7 Secrets to Marital Bliss (and Why They Work)
You’ve heard the same marriage advice over and over: “Don’t go to bed angry!” “Make your sex life a priority!” “Fight fair!” In fact, your parents and grandparents heard it too, back when they were newlyweds. So why are there certain secrets to a happy marriage that people swear by from generation to generation — and why do they actually work? Check out what the pros have to say:
The advice: Make your sex life a priority.What it means: If sex isn’t at the top of your list, it will never happen (and we’re guessing it’s not happening since you’re reading this). So move sex up a few notches -- like before that True Blood finale you DVRed, not after.
Why it works: “Sex reaffirms your bond,” explains Kimberly Dawn Neumann, a relationship coach and co-author of Sex Comes First: 15 Ways to Help Your Relationship -- Without Leaving Your Bedroom. "Even if you have to schedule it, a quality quickie will do the trick.”
The advice: Fight fair.What it means: Put an end to name-calling and personal attacks (“You always do X!”). It takes work, especially if you’re used to fighting dirty, but the pay-off is worth it.
Why it works: “You’re taking aim at the problem, not each other,” says Laurie Puhn, mediator and author of Fight Less, Love More, which makes it easier to work together to find a solution.
The advice: Never go to bed angry.What it means: Nobody expects you to be up until 4 a.m. solving an argument -- but you should at least agree on a time when you can both sit down and work through an issue, Puhn notes.
Why it works: There’s less time for anger and resentment to build up, she explains. And by getting into the habit of talking through arguments when you’re both feeling calm, you’re building up your problem-solving skills (which are essential to every happy marriage).
The advice: Agree on how to manage your money -- and stick with your plan.What it means: Don’t avoid the money issue -- discuss it! Decide whether you want to create a joint account, maintain separate accounts, or have both separate and joint accounts. Map out what you need to devote to bills and other household expenses, as well as how the rest of your income will be spent.
Why it works: By having a clear financial plan that you’re both comfortable with, you’re eliminating a source of conflict that can unravel even rock-solid marriages. You’re also preparing for the future by creating a way to meet your financial goals, like buying a home, says economist Brett Graff.
The advice: Start a family when -- and only if -- you and your partner want to.What it means: Tune out your parents (and everyone else) who has an opinion on this one, Gould says. Having children will change your lives completely, and it’s a decision that only you and your partner can make.
Why it works: By focusing on what’s best for you, you’re helping to ensure that you and your partner are making a decision that you’ll be happy with in the long run.
The advice: Never leave the house without giving each other a kiss.What it means: Show each other affection every day, no matter what.
Why it works: Coming up with a consistent time each day to demonstrate your love helps show that you don’t take each other for granted, Neuman says.
The advice: Always sleep in the same bed! vs. It’s okay to sleep separately.What it means: Sleep wherever (and however) you and your partner sleep best. If you sleep well together, share the same bed; if your sleeping styles are dramatically different, sleep apart (in fact, 23 percent of married couples sleep separately, according to the National Sleep Foundation).
Why it works: Being well-rested will help keep you happy and healthy -- both essentials for a blissful marriage. “It's fine for your sweet dreams to happen in different corners of your house,” Neumann adds. “Just be sure to make time to cuddle, talk and have sex.”
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