My wife Ashley and I have spent years learning from some of the healthiest and happiest married couples on the planet. We’ve interviewed people, read books, attended marriage conferences, looked at our own life experiences and we’ve listened to feedback from thousands of people who have written us online. We’ve discovered some of the habits that separate the happiest couples from everyone else including the 7 things happy couples do every day. We’ve also learned that just like there are some distinct habits that happy couples do, there are also some key things that happy couples DON’T do.
Nobody is perfect, so even the happiest and healthiest couples mess up sometimes, but overall, the healthiest couples consistently avoid the following seven things. I’m convinced that your marriage could instantly become healthier and happier if you’ll avoid these things too.
(In no particular order)
1. Happy couples don’t put their careers or hobbies ahead of their marriage.
We all have “busy seasons” where we have to put in some extra time at work or school, but the happiest couples have discovered that no amount of extra money or extra workplace recognition is ever worth sacrificing happiness in the marriage. If you want a happy marriage, then give your spouse the best of yourself; not what’s leftover after you’ve given your best to everything else.
Read more: Want a Great Marriage? Ask Yourself This
2. Happy couples don’t make a major decision without first consulting each other.
When you get married, you’re voluntarily giving up individual ownership of everything and you’re assuming collectively ownership with your spouse. Now, your time, your dreams, your debts, your challenges and even your decisions are intertwined. The happiest couples have learned that talking through every decision is a great way to stay connected, show mutual respect and also reach wiser decisions.
3. Happy couples don’t let each other face a struggle alone.
You’ve got to have each other’s back. It’s that simple. Never sit on the sidelines while your spouse is fighting a battle. Face every challenge together; hand-in-hand and side-by-side.
4. Happy couples don’t put up with “friends” who bad-mouth marriage or glamorize divorce.
If you’re hanging out with friends who talk disrespectfully about their spouse, your spouse or about marriage in general, you probably need to hang out with some different friends. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you towards a stronger marriage; not encourage you towards divorce.
Read more: 6 Ways to Reduce Stress in Your Marriage
5. Happy couples don’t dump their stress onto their family.
We all get stressed out sometimes, and we’ve ALL blown it and taken that stress out on our loved ones. The happiest couples have been intentional about keeping as much stress as possible out of the marriage and out of the home. Strive to make your home a safe and encouraging oasis for all who live in it. Your marriage will be much happier as a result.
6. Happy couples don’t talk disrespectfully to each other (even when they’re disagreeing).
Happy couples don’t always agree, but they ALWAYS show each other respect. In every disagreement in marriage, remember that there won’t be a “winner” and a “loser.” You’re on the same team! You’ll either win together or lose together, so work together to find a solution.
Read more: How to Have a Happy Husband
7. Happy couples don’t have the word “divorce” in their vocabularies.
The couples who make it aren’t the ones who never had a reason to get divorced. They’re simply the ones whose commitment to each other was always bigger than their reasons to call it quits. Remove your exit strategies and take the “D-Word” out of your vocabularies and you’ll be well on your way to a stronger and happier marriage.
Dave Willis is a pastor and, with his wife, Ashley, founded StrongerMarriages.org and the “Marriage” app as a way to encourage couples to build stronger marriages. He is the author of The Seven Laws of Love.