“I love being married. It’s great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.”- Rita Rudner

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” -Mignon McLaughlin

Marriage is an important and life-changing choice; to be committed to one person. The person who you want to go through life with you. To be your teammate, your partner, your confidante. The person whom you can feel you can trust with your fragile heart.

The only problem is: They aren’t perfect and neither of you. And yet, we can be so harsh and judgemental. Why is that?

Is it because we expect perfection? Is it because we think we are better than they are? Is it because of what our culture or society tells us what we should and shouldn’t put up with?

We will even go as far as to accuse our partner of not caring, not loving us, or of being selfish, when deep down we know that isn’t true. We often punish our partners for something that triggered a childhood memory or trauma and they end up paying the price. Meanwhile, our partner has no idea what just happened. For some, it shows up as yelling, anger, and tears. For others, it’s the complete opposite – an absolute emotional shutdown.

But how do you make a happy marriage last? Here are just a few tips:

1. Always come from a place of love. When you are speaking to your partner, are you coming from a place of partnership and love, or from being righteous and dominating? As the saying goes, “You can be right or you can be happy.”

2. Love is a verb. Love is in actions more than it is in words. This leads me to #3….

3. Know your partner’s love language. If you’re not sure what theirs is, listen. They will tell (complain) you.

4. Show loyalty and commitment regularly. This will help strengthen your bond.

5. Be patient and forgive often. Holding grudges and keeping score of wrongdoings will only lead to one place which is where you do NOT want to go.

6. Always be honest. Oftentimes, we may lie to conceal our stupidity, but in the end, it actually does more damage if they find out the truth (and they often do). Own your mistakes. Ask for forgiveness and don’t do it again. That’s it!

7. Communication, communication, communication! You might think, “I’m a great communicator!” but 90% of people have been to talk more than to listen. As the saying goes, “God gave us 1 mouth and 2 ears.” Don’t interrupt your partner when they are speaking. Learn to listen with empathy, which is an important skill that you can learn.

Marriage doesn’t have to be hard. If you truly love your partner, and want to be happy, you will always know what to do in every situation. It’s when the ego is involved that things can go south really fast. Remember, the ego is to keep us safe and protect us, however, it also makes us feel separate and alone. If you find yourself feeling like you are surviving a conversation or your relationship, stop and check in with yourself. Oftentimes, it’s all in our head, and it’s actually not real. Learning how to emotional self-regulate and gain perspective will get you farther along and you will learn not to sweat the small stuff.