This article was originally published on effinghamherald.net. It has been republished here, with permission.
There is no set of bullet points, no numbered list that will help you have a happier marriage. The best advice is remarkably obvious — and yet, it is a constant struggle to follow.
Lies drown marriages
Be honest. Honesty is the key that turns the lock, opening the door to a healthy, sustainable marriage. Little white lies can be an exception. (The answer to the age-old question, "Honey, does this make me look fat?" should always be answered, "No, dear," regardless of what the truth may be). When it comes to anything of consequence, however, never lie — even if you think hiding the truth will spare your spouse's feelings.
This isn't easy to do. Maybe you've accumulated some credit card debt that your partner doesn't yet know about. Maybe you're developing a little crush for someone at the office. While issues like these are vastly difficult to talk about, it's always better to bring them up with your spouse as soon as they present themselves rather than letting the issues fester and worsen.
Your spouse is no mind reader
Never fall victim to the unrealistic expectation that your partner guess what you're thinking. Soul mate is just a term — a nice concept, sure. But never forget that your partner is entirely human. Don't get mad when your spouse is unable to discern what you're thinking using instinct alone.
Communicate! If you want to know what your partner is thinking, ask! If you want your partner to know how you feel, share your feelings! Your marriage is not a carnival sideshow, and your spouse is no mind reader.
It may seem a little awkward at first, but once you start communicating with genuine effort, you'll wonder how your relationship ever survived without doing so.
You win some, you lose some
According to some, a happy marriage is one that compromises; however, according to others, a great marriage means standing firmly for what you believe is right.
For the vast majority of couples, compromising means saying, "I want X and you want Y. But because I love you and Y is important to you, let's do Y this time." This form of compromise doesn't mean getting taken for granted or being steamrolled by your spouse. Contrary to what it sometimes feels like, compromise does not mean never getting what you want. Quite the opposite, actually.
It's about give and take. Any relationship that is completely one-sided — all about giving, giving, giving or taking, taking, taking — will have big issues.
Let's face it. No two marriages are exactly alike, and while these three points will help the vast majority of couples be happier and closer, it's important for you to test what does and doesn't work in your own relationship. And once you know what works, stick with it! Be consistent. Don't quit. A truly happy marriage is one that you work on each and every day.