heard from quite a few people too, so I think it's worth dissecting this one to get a bit of a sense of why, as a more practical form of advice, might have more going for it than we give it credit for.

Particularly if there are two people who need to get ready at the same time in the morning, and there’s only one sink in the bathroom, I can see how this could make a big difference. And if one party needs to partake in less savoury bathroom activities, well it's never fun to walk into that smell.

I guess less sharing of a bathroom means less arguments? Less flushing the toilet and turning the shower water cold? Less bumping into each other? And perhaps more romance because of it? I'm not sure.

Surely, with something as complex and powerful as marriage, separate pooping rooms can’t be the key to a happy marriage.

Right?

Never go to sleep angry.

This is age-old advice that I’ve heard from many grandparents and older couples.

Sure, it’s important to resolve issues and not let things marinate for too long. I'm not about to argue with that, but there's something about this advice that has never sat well with me.

Absolutely, communication is important. I am a communications practitioner, so this stuff is my bread and butter.

But at the same time, is this really the do or die of matrimony?

Depending on the argument, depending on the issue, not everyone is ready to take about things right away.

Some people need time to process before they can resolve conflict — it’s important to be respectful of those needs.

Forcing someone to resolve conflict when they’re not ready can’t truly be a valid thing to always keep a marriage healthy. And especially trying to force someone to follow your preferred method of conflict resolution without considering their preferred form won't be of help to anyone. If anything, that could cause a building up of resentment.

The fact of the matter is that everyone is different.

Keep your man satisfied, or else he’ll go looking elsewhere.

I loathe this advice.

I loathe everything about it.

For one thing, it begins with an expectation that whenever a man wants sex, it is a wife’s job to deliver the goods.

If the woman doesn’t give her man sex, she’s failing as a partner.

First of all, consent still exists in committed relationships. Even in marriage.

So if I don’t want to have sex with my partner, I won’t. Because I still have the right to choose if I want to have sex or not.

And quite frankly, if I was worried that my partner was planning to low-key f*ck another woman if we don’t have sex for a bit, then I wouldn’t be marrying him. Period.

Any partner who doesn’t believe is respecting consent and even considers cheating is not the partner for me.

I deserve far more than that.

Go on frequent vacations.

Wouldn’t that be nice, though. Especially in the peculair times we live in, where travel isn't really possible. If this advice truly were the key, that would mean everyone in the world would be divorced right now. And that's not the case.

I wish I could afford, even now, to go on frequent vacations! Or even have access to such luxuries, but we're iin the middle of a damn pandemic!

But what about when we have kids? When we have even less money than we do now? How are we going to be able to go anywhere to travel frequently?

Our pastor, who is going through marriage prep with us did recommend that once a year we get away to a B&B to reconnect and touch base again regarding our marriage. Especially when we have children.

That makes total sense to me — I’d love to do that and make it an annual habit.

But that's less of a vacation, and more so personal development.

I don’t think that’s the same thing.

Final word.

Is there some golden advice I’m missing?

Better yet, what’s some of the worst marriage advice you’ve ever heard?

In my mind, as long as we’re communicating, supporting each other and willing to be flexible with the changes of life, then I think we’re starting on a good foot.

Looking at the last 3 years, and looking at the healthy habits we’ve developed in our relationship, I believe we’re going to be okay.

At least, that’s the hope!

Regardless, we’re going into the marriage willing to do whatever it takes to make it work.

Because at the end of the day, we’re on each other’s team.

Till the very end.

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