Marital Bliss After 18 Years? You Bet! 7 Ways to Make Bliss Happen


A recent study found that after 15 years, if a couple is still together, the relationship is pretty solid, but happiness levels will never again reach those of the first newlywed year. Ah! That first year! We were dirt-poor, our apartment was furnished with boxes and camping coolers as furniture. And we were disgustingly mushy in love.
We have been married now for almost 18 years. In that time, we’ve had five amazing kids, moved twice, gone through a number of jobs and joblessness, had prosperous years and not-so-prosperous decades, and I’m glad to say that our relationship has defied the odds determined by that marriage study. Our friendship is deeper, our partnership is well-defined and fulfilling, even the intimacy gets better and better. Did we just get lucky? In some ways yes, but maybe not in the ways you might think.
It’s true that it is more work to maintain the marriage and the romance, but it’s worth it! Not only that, but what about adding kids to the mix? Here are a few tricks we’ve discovered over the years to keep our relationship happy and healthy:
1. Keep a sense of humor
Those who play together stay together. Life throws a lot our way, and the best survival tactic is laughter.
2. Don’t put words in each other’s mouths (or intentions, or thoughts, or….)
One of the most destructive habits to fall into is imagining what the other thinks, or redefining what they say. The cure for this is simply communication. We laugh because it’s a lot like the irrational anger that you can feel when you wake up from a bad dream and take it out on each other, but it really is that ridiculous to waste time creating scenarios in our minds then projecting it onto each other.
3. Nurture the physical, emotional, and spiritual relationship
Balance is critical, and each of these elements of the marriage is just as important. Business and obligation creep in so easily. It takes no time out of anything we’re doing to simply remember to hold each other’s hands, but it is a little connection – a physical reminder of our closeness – that keeps us close.
4. Be creative
Think outside the box – outside of what retailers and movies and books tell us we should do. Each marriage is unique, and being open to creative solutions to our own brand of crazy is essential.
5. Make time – you’ll never have time
One of the most important things we’ve learned about time together is that some is better than none. Five minutes of talking together might be all we get in a day, but it’s essential. One year we were both miserable for weeks because we couldn’t afford to go away for an anniversary. Now it seems so trivial because we’ve realized how much we wasted waiting for a perfect romantic extreme event, when we can make every day Heaven by maximizing the little moments.
6. Communicate expectations / Mediate expectations
Both partners come with their own preconceived ideas of what constitutes romance. Yet somehow there is a taboo against discussing these things. If we love each other, we should just know. Right?
We’ve had disappointing Valentine’s and anniversaries, argued through holidays, and grumbled with resentment over expecting each other to intuitively fulfill one another’s needs, until we got fed up with it. We discussed, and continue to discuss, exactly what we envision as the perfect…everything. Once we know each other’s versions of perfect, we understand how to make each other happy. Is candlelight dinner romantic? Or is cuddling? Is a traditional gift (candy, flowers, etc.) romantic, or is something unique more satisfying? What touches our hearts more – gifts, time spent together, words of affection and appreciation?
It’s not a shopping list, or dos and don’ts that create rigid rules. It’s just a matter of learning and understanding. It doesn’t take away one bit of the magic, in fact it enhances it!
I used to fume and stomp around every Mother’s Day while I made dinner. I finally explained, a few days before the day, that more than gifts, I’d like a day off from household responsibilities. Guess who had no idea that’s what I wanted? Or that I was silently resenting him and hating the day when he thought he was honoring me? And how could he know? A little communication and voila! He avoids the search for a present, and I enjoy a pampered day free of pouting.
7. Compromise often
Marriage is also about compromise, and learning to mediate expectations is also important. Life happens. So much can change ideal into reality. Marriage isn’t a romance novel, but it is extremely, realistically romantic when we understand the unique and personal views of what each partner considers romance.
Tysen and Tamara are proud parents of five kids, and besides being blissfully married they work together to create the podcast Go For It Show, which Tysen hosts. Tysen is a marketing expert with 20 years of experience in the radio industry. Tamara is a writer, blogger and adjunct writing professor.


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