5 Tips for a Happy Marriage

At these times, remember that the love in your relationship is
 often unspoken.  When he comes home with four gallons of ice cream, 
it’s his way of saying, “Baby, I think those extra 20 pounds are
 super sexy – don’t you change a thing.”  When he plops down on 
the couch and unceremoniously changes the channel from HGTV to ESPN,
 he’s saying, “Honey, you don’t need these decorating tips – the
 house looks great!”  And when she subsequently cuts him the side
eyes and leaves the room in an apparent huff, what she’s really 
thinking is, “That’s okay, dearest, I’ll use this bit of free 
time to eat some ice cream. And then I’ll help you combine your 
passions for athletics and recycled mulch by tossing all your sports
 equipment in the chipper shredder.”

If you look for it, the love is there.

4. Say Thank You

Also, look for reasons to be grateful for your spouse, and make
 sure to let them know they’re appreciated.  This makes them feel good, 
and inspires them to do more of the things you appreciate, which
 creates a self-perpetuating cycle of positive vibes.

If your spouse isn’t doing anything particularly noteworthy, you 
might have to dig for things to be grateful for at first.  Try these
words of praise to get started:

Thanks a lot for mouth-breathing
 less than usual.
It’s impressive how high you can
 get the trash to pile up without toppling before you take it
Your efforts to get your filthy
 clothes within a five-foot radius of the hamper make doing your
 laundry a real treat.
  • I appreciate how you only belched audibly twice while we were
 out to dinner with my parents.

With encouragement like this, it won’t take your spouse long to
 get an idea of how much you cherish his or her contribution to the

5. Hygiene

Sadly, it’s common for people to let themselves go after the 
wedding vows are wrapped up, especially once children enter the
equation.  I urge you to avoid this if at all possible – being married 
doesn’t give you a free pass to become utterly repulsive.  Refrain
from clipping your toenails on the couch.  Take the time to spritz on 
some body spray when you hit day four of being too exhausted to take 
a shower.  Shaving is a nice touch – try not to leave the entire 
bathroom peppered with your stubble.  The extra effort will go a long 
way toward keeping the spark in your marriage alive, or should at
 least reduce your spouse’s urge to smother you in your sleep.

If you can manage to keep all five of these tips in mind, or at 
least one or two of them if you’re on an long car trip with the 
children or you’re working on a home improvement project together
 (nobody expects you to be a saint), you have an excellent chance* of 
still liking each other by the time the kids move out and you
 eventually get to spend time as a couple again.

*Actual results may vary. Please be advised that I have no idea
 what I’m talking about.

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27 comments on this post.

    Tomorrow is my 10 year anniversary. This is marriage number 3 for me. I’ve never gone more than 7. Nor has any member of my family unless you count my sister who says she’s gay and yet denies she and her lover have sex – so, I don’t count them.

    I don’t know how I got here but I’m glad I did. I too strive to make uncomfortable situations funny. sometimes I succeed, other times I’m the only one laughing at myself (which beats tears).

    My man of 10 years is excellent at gestures but sadly, he lacks communication skills. I’ve tried, believe me, I’ve tried. We did therapy. I even gave him a list of things to say and when to say them. I hate it when he has to look for his glasses, then find the list, then pick something to say.

    So… I now have a mr. communication lover. He’s tall, handsome, 15 years younger and gay. He tells me everything he’s thinking. He reads everything I write. He praises my words, my brilliance, my god given talent and this fills the void of my super patient, non-communicative, faithful husband. Year 10, here I come!

  2. hollow tree ventures:

    How clever of you to find a set-up that works for you guys! No one is perfect, but maybe TWO someones combined are perfect, eh? 10 years is a big deal, so you’re obviously doing something (or, I’m sure, a lot of somethings) right – congrats!
    hollow tree ventures recently posted..Invitation From A Naked Girl In A DressMy Profile

  3. hollow tree ventures:

    Thank you so much for having me here today, Kelly! I hope your readers enjoy the post – if not, please delete the contact info at the top and let us never speak of it again.
    hollow tree ventures recently posted..Invitation From A Naked Girl In A DressMy Profile

  4. Amanda@Werdyab:

    They will love it! Great post!

  5. hollow tree ventures:

    Thanks! :D
    hollow tree ventures recently posted..Invitation From A Naked Girl In A DressMy Profile

  6. Sue - The Spin Cycle:

    First, I love that the two of you are hanging out over here together. Sort of a yin & yang vibe you’ve got going on.

    Secondly, I got all hung up on Tip #2. You see, my groom has no social media accounts whatsoever. How in the sam hill are we supposed to communicate effectively? *hangs head in defeat*
    Sue – The Spin Cycle recently posted..Mommy Mixology – Review and GiveawayMy Profile

  7. hollow tree ventures:

    Don’t worry, Sue – even if you’re both all over the social media, it doesn’t always help. Once I was stranded upstairs under a sleeping baby without my phone, so I got on facebook on the computer to tell my husband I was thirsty in a status update. He’s always on fb and it was the only (quiet) way to ask him to bring me a drink, yet he CLAIMS he never saw it. I could have DIED! Okay, not really, but still – thanks for nothin’, facebook.
    hollow tree ventures recently posted..Invitation From A Naked Girl In A DressMy Profile

  8. just keep swimming:

    If my husband ever brought home a pint of Ben & Jerry’s for me then I could be sure of his love. Could you e-mail him for me? He doesn’t text, even if he is sitting on the couch right next to me.
    just keep swimming recently posted..There’s No Time For Pants! is Swimming With the TelephoneMy Profile

  9. hollow tree ventures:

    I’ll give him the hint – or maybe you could pass him a note while you’re sitting together on the couch. That’s like an old timey text. ;)
    hollow tree ventures recently posted..Invitation From A Naked Girl In A DressMy Profile

