A happy marriage is just like a healthy plant. If you give the plant water, sun and air, it blossoms. A marriage requires an equal amount of nurturing if it is to blossom. As much as it is hard to accept, a nice wedding and the good intentions you have to stay together forever are not enough to produce a successful, happy marriage. The excitement and joy that newly-wed couples often experience tend to wear off within the first year of marriage and so, if you want to celebrate your 50th anniversary with your partner one day, you both need to make a conscious decision to "water" your relationship. To reach such as stage is a wonderful thing. The thought of reaching our 50th anniversary means more to me now than ever before, because my mom and dad just recently celebrated their 50th anniversary. I am so happy for them, and even more determined now to do the same.
When I coach couples on the verge of divorce, I find that generally, each individual is not happy within himself or herself and so their attempts to make each other happy are futile, because being happy as an individual is the first step.
As I have written many times on this blog, in newsletters and said in workshops, for any relationship to be happy, first each party must learn how to be happy individually.
I recommend to all couples that come to me for coaching that they create and then share a list of 50 things that make each one of them happy. It is quite incredible to see just how surprised most of them are when they read their partner's list. Most times, many of the items on the list are simple, cheap and even free. Without fail, the reaction I always get is, "It is so easy to make my partner happy, if only I had known earlier…"
Life is much easier when you know the things that make you and your partner happy. Here is a list of 30 things husbands can do to make their wives happy and 30 things wives can do to make their husbands happy. Please remember, the list here is just a start. It is also a bit stereotypical, so feel free to swap items with your partner and do what works for you.
30 ways to keep her happy
- SMS her some love during the day.
- Help her fill in her 12-hugs-a-day tank with lots of hugs (and kisses).
- Cook dinner from time to time. Husbands who cook have happier marriages.
- Stay and help while cleaning up after meals. Many couples fight over cleaning up. If you do it together, it will take half the time, become part of your quality time and then leave more time for romance.
- Find a loving nickname for her.
- Say "I love you" when you meet and when you say good-bye.
- Mark special dates on your calendar. There are not that many dates to remember: mainly her birthday and your wedding anniversary. But if you really want to be a super husband, remember the date that you first became a couple.
- Take the kids out on your own from time to time to give her some space. It can be as simple as offering some time off on the weekend to allow her to sleep in a little bit longer, or as easy as organizing an evening out with the kids.
- When she is upset, listen to her but do not try to give advice (unless she asks for it).
- Tell her how much you love to touch and smell her.
- Invite her to a movie or a restaurant like you would have if you were dating.
- Write her love notes and put them in places where she would not expect to find them, like inside the laundry basket, on the mirror in the bathroom, inside her wallet or on the visor in her car.
- Shower the kids or read them a story. I have to say that having watched my husband doing these things for many years with our children makes me love him more and more everyday. It is such a simple, beautiful thing to see father and kids reading a story together, that it makes the entire family happy.
- Offer some technical help if she is struggling with remotes, computers or electrical wiring.
- Say something nice about her choice in clothes.
- Bring her flowers.
- Give her a massage.
- You are strong and manly. Take the garbage out.
- Bring home dinner from time to time as a surprise. Try not to do this if she has already prepared a dinner. It is always better to check first and make sure the dinner is not all ready yet.
- Tell her "I trust you to…" Any positive ending to this sentence works miracles in any relationship. Count how many times you say this phrase during your relationship and I am sure you will find it much easier to spend many happy years together.
- Give her a kiss for no reason. Kiss for the love of kissing. Kiss in the morning and remember to always, always, always kiss at night before you fall asleep, even (especially) if you have just had a fight.
- Stay cool when she is having a long phone conversation with her girlfriend, mom or sister. These phone calls are a way for her to work things out and get emotional support. They are good for you…
- Bring home a sexy movie from the video shop to watch together.
- Learn how to use the washing machine and use it without being asked.
- Go shopping with her if she asks you to. Consider this quality time. You can do the grocery shopping while you talk together about your plans and dreams.
- Clean the toilet from time to time.
- Bring her small gifts.
- Hold her hand even when there are people around. It is a public display of affection and this is important to her.
- Initiate weekends away.
- Keep a photo of her in your wallet.
30 ways to keep him happy
- Give him some time to watch his favorite TV show (OK, shows).
- Invite his friends over for a BBQ.
- Tell him how much you love the way he touches you.
- Have dinner ready when he comes home from work. Add candles even if there are kids sitting at the table. It is good for them to watch mom and dad expressing their love.
- Call him during the day and whisper loving things into the phone.
- Offer him his favorite drink.
- Tell him how much you love him. Say "I love you" when you meet and when you say good-bye, even on the phone.
- Ask him about his day and listen.
- When you go shopping, ask him if he wants you to get him something.
- Do not tell him he is a baby when he is sick and has "man cold" (the kind of cold that, if you were to have, would make you feel a bit off, but could easily kill him…). Grown men need attention and being sick is their way of getting it when nothing else seems to work.
- Tell him he is right sometimes.
- Buy yourself a sexy outfit. It will make your husband very happy. You are actually buying it as a present for him, as he is the one who will ultimately take it off.
- Give him a massage.
- Tell him he smells good.
- Make him his favorite dish and remember to tell him that you chose the dish especially for him.
- Wash his car as a surprise (or get the kids to do it for a double bonus).
- If he is busy and has to miss a TV show that he likes, record it for him.
- Tell him how much you appreciate his efforts to come home early, to spend time with the kids, to help, etc.
- Ask him, "Is there anything I can do to help?"
- Go shopping with him if he wants you to.
- Get him his favorite after-shave before his old bottle runs out.
- Suggest from time to time that he go out with his friends.
- Keep his photo in your wallet.
- Make a genuine effort to get along with his mom.
- Put his trophies in a prominent place and proudly show them to visitors.
- Send him loving, suggestive emails.
- Tell him he is the best dad to your kids, more than you could ever ask for.
- Touch him from time to time. When he is busy, just walk up to him and run your fingers through his hair.
- Prepare his lunch box for the day.
As you can see, there are probably as many items that can be added to these lists as there are couples in the world. Each one of us has different desires and expectations of a relationship. It is easier to obtain your desired life if the other party also helps work to make the marriage a happy one. The longer the list of things you have that you can do to make your partner happy, the longer your marriage will be. These lists are just the beginning. Make your own lists and start making your marriage a happy and fulfilling one.
Lots of love,