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:
- That it’s easier, faster and more efficient to directly ask for what they want than it is to hint about it.
- 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.
- 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.
- Not to ignore problems. If their sex life becomes boring or their conversations go stale, they do something about it.
- To fight only with each other and not attempt to get loved ones (children, extended family, friends) to take sides.
- That fights are inevitable, especially when one of them is grumpy. They also know that reconciliation is inevitable, too.
- That it’s easier and more gratifying to say “I’m sorry” than it is to defend their actions.
- To face the world as a united front.
- That marriage is like a garden. It requires tending. Without watering and weeding the marital garden regularly, the fruits of happiness do not grow.
- They won’t always agree, and they are okay with that.
- To regularly champion one another. They compliment each other regularly.
- That keeping score is what unhappily married people do.
- Their spouse’s opinions, desires, and dreams are important, even if they don’t necessarily share them.
- It’s just as important to hear as it is to be heard.
- 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?
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A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.