Lots of people will scare you by saying marriage is hard work. It’s not, or at least, it shouldn’t be. If it’s hard work, that’s probably because you or your partner is really selfish. Marriage is work, I won’t deny that, but it’s fun work. It’s the job you dream about at night, wake up happy to go to in the morning, and never want a vacation from. If you’re looking to have an easier marriage, follow these rules. They aren’t that hard and they’ll make you a better person.
1. Don’t be a jerk
This is very straightforward. Don’t be nasty for any reason. Nasty, rude, mean, obnoxious, there are a lot of words used to describe the behavior of a jerk, but the easy way to figure out if what you’re about to do is jerky, just ask yourself “would this make my spouse upset?” If the answer is “yes” then don’t do it.
If you steal someone else’s spotlight, you are a jerk. credit: people.com
If you still want to make that rude comment or stay out late because “nobody owns me” or do anything at all for the purpose of getting a rise out of your significant other, please read rule number two.
2. Don’t be selfish
Being selfish is more than just taking the last piece of cake, it’s not thinking about how your actions will affect anyone else. If you’re rationalizing to yourself that what your spouse doesn’t know won’t hurt them, you are probably doing something selfish. This has never been known to end well.
Just ask Mrs. Carlos Danger. credit: nydailynews.com
3. Be thoughtful
A study recently published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that men with attractive wives rate their marital happiness higher than men with unattractive wives. Women with attractive husbands did not rate their marital happiness any higher, but those attractive wives of the first set did rate their marital happiness higher too. Lucky for me and anyone else who isn’t 5’10″, you don’t have to be a supermodel to be happy in your relationship.
Who am I kidding? We all know this is me. credit: People.com
Just treat each other like you are (like your wife is a supermodel). You see, men who marry out of their league try harder to impress their women and, no surprises here, women like a man who tries.
4. Be giving and appreciative
Marriage is not a 50-50 division of labor or give and take, it’s give and receive. Or so my parents told me all the time when I was growing up. Giving is definitely work, but if you are both giving and you are both appreciative, it is enjoyable work. Basic human interactions will show you that people like being appreciated and that if you show appreciation to someone for doing something for you, they are more likely to do it again. So don’t take your spouse and everything they do for you for granted!
Thank you for not yawning in my face this time, honey. source: yourdogplus.com
Saying thank you for seemingly mundane things will make your spouse more likely to do extra nice things for you. You see–the receiving part of this equation isn’t work at all.
5. Respect each other
Back in December 2009, I was young and in love. My then-future-husband and I were 11 months into our relationship and 1 month shy of our engagement. At the time, there was a Modern Love column in the Style section of the NYTimes (great fun, you guys should always read this column) written by David Sarasohn. The article begins with “I HAVE been married forever.“ *Spoiler alert* Here’s how it ends:
“Being married to someone you respect for being somehow better than you keeps affection alive. That this impressive person chooses you year after year makes you more pleased with yourself, fueling the kind of mutual self-esteem that can get you through decades.”
I cried. Then I read it again, printed it out, and saved it in a binder. You see, I heard that all the time–respect each other, blah blah blah–and you will have a healthy marriage. But no one had said it this eloquently, this simply, and this wonderfully. You don’t respect each other the way you respect your parents (because I’m your mother, so you have to). You involuntarily respect each other because of how impressive you find each other. Which brings me back to the beginning here. Just be a good person. Use your time well. Be polite to strangers and kind to one another. Think about how what you’re going to say will make your significant other feel before you say it. Consider how what you’re doing will affect your significant other in the long term. Be thoughtful with your actions and careful with your words. It’s not that hard to have a happy relationship if you’re a good person, and who knows, you may even like it.
Dina Silverberg wrote this for Diamond Envy