Ever wondered why some marriages last decades and others can barely make it a year? Why do some couples thrive and grow together while others crash and burn? Because they know the keys to a happy marriage.

The secret? There are three secrets actually; three keys to a happy marriage. Without any these, most couples will struggle.

Keys To A Happy Marriage

1. Know Yourself and Your Partner


One of the biggest keys to a happy marriage is knowing your partner. Like, REALLY knowing them.

The sad fact is, most people spend more time trying to understand how their smart phone works than how partner works. We’re highly unique and complex individuals with our own set of quirks and behaviors.

The more we understand ourselves and our partner, the less conflict we experience. John Gottman, PhD, the pioneer of the study of marital satisfaction refers to this as our “Love Map.” Essentially, the deeper our knowledge of our partner and how they experience their day-to-day world, the deeper our connection to them. Gottman also suggests this deep connection pays dividends in times of conflict as it better allows us to understand where our partner is coming from and thus, be more empathic and understanding.

2. Communication


Communication is perhaps on the most important keys to a happy marriage.

Communication is to a marriage what gasoline is to an automobile: without it, you’re not going anywhere. The better the communication, the longer the motor will last.

The words we use to connect with others are incredibly important. Use the right words and you generate feelings of love, safety, and security. Use the wrong ones and you’re likely to create anger and resentment.

It’s often said how you say something is as important as what you say, and in many ways this is true. When you ask your spouse a question, is their answer thoughtful or dismissive? Do they say, “Yes that sounds like a great plan” or “Whatever”?

Both are affirmative but the first sentence is positive and respectful.

Perhaps the most important factor of good communication is listening. Any marriage can easily be improved when one or both partners simply learns how to become a better listener.

So how exactly do you become a good listener?

Start by caring more about your partner. When you truly care for someone, you’re truly interested in what they have to say.

Second, when they’re speaking, don’t think about other things. Don’t think about your day or what you want for dinner. Don’t think about how you’re going to respond to what they’re saying. Just simply listen to them. Give them your full attention. No doubt, if you’re not in the habit of doing this, this will take practice.

A great way to start is to repeat back what you hear your partner saying. For example, “It sounds like you were really frustrated when your boss told you Suzy was getting promoted?”

If you can master this one simple skill, you’ll see all the relationships in your life flourish.

3. Put Each Other First


Putting your partner above all else is on the keys to a happy marriage.

Successful marriages include partners that put other’s needs first. When both are doing this, all needs are met. Problems arise when only one individual meets their partner’s needs. When this happens, one person is unhappy and the other is perfectly content

Gottman often refers to the concept of fondness and admiration. His findings conclude that when we demonstrate both of these qualities for our partner, we find ourselves in a much happier marriage with less conflict.

How often are you acknowledging your appreciation for your partner? When was the last time you shared with them much you appreciate something about them or something they do? Remember, this doesn’t have to be a deep emotional conversation. It can be as simple as, “I really appreciate that you make an extra cup of coffee for me in the morning before you leave” or, “I like it when you text me during the day to see how my day is going.”

If your marriage is missing some of these critical ingredients, or you’re not quite sure how to begin to develop and increase your own self-awareness, don’t be afraid to seek the guidance of a counselor. A skilled couples therapist can help both individuals and couples get their priorities straight and reconnect.

James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.