When I envision my successful life, I will typically take my mind to a special event that will take place when I am nearly 75 years old. On May 17, 2047, I will walk into a banquet hall with a few hundred of my closest friends and family and celebrate my 50th anniversary.
There are many pieces to that dream. But that singular event is the focus. If I want that dream to come true, I must stay married to this woman that I made promises to love – for better or for worse. To love her for sicker or poorer until death do us part.
Mind you, I made that promise in front of several people who heard me say those sorts of words. Despite all of those promises, many never make it to 50 years. Since I intend to make this come true, I routinely talk to couples that have been married for decades and have sought their advice.
Below is a summary of 10 ways to be a happy couple that can endure the ups and downs of life.
What a Happy Couple Does Differently
1) Have Fun Together
Fun and happiness go together, don’t they? How could I hope to make it through the day to day living of life together if we never have any fun? This can take all sorts of forms. It could be playing cards, telling jokes, celebrating milestones, or any number of things. But a truly happy couple gets creative.
How about making doing the dishes fun? Think of ordinary common place things, what could make those things fun? Think soap fights? Think music and dancing. It is fun in the ordinary that really sets a happy couple apart.
Aim to have fun raking leaves, making the bed, and every other normally mind-numbing chore. The more fun you have, the happier you will be.
2) Date Night
I recently watched a video that was marketing an awesome-looking program for men that I have been considering. One moment of the video really struck me as something that I can do right now. The leader spoke clearly and told those listening:
“Quit being a cheap skate. Date night is not optional.”
Dates do NOT need to be expensive. But go out together in some fashion, just the two of you. Dates can also be fun with other couples.
If you have kids, I know this can be tough. We were once part of a couples group where two-thirds of us would go out and the other third watched the kids. We had two free babysitter nights to go on dates. Find a way.
3) Serve Each Other
You know what wows your partner! You had to know how to do that or you would not be together. When I do the dishes or fix the broken light switch, I am serving my wife. When I stop by the store and pick up milk, I am serving my wife.
Gentlemen, try the old-fashioned holding the door open for her routines. It still works wonders. Wives make that meal that he loves and dress up for dinner. Find ways to serve one another and remain a happy couple.
4) Eat Dinner Together Often (No TV)
Turn off all electronics and simply have a meal together. I recently read a quote that said that sometimes, the old ways of communication are still the best. Eating over a meal is less stressful. If you run out of topics, you can talk about the food.
Food also brings back memories that can only be remembered with the smells and tastes that meals provide. Think of apple pies and what your house smelled like as a kid when mom was making it. Happy yet? Imagine that entering into your relationship consistently.
5) Talk Regularly
Almost every relationship book and every happy couple that I have met that have been married for any length of time, past when the kids have moved out, have told me to talk to each other.
Read books and discuss what you are reading. Join a club, do something, go out and create things to talk about besides the kids.
Do this while the kids are still around! I dare you to go on a date this very week with ONE rule: you cannot talk about the kids. Practice it now and prepare for the time when they won’t give you as much to talk about.
6) Be Faithful
This goes beyond fidelity. Be faithful to bring honor and dignity to your companion.
Over my lifetime, I have met men and women who will, typically, in the spirit of humor, make fun of their other half. They will talk about how they are stupid or ugly or clumsy or any manner of negative description.
While they might get a momentary laugh, even from their companion, these words actually can hurt – and hurt deeply. The thought that usually comes to me when I am hearing this sort of banter goes something like this, “If he/she is as bad as you say, how you decided to hook up with them? Did you have to settle or something? Who is the real flawed person?”
Speak of honoring of your mate. One other area of faithfulness that is critical to happiness. Control your imagination. Avoid pornography or fantasizing about other people. Faithfulness with your whole being makes a couple happy.
7) True Intimacy
SEX! I know that the men reading this post were hoping this would make the list. It is true that for romantic couples, this is a force multiplier. Too often, sex degenerates into seeking pleasure for one’s self rather that going above and beyond what is expected from your partner.
Slow things down just a bit and take time to really investigate each other. Discover their likes and dislikes. Seek to ensure that they have the best experience possible. Make it an all day tease fest, turned into an intimate connection.
Done poorly or selfishly, it can destroy any relationship. Done right, this area brings great happiness to couples.
8) Vacation Together
Go out on an adventure together. This will create memories to talk about. Going through these somewhat controlled moments of uncertainty that we call vacations can be some of the most bonding events to make couples stay together.
A common answer from happy couples and happy families is a propensity to go camping together. Why camping? When you go camping, the odds of things going wrong are monumental. It was a rainstorm during pretty much every camping trip I have ever taken that has led to some of our best adventures.
It is rare that a week goes by that we do not relive some portion of that adventure and have laughs or remember lessons learned. Go camping together, hope things go against your plan, and experience a happy relationship.
9) Have a Common Interest
A happy couple should have some of their own interests and hobbies. This is normal and natural. But work diligently to find something that you can do together that will be another source of conversation and mutual enjoyment.
My wife and I were at a day camp family fun day sort of thing and discovered that we really enjoyed canoeing together. We both had been canoeing on multiple occasions but never really loved it. Somehow, together, it was fantastic. Within a year, we owned our own canoe and paddles and continue to enjoy this hobby together.
10) Find Excuses To Smooch
I have no idea why we like kissing so much. But I admit I love it! I love to kiss my wife and strive to freak the kids out as often as possible by kissing her in public. For Christmas, I put up mistletoe, and when there is kissing in a movie, I make it a point to kiss her.
Red lights are great excuses for a short make out session. Find your own excuses and do this often, and you will soon be a happy couple.
Long term, loving relationships that can last for decades are possible.
These are the best of relationships, but you must work toward your happiness. Visit with those who have endured and experienced happiness for many years and learn from them. Practice some of these suggestions and create memories. It will result in a happy and enduring life.