Five Simple Love Languages Every Happy Couple Should Speak
Once you exchange your vows and you head off into the sunset on your perfect honeymoon, you will live happily ever after. Well, except when you don’t live happily ever after. Because sometimes marriage is not all about happily ever after so much as it is about just getting through the days. Marriage is not about perfection. People fight. They have different opinions and they have different beliefs at times. It occurred to me just the other night as my husband and I were in the airport waiting on our flight. We were sitting at the bar enjoying time together as well as a glass of wine when two younger women next to us began talking about marriage. It seemed as if one was engaged and quickly approaching her wedding date and the other was already married (so we gathered from their conversation). Soon-to-be bride told her friend she and her fiancé had been arguing over the silliest things lately as their big day approached. She shrugged it off as nerves and pressure getting to them.
Her friend shook her head and told her that she might want to reconsider if they’re already arguing. She and her husband had been married for a year already and they never fight. Like never ever, ever fight. She then went on to talk about how marriage should be happy, and marrying someone you cannot get along with is a terrible idea. After I picked my jaw up off the bar, I looked my husband and shook my head. It occurred to me with Mrs. Perfect Marriage’s statement that there is more to this story. She’s either a total liar trying to look good in her marriage (perhaps because it’s not working out well and she’s wishfully dreaming) or she’s married to someone so much like her that they literally agree on everything at all times (which seems admittedly boring to me) or one of them is too afraid to stand up for their beliefs to the other so they cave at all times to avoid arguments (which seems very unhealthy).
As I listened to this young woman tell her friend that marriage has to be perfect all the time, it occurred to me that some of the most happily married people I know have some of the same habits, the same quirks and the same convictions. Marriage, my friends, is not about perfection. It’s about embracing imperfection and learning to compromise. And that’s why I came up with this list of habits that happily married couples that I know seem to all share.
#5 - The Art of Argue
Couples argue. Sorry, people, it’s just part of the deal. Marriage is fraught with arguments over the years. It’s simple and pointless stuff like who left the bathroom light on and it’s big arguments, such as whether or not to spend the holidays with your side of the family or his. It’s a lot of arguing, but happy couples really do know how to do this quite well. It’s like an art they’ve mastered and they’re good at it. They know how to argue so that it’s not hurtful or vindictive. They know how to argue so that it’s productive and so that there is a solution to the problem instead of name calling and hatred and anger. It’s more about how to argue productively than anything else, and happy couples are really good at this.
#4 - The Ability to Use Positive Language
The happy couples I know don’t use negative language. This was never anything that I noticed in the decade+ of friendship we’ve had with each. It wasn’t until we were at dinner one night with another couple we don’t see all that often that we realized their language to and about one another is so obviously negative. Whereas driving anywhere unfamiliar together brings out the absolute worst in my husband and I (I’m terrified his desire to sightsee will kill us and he hates my backseat driving), we are still positive with one another. I say things like “I’ll take photos if you just get us there in one piece, okay honey?” and he’ll respond by telling me that I’m his favorite back seat driver. Then we will laugh about our ordeal with friends when we arrive and repeat the story. This couple, however, was so negative about everything. They complained about one another in front of one another, they complained about everything to us, they were borderline rude to one another – and they were just awful. It made me realize we are around a bunch of positive people. We might be angry, but we aren’t negative in our language when discussing our spouses.
#3 - The Gift of Listening
When my husband comes home and tells me about his day, most days I really don’t care all that much about the joke someone told him in his office, but I listen. Why? Because I’m about to tell him a bunch of things he does not care about either, and I’d like for him to listen. It’s the least you can do. You might not care, but you pretend to care, you listen and you file that away under “Well, who cares, but look at me I’m a good wife,” and you move on. Hearing what your spouse has to say is vital. It’s important. And it’s not something that you should take for granted.
#2 - The Ability to Compromise
The art of compromise goes a long way. My husband and I learned a long time ago that if we compromise on certain things, we’re just much happier. Rather than complaining about the things I don’t want to do that he wants me to do, I do them with a smile on my face and then he returns the favor. It’s always easier for us to just suck it up and do what’s required, whether it’s dinner with a coworker of his whose wife is vile or him doing a favor for your brother who is never appreciative, because he knows it will make you happy. Those things work out in the long run.
#1 - A Sense of Humor
Marriage is nothing without a sense of humor. For example, last week on vacation my husband broke two ribs tubing behind the boat in a beautiful lake in the northern Tennessee mountains. Tubing; seriously. I’ve been super good all week about not being hilarious around him so that he does not feel the need to laugh, but my sense of humor does not allow this to continue for much longer, so I have been creating a list of all the hilarious things I want to say or tell him so that once he’s not in so much pain, he can have that. Because, honestly, now that I cannot use my overwhelming wit and humor, it’s killing me. Probably not as much as his ribs, but still.
If you can’t laugh about the things that go wrong, the things that aren’t as you expected; you will never get anywhere in life. Marriage is much better when you can laugh about things together. Trust me. Him not being able to laugh is really boring right now.