  10. susan:

    the lack of social media compatibility is an increasing issue in my marriage. my husband actually used the phone other day to *actually* talk to me – sound came out of my phone y’all. after i recovered from the shock, i actually SPOKE to him in response.

    him: how was your day?
    me: didn’t you see all my twitter updates? the kids were crazy. can you believe that whole “steak stick” thing?
    him: i don’t tweet.
    me: silence
    him: fill me in later. what’s for dinner.
    me: so you didn’t see the photo i instagramed AND crossposted to Facebook?
    him: i’ll be home in 30 minutes to eat whatever it is i didn’t see.

    see what i mean?
    susan recently posted..Scoring Some Back To School TraditionsMy Profile

  11. hollow tree ventures:

    Hahahaha! I love that conversation! It makes me want to quiz my husband to see if he’s reading my tweets. :)
    hollow tree ventures recently posted..Invitation From A Naked Girl In A DressMy Profile

  12. The Husband:

    You always said you loved my mouth-breathing. I’m starting to think maybe that was facetious.

    I love this article/post, Baby. One complaint: I had to click an extra link to get here. WTH!?

  13. hollow tree ventures:

    Of course I love your mouth breathing, honey… ::coughs, giggles nervously:: Sorry about the extra click – glad to see you found your way over here without stopping to ask for directions.
    hollow tree ventures recently posted..Invitation From A Naked Girl In A DressMy Profile

  14. Lisa Arends:

    My marriage of ten years took no work. We were easily compatible in every way. It was too perfect. In fact, it was a mirage that was washed away in a tsunami divorce. My relationship now isn’t work, but it takes more attention. More effort. And it has its moments of frustration. I cherish those times and the reality they imply.
    Lisa Arends recently posted..The Accounting of LossMy Profile

  15. hollow tree ventures:

    That’s very well said. My first marriage wasn’t work either, partly because there was no conflict – which was indicative of a lack of communication, no doubt. Now I’m sure to get things out in the open and resolved right away, and like you, it feels good to be fully participating in the reality of the relationship – the good and bad alike.
    hollow tree ventures recently posted..Invitation From A Naked Girl In A DressMy Profile

  16. Tom What:

    This is seriously all true. Hygiene plays a vital role all the time. My wife would kill me if the toilet seat is not in it’s right place. LOL
    Tom What recently posted..What is EEO information?My Profile

  17. Christian at Point Counter-Point Point Point:

    I hear you on the body language tip. My wife often kicks me in the ribs while I’m sleeping. She says it’s because I’m snoring but I know it’s because she can’t keep her hands off of me. Or I guess in this case she can’t keep her feet off of me.
    Christian at Point Counter-Point Point Point recently posted..Are Those Magical Witch Doctors We Call Hypnotists Real?My Profile

  18. hollow tree ventures:

    Sounds like you have a rare condition known as Body Language Deafness. Ask your wife – I’m willing to bet she’d back me up on this one.
    hollow tree ventures recently posted..Invitation From A Naked Girl In A DressMy Profile

  19. @bluenotebacker:

    I’ve got 3, 4, and 5 nailed down. 1 and 2 not so much. I think that’s why I’m divorced and single! She wasn’t the right one, obviously, but I got a pretty cool kid out of the deal. Then I thought I found the right one, again, but she wasn’t it either. Funny how important that first thing is!
    @bluenotebacker recently posted..Saving (by Saving I mean Breaking) FaceMy Profile

  20. Naked Girl in a Dress:

    Without succeeding with #1, the rest is really irrelevant, isn’t it? I am stuck on #1 as well.

  21. hollow tree ventures:

    For sure, #1 is key. The trouble is that so many different people can wear that Right Person disguise for juuuust long enough to get us hooked. Maybe sometimes you don’t know until 50 years pass and you say, “Huh, looks like you were the right one after all.” I didn’t know my husband was the one until we’d already been friends for 10+ years – but once I fuigured it out, I was sure. :)
    hollow tree ventures recently posted..Invitation From A Naked Girl In A DressMy Profile

  22. Tracy:

    Yeah, I always get confused when people say marriage is work. I already have a job, and I’m not interested in working a second job without pay, so any marriage of mine better not be work or it’s not going to last long.

    I think the key is your number 1–marry the right person. I think a lot of people end up marrying the person who is willing to marry them. Happily, in my case, these two people were the same person.

    Since I started my blog, our communication often consists of me writing and then his reading. So much easier than walking to the room he’s in and talking to him.
    Tracy recently posted..National Ice Cream PolicyMy Profile

  23. hollow tree ventures:

    Too true – some people hit a certain age or stage of their life, and whoever they’re dating at the time becomes the spouse. Or, like you said, they marry whoever wants to marry *them* when the time comes – so glad to hear yours was the right one. :)

    And I agree – a spouse reading your blog covers a whole lot of communication ground!
    hollow tree ventures recently posted..Invitation From A Naked Girl In A DressMy Profile

  24. Lonesome Jackalope:

    Damn. Missed it on number one. Well, that about sums it up for me.

  25. Naked Girl in a Dress:

    Me too, Jack, me too. Seem to also not be able to get it right on the dating scene as well.

  26. hollow tree ventures:

    But if you can get that #1 right, it’s worth the wait…
    hollow tree ventures recently posted..Invitation From A Naked Girl In A DressMy Profile

  27. Brook L. Dame:

    Great post! It’s the simple stuff that slips first, and it’s the most difficult to re-establish. I agree; there’s a big difference between “working” at a relationship vs. “maintaining” it.
    Brook L. Dame recently posted..Your Move, America: Vietnam and a Gay Rights Decision to Shake the WorldMy Profile

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