Let me begin by stating the obvious. Every marriage is different and not all people will instantly find happiness through some magic recipe. But with that said, there are some generally good habits to try to follow that could help build and maintain a happy marriage.
1. Manage your expectations
I can not stress this one enough. Unrealistic expectations for yourself and your partner are the most common start of arguments. She thought you were gonna do this, but you did that. You thought she would take care this but instead she did that. We all know that communication is so important, but what I've found is that sometimes this process of expectations can be non-verbal.
One example from my own life was coming home from a deployment overseas. I was gone for nine months and was missing my wife and