Your wedding day is only the start of a lifetime’s journey together, but how you deal with the difficult times is an indicator of how successful your marriage is likely to be. This Valentines day take a look at our A-Z of having a happy marriage and we’ll make sure you won’t get lost along the way.

Acceptance

Learn to accept one another’s opinions rather than steamroller your own ideas constantly. Don’t try to rule the roost all the time.

Budget

The biggest cause of arguments between couples? Money. If one of you is a spender and the other a saver you need to talk early on about how you’re going to organise your money, don’t leave it to chance.

Communication

“Know your needs and speak up, “A relationship is not a guessing game and your partner is not a mind reader.” So if something is bothering you don’t let it fester, talk things through.

Duvet days

Don’t feel you have to go out and get dolled up all the time. Enjoy each other’s company during lazy days, watch a DVD and stay in your PJs. Instead of cooking, order a pizza and relax. It’s one of the benefits of being in a long-term relationship.

Eating out

Make the effort to go out once a month for dinner or lunch at a weekend. In the early days of dating you probably went out all the time and it’s easy to slip into a pattern of not ‘bothering’. So book a table somewhere once in a while and go out on a date and talk.

Forgiveness

Okay, so we all have our boundaries that can’t be crossed but if he’s just annoying you by constantly leaving the milk out of the fridge it’s best to let it go and put the milk back yourself.

Get away breaks

Try and have a break from your routine by going away together, just the two of you, once in a while. This is particularly important when you have kids – sometimes you just need time to yourselves.

Humour

A sense of humour in a marriage is essential. It will see you through some difficult times – redundancy, money worries, ill health – and if you can laugh together you’re more likely to enjoy one another’s company.

In-laws

Basically, they’re part of the package once you get married. Like them or loathe them they’re a part of your life. If you really like them, that’s wonderful and if you can’t see eye to eye then be civil and polite. They’re going to be grandparents to your children one day too and you may find that they can be a great help to you.

Joint decisions

Try and decide things together and talk things through. Whether it’s where you want to go on holiday or the house you buy together. You’re a team and you need to work as one whenever possible.

Kiss and make up

My dad used to say ‘never let the sun go down on an argument’ and it’s important not to let a disagreement continue too long. After you’ve talked about an issue have a hug and resolve to get on with things. Life is too short to have a bad atmosphere between the two of you.

Love

Say ‘I love you’ to one another every day. Not just at romantic moments but when he’s done something for you like fill your car with petrol, or put out the rubbish. It shows your other half they’re appreciated. You really can’t say it enough.

Make time for friends

Try not to live in each other’s pockets. Your husband needs to have some ‘man’ time with his mates to go to a match or all those incomprehensible things men do. In turn you should spend time with your girlfriends. Doing things separately gives you something different to talk about when you’re together again and it’s important to have your own hobbies and pastimes.

Needs

It’s so important we can’t stress this enough. Don’t be afraid or shy of voicing your needs, so speak up! Marriage is not a guessing game and your partner is not a mind reader!

Opinions

Having your own opinions on what’s going on in the world makes for good conversation between the two of you. Although the two of you are ‘one’ you should retain some individuality. After all, that’s what made you fall in love with one another!

Perspective

“Put yourself in your other half’s shoes for five minutes and see how they feel about an issue,” says Michele Paradise. “You will learn a lot by seeing things from their perspective.”

Quitting

If you’ve each got a bad habit the other hates then try your hardest to quit. There’s nothing worse than a bad habit

Respect

For your marriage to last the course, it’s important not to lose respect for one another. Respect and love are very closely intertwined, so make sure there’s a healthy respect between the two of you.

Sex

Your sex life is going to change as your marriage goes on, but intimacy between a couple is essential. Make a real effort, invest in new lingerie, have nights away when you can – looking and feeling attractive to one another is very important.


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Trust

Trust is very fragile. If you’ve got a strong bond of trust between you, you’ll find you weather the bad storms. If trust is broken (and this can happen for a variety of reasons) it’s hard to rebuild. Think hard before you do anything that could break the trust between you – it’s not always an easy one to fix.

Underwear

Do an audit of your lingerie drawer often and chuck out any knickers and bras that are past their sell-by date. Trust us on this one, your man is very unlikely to complain when you invest in new underwear – and it’s an investment!

Vocalising

Talking about your thoughts to one another is so important. We keep on about communication but talking is so good – misunderstandings can so easily creep into a relationship when couples don’t talk to one another, and escalate out of proportion. So keep it vocal between you.

Wills

I know, you don’t want to think about writing a will but you both must. If one of you dies intestate (without a will) then the surviving partner may not get what is due to them. Sorting out your will doesn’t take long – talk about what you both want to do and then make an appointment to see a solicitor. It’s not expensive and not having a will could cost one of you dearly.

Ex girlfriends

Take them in your stride. There’s a reason they are an ex and anyway he’s with you now. Confidence is attractive, jealousy is a real-turn off. You don’t have to make friends with her, just be polite and distant. She’s history. You’re the future.

You time

Just because you’re a couple doesn’t mean you can’t have time to yourself. Allowing a bit of me-time – just to have a bath in peace, read a book, go for a walk on your own – is important for reflection on what’s going on in your life. And you should give your other half some him-time, too.

Zip it

Don’t gossip about your marriage with your girlfriends. If something isn’t going well, talk about it with your husband first and foremost. Okay, sometimes you’ll need to have a female friend to confide in but that’s not the same thing as gossip. Keep it zipped.

muchato