What Happily Married People Know

When I was unhappy in my marriage, I thought that the difference between the happily married and the unhappily married was this: happily married people had better spouses. While there might be some truth to that, I now know that the difference has a lot more to do with how happily married people think. They see the world differently.

Happily married people know:

  1. That it’s easier, faster and more efficient to directly ask for what they want than it is to hint about it.
  2. How to express their sadness, disappointment or frustration in words. They try not to express it with random acts of sabotage such as withholding sex, not taping their spouse’s favorite TV show or something else.
  3. How to accept defeat. They know that they will sometimes get what they want and they sometimes won’t. When they don’t get what they want, they say “Oh well, it was worth trying” and they move on.
  4. Not to ignore problems. If their sex life becomes boring or their conversations go stale, they do something about it.
  5. To fight only with each other and not attempt to get loved ones (children, extended family, friends) to take sides.
  6. That fights are inevitable, especially when one of them is grumpy. They also know that reconciliation is inevitable, too.
  7. That it’s easier and more gratifying to say “I’m sorry” than it is to defend their actions.
  8. To face the world as a united front.
  9. That marriage is like a garden. It requires tending. Without watering and weeding the marital garden regularly, the fruits of happiness do not grow.
  10. They won’t always agree, and they are okay with that.
  11. To regularly champion one another. They compliment each other regularly.
  12. That keeping score is what unhappily married people do.
  13. Their spouse’s opinions, desires, and dreams are important, even if they don’t necessarily share them.
  14. It’s just as important to hear as it is to be heard.
  15. That marriage is a journey.

What else do you think happily married people know? What do you think unhappily married people know? Or do you think that happily married people really did just marry better spouses?

One person who comments on today’s post will win a CD full of music from KUT 90.5 public radio station in Austin Texas. Bunky won the novel Second Nature, the giveaway from two posts ago. And Lisa won the November Reader of the Month. The new prize is a $50 restaurant gift card. I will be picking two readers of the month in December. All you have to do to be eligible to win is comment enough to get your name in the Reader of the Month widget to the right. To leave a comment, make sure to click through to ProjectHappilyEverAfter.com.

PLEASE vote for ProjectHappilyEverAfter.com as Best Marriage Blog.


21 comments… add one

  • sabrina December 1, 2011, 10:51 am

    Its hard to know to do all of those things, but still cant manage to do them. I am guessing those happily married couples dont have serious complications in their relationships that allows them to follow the steps listed above. I need some steps for those in relationships that have serious complications to still be happy and work past and forget the past.
    sabrina´s last blog post ..No Idea what I am thinking

    • Alisa December 1, 2011, 11:45 am

      Hi Sabrina–

      Do you struggle with certain ones more than others? I’m asking because I’ve been feeling a bit stale and out of ideas lately. If you tell me which ones challenge you, it will help inspire me to write posts about them. Thanks!

  • Adam December 1, 2011, 11:41 am

    I just wanted to echo how much I agree with #8 above.

    I feel that my wife and I really are a team. We win together and we lose together and despite our disagreements we always manage to find a compromise that allows both of us to forge ahead as one.
    Adam´s last blog post ..Dating During the Holiday Season

  • Lisa December 1, 2011, 12:27 pm

    Yes it is hard to do all of those things, but I think with time you learn what works and what doesnt work. I have been in my relationship for 23 yrs. It started when I was 17 so we finished our teens together, then 20′s those were rough years, 30′s started to get better and now 40′s well It didnt start so well, but I am sure that if it was always great we wouldnt be able to learn from our mistakes. They are all great suggestions for the happily married. My biggest struggle is Number 1. It is just my personality, I cant speak my mind, seems like only to my husband. Out in the world I am a right fighter, at home nothing, I dont even like to fight, I will just walk away and cry. My husband is not violent and believe me he wants to know what I have to say, but I just cant do.
    I am so excited to win for November!!!Thank You Alisa!!!

  • Kim December 1, 2011, 1:07 pm

    I’ve printed this out and will keep it close. Item #2 resonates the most with me – I have a history of being really passive aggressive. But now, I’m making a conscious effort to communicate clearly and directly exactly how I’m feeling. It’s not always pretty, and it’s not always easy, but it’s SO worth it!

  • Lori December 1, 2011, 3:23 pm

    I was unhappily married for 23 years and have been very happily married the past 8 years. My secret ~ accept him the way he is, learn what pleases him, stop manipulating and trying to control him, respect him, decide to be happy and don’t let my emotions control me, make him happy and not holy! It works! He adores me now and having a happy marriage is so fun!

  • Sarah Liz December 1, 2011, 5:38 pm

    Numbers 10, 13, 14 & 15 are absolutely brilliant! I agree with the rest, I just agree with those ones the most! Being able to agree to disagree, and respect each other’s space, is key in any relationship, especially in marriage. It’s kind of where I failed in mine, to be honest. Marriage is a journey, completely!

    This is such a great and truthful post, thanks for sharing!

    Many Blessings,
    -Sarah Liz :)

  • Sarah Liz December 1, 2011, 5:44 pm

    I think the most happily married people know that although they and their spouse are a team, they are also two individuals with a life, interests and loves outside of their marriage. They maintain that sense of identity and use that “outer life” to enhance their married life. I think happily married people understand that concept big time!

