How To Have A Happy Marriage With These 5 Do's And 5 Don'ts

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Love

You want to know how to have a happy marriage. Good for you!

Marriage is long and hard and being proactive is the best way to keep it healthy. So many couples put off working on their marriages, hoping that someday they'll have the opportunity to do so, only to find out that it’s too late.

Along with the importance of doing things to keep your marriage healthy, there are also things that you definitely shouldn't do! Ironically, they are often two sides of the same coin, and understanding that can make them easier to manage.

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How to have a happy marriage with these 5 do's and 5 don'ts.

1. Do: Communicate.

The number one most important thing to do to keep your marriage happy is communication. What kind of communication?

Communication about feelings, household chores, expectations, in-laws, work schedules, the kids, money — anything and everything to do with your marriage.

Without communication, relationships can, and will, stall out. Without communication, people hurt each other unintentionally. Without communication, couples lose their connection.

Why don’t couples communicate? The common reason is that they don’t want to cause their partner pain, but also because they don’t make time or they don’t want to deal with things sometimes, or they just don’t think to do it.

Those are pretty lame excuses to not do the key thing that could keep a marriage happy.

So, don’t just try to communicate — do it! 

Don’t: Be passive-aggressive.

The flip side of communication is passive aggression. Someone who's passive-aggressive is someone who "uses indirect resistance as a reaction to the demands of others and an avoidance of direct confrontation, as in procrastinating, pouting, or misplacing important materials."

Are you someone who says they'll do something, knowing you won’t? Or someone who reacts to a comment from your partner with a sneer and a roll of the eyes? Or maybe you put off things, even if you know that they're important to your partner?

All of these things are hallmarks of someone who is passive-aggressive. More than almost anything, passive aggression can sabotage a happy relationship.

If there's one thing to do to keep your marriage healthy it's to never be passive-aggressive. So, communicate with your partner. If you can communicate about your wants and needs, you will find yourself happier than you ever thought you could be.

2. Do: Work together.

My daughter always said that her friend’s parents who were still together when she went off to college were parents who worked well together.

Instead of one person being in charge, both adults made the decisions around social life, kid’s activities, time around the holidays, date nights, etc.

All of these things allowed the couple to stay connected in a way that if one person had been in charge would not be possible.

Furthermore, the ability to work well together will make passive-aggressiveness less likely, which will only make your relationship healthier.

Don’t: Divide and conquer.

When my husband and I were married, we decided to divide and conquer. He was the one who went to work and made the money. I was the one who stayed home and was in charge of the family and the house.

I wish we had never done that.

His focus was work, which made me angry and resentful. My focus was on our children and their lives, which made him angry and resentful.

I always thought that once the kids were gone we would have an opportunity to work our way back to each other and work together to be happy, but we never got the chance!

3. Do: Be willing to forgive

The importance of forgiveness cannot be understated. The ability to forgive may be equal to the definition of love.

We are all humans. Human beings laugh, cry, do big things, and are impulsive and damaged. As a result, people make mistakes.

If you hold onto a mistake that someone has made, it will only eat you up inside. If you hold onto a mistake that someone made thinking that they did it because they didn’t love you, it will only destroy your relationship.

Are you willing to forgive someone for making a human mistake? Would you want someone to forgive you if you did?

Don’t: Hold grudges.

My mother could hold a grudge like nobody’s business. If my dad did one thing wrong, it was unforgivable.

I remember that he used to come home late every night and didn’t pay attention to her. She was hurt and got passive-aggressive, which made him pay even less attention to her.

My mother never got over that. As a result, their marriage ended in shambles and she held onto her anger at my father for the rest of her life. I believe that, ultimately, those grudges killed her.

Are you someone who holds on to grudges? Are those grudges getting you anywhere? Are they injuring your relationship? If so, try to let them go.

RELATED: 8 Early Ways To Tell If Your Marriage Will Last

4. Do: Keep the romance going.

I'm in an incredibly healthy relationship, and the reason for that is, I believe, that we are determined to never stop making sure the other feels loved.

We make an effort to tell each other how we feel about each other. We give each other physical attention, space, and understanding. We forgive each other when we need to.

We work on this every single day. It’s not always easy but it is totally worth it.

We’ve been together for four years and, to this day, we are like a young couple in love.

Don’t: Take each other for granted.

The death of many relationships is caused when someone takes the other one for granted.

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They assume that their person will always be there for them, that no matter what they say or do, they will be forgiven. They believe that someday, they will be able to fix everything that's broken.

They're not willing to get divorced but aren’t willing to work on the marriage either.

My boyfriend and I rarely take each other for granted. If either one feels like we are being taken for granted, we speak up, immediately, so the other person knows how we're feeling.

5. Do: Talk about your sex life.

As marriages go on, sex lives can often be diminished. Whether it’s because of work, kids, loss of interest, or anxiety, married people’s sex lives can be a mess.

Unfortunately, when this happens, couples are hesitant to talk about it. Like money, the topic of sex is very fraught. They think that discussing it will only lead to embarrassment, shame, and pain.

As a result, the topic of sex is swept under the table so couple's sex lives diminish or disappear.

A marriage struggles to be a happy one without sex.

Don’t: Go looking elsewhere for love and affection.

Many people who are in unhealthy relationships feel taken for granted, don’t communicate, can't forgive each other or work together, and feel their sex life is difficult. They can — and do — find themselves vulnerable to seeking love and affection elsewhere.

More often than not, people don’t go looking for affection, but when it's put in front of them, they can’t resist.

Seeking love and affection elsewhere is a sure-fire sign that your relationship isn't a happy one and might even end.

Knowing things to do to keep your marriage happy is the key to doing so.

That being said, understanding what's important to avoid is just as important.

Know that if you can communicate, work together and forgive each other, keep the romance going, and can talk about sex, you'll find that you can have a marriage that will withstand the test of time and remain happy.

I know this list seems daunting. If so, choose one of the items above to start and then do it! Even one thing can make a big difference.

RELATED: The 12 "Golden Rules" Of A Happy, Long-Lasting Marriage

Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based, certified life and love coach. Let her help you find, and keep, love in this crazy world in which we live. Email her at mitzi@letyourdreamsbegin.com and get started!

This article was originally published at Let Your Dreams Begin. Reprinted with permission from the author.