Many people are of the opinion that it's practically impossible to be really happy in a marriage. Though unfortunately, this may be true for many marriages, it actually needn't be that way. You can hope to live a happy married life by following these few basic tips.
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I'd like to ask you a question? Those who are married, are you happy with your marriage and spouse? Those who are not yet married but intend to, what's your expectation of happiness from marriage? Please answer in the Comments below.
Remember, when I say happiness, I don't mean the absence of suffering, pain and hurt. So when you answer, keep in mind life in reality, not Utopia.
Marriage and relationship experts give a lot of advice on how to have a happy marriage. You will find a lot of good advice from them but here you'll find tips that are inline with faith.
These tips are what Sonia and I learned in 18 years of our marriage. We ourselves practice them to the best of our ability. So here they are.
1. For a happy marriage: Both spouses must have the same enthusiasm and fire for their faith
Let's take an example where both spouses are of the same religion (e.g. both are Christians). One prefers to stay away from any extra faith-related activities, other than the weekly obligations, while the other is passionate and involved in many faith-based activities. There is an imbalance.
There will be a simmering uneasiness between the spouses because of this difference, though it may not cause major problems. Couples eventually learn to adapt and each spouse ends up doing their own thing. On the contrary, how wonderful is the joy when both are of one mind on this subject.
2. For a happy married life: Both spouses must have the same priorities regarding raising a family versus a career
Gone are the days when all chores were clearly segregated as male or female chores. Nowadays men cook and clean, women are breadwinners and both equally have a say in most matters, in most urban, nuclear families.
In such a setting both can have independent and divergent ambitions or priorities in life. One spouse may want kids immediately while the other may have a career as a priority. One may want to reach out to others in their society/community while the other may only be interested in their own kids and themselves.
These differences can cause nagging tensions between spouses. Happy are those couples that have the same priorities.
3. For a happy marriage: spouses must trust each other in financial matters and be equally involved in managing family budgets
This point cannot be stressed enough. It's so important because lack of trust between spouses in financial matters can wreck marriages. I think a good starting point would be to consider any income as “family income”, not “my money” or “her money” or “his money”. But “our money”.
No money should be spent behind the other spouse's back. And both must be involved as a team in setting, sticking and managing a family budget.
4. For a happy marriage: Try to have at least one common hobby or passion
For Sonia and me, it's gardening. We have spent hours together in the garden, of course, gardening, but more than that, those times were opportunities for us to bond further, pray together, discuss family matters and sometimes even fight. In these busy times, it's important that spouses find time for each other. Otherwise, it's so easy to drift apart, even though they remain “happily married”. Read about the other benefits of hobbies.
5. For a happy marriage: spouses must really understand that marriage is not limited to 2 but involves 3
I've written in detail about Jesus as the third and most important person in a marriage. Though this point is down this list at 5th position, it's the most important.
6. For a happy marriage: spouses must accept that there is baggage in marriage - each others family
I'm not using the word baggage in a negative way but just to highlight that marriage will bring upon your shoulders the extra weight of added relationships. The smoother the relationship with your spouses family, the lesser the chances of conflict with your spouse. The plain fact, no rocket science here. I think it is safe to say that the most unhappy phases in a marriage can be when these extended family relationships break down.
7. For a happy marriage: at least give a thought to the Church's teaching on sexuality, physical relationship, and natural family planning
At a normal level, we can never make the connection between happiness and the Church's teaching on sexual relationships within marriage. But if you embrace Point (5) above, you’ll be amazed at the revelation. Some Church teachings in the area of sexuality can be so unpopular and difficult, yet they are also important factors in a happy married life.
A lot is known about Natural Family Planning but little is spoken about the sin of mutual masturbation. If you combine both the above, i.e. NFP (if you choose family planning) plus avoidance of the sin of mutual masturbation, spouses will be in tremendous and passionate love with each other over the whole cycle.
No marriage can have only happy moments but it can be a happy one if there are overwhelmingly happy moments than sad ones. Seeking happiness in marriage through the eyes of faith is a refreshing shift from the popular tips we get from the secular world. Unless spouses are married to each other like the rails of a railway track, it is difficult to be really happy in today's modern world.
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