    I think unhappily married people think their spouse is their end all and be all and depend on their spouse to fulfill their every need, social interaction and let the spouse dictate whether their day is good or bad, happy or sad.

    It’s great to be a team, and you have to be when you’re married, it’s one of the biggest blessings of marriage. At times, I miss that part of it. But, sincerely, the happiest married couples I know are happy with themselves and their marriage adds to that overall happiness (most days).

    I was thinking the other day I actually know (for sure) of five happily married couples, and that is miraculous to me! I so admire people who work at their marriage.

    Many Blessings,
    -Sarah Liz :)

  • Sarah Liz December 1, 2011, 5:44 pm

    *And by loves, obviously, I mean, children-love, parental-love, friendship-love, career-love, etc.

  • Jason Anthony December 1, 2011, 6:03 pm

    I think happily married people know that their marriage is not always going to be happy. They stand together to embrace the good and the bad, the dark and the light. They have a let’s do this together for us mentality where 1+1= 4 or more.

    I think that unhappily married people think that all the negative in their marriage is a result of their spouse. They focus on people, not problems.
    Jason Anthony´s last blog post ..Silent Workout Killers

  • Sarah J December 1, 2011, 7:48 pm

    Found your blog through the marriage top 10 blogs. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  • Marissa December 1, 2011, 10:56 pm

    I think happily married people had a common goal in life before getting married. I think unhappily married people thought that they could change their partners. I also think that happily married people realize that loving relationships are multifaceted and are not always about one thing, like sex, all the time but are about quality time, personal space, respect, and togetherness.

  • Bunky December 2, 2011, 1:40 pm

    #2 really hits it for me. I feel like I do this…not that I want too, but I always have. I want to make an effort to not behave like this and start finding the GOOD things in my husband again. I focus on the negative….and I feel like kids really do throw a wrench in things. I love my kids more than anything, but my kids and money are the most stress we have!!!

  • 365 Acts of Love December 2, 2011, 5:40 pm

    I think both partners in a happy marriage know that focusing on one’s own interests rather than the interests of one’s spouse is bad for a marriage. In other words, they know that selfless love is necessary for a happy marriage. In fact, this is necessary but not sufficient because both partners also need to _practice_ selfless love.

    Congratulations, Alisa, on being nominated for the top-marriage-blogs contest.

  • Sunshine December 4, 2011, 7:56 am

    After reading the list I noticed that my husband and I do all of these things without even thinking about it. We have been married for little over 6 years and we have had our trails and hard times but we never had a fight in the way people think with yelling or anything. I think it all comes down to communication. Be willing to talk things out that is what happily Married People know. The saying that Marriage is 50 50 is wrong it is 100 100 each person has to give 100% in making marriage work and be happy. But I have to say I think I have a better spouse because he is Perfect for me. He compliments my weaknesses to help them become strengths and I his. I think we are what people call the perfect couple.

  • Chloe December 4, 2011, 2:27 pm

    Being a United Front is huge. So many women (myself included) bond with other women by being critical of their spouse. I have to work really hard not to participate in this, but I’ve found that making the conscious decision not to criticize my husband in front of others–including my mom and sisters-in-law–has made a giant difference in my marriage.

    I’d add #16) Therapy is not just for crazy people!

    Just having an objective person to talk to can make a big difference in how you participate in your relationships. I’ve had seasons of seeing a counselor and she really helped me to let go of my passive-aggressiveness and find healthy ways to express my needs to my husband!

  • Alisa December 5, 2011, 4:39 pm

    Sunshine– you won the CD. I’ll be in touch to find out where to mail it!

  • Dike November 5, 2012, 1:27 pm

    Its hard as I m writting ,I think I m happily married,I haven’t spoken to husband passed two days..and now I feel unhappily married…ive been out of the country for +2weeks,I miss him..I’ve send massages ,he hasn’t answered,this is not the first time it happens the same way,and when I express it,it promises to change…but it never does…this ,out of all wrong and right things that happens in this relationship doesn’t look like I can handle it.i have tried,I can’t talk about it anymore ,it just overpowers my energies when it happens,I tried revenging,just to give him a taste,it was satisfying ,and we didn’t talk about it,not sure why..but it worked for that moment cause he asked about it,but I was spiteful,I pretended it doesn’t exist.and here m I again.
    After reading the things that married people know ,I actually smsed him enquiring why he hasn’t called,then he called and gave me more a withdrawn excuse,like,24hrs ago his charger was out of reach,12hrs ago he was busy ,I could ague that but want to cry from the depth of my soul and the heat of anger in my head is blocking the tears,this is big for me right now,and I can’t talk about it over the phone…I m just glad you are all hear to receive my Now emotions,because when I meet him ,it won’t be the same.

    Thank you all.hope to make contact next days when I m happier.because I will be.

  • Don Traphagan January 15, 2013, 5:07 am

    I believe it is very important to understand how the opposite sex think and to make a perfect couple is for two people to think as one.

  • Don Traphagan January 15, 2013, 5:19 am

    if it is all positive. The good the bad and the ugly. understanding that nobody is perfect can make a perfect couple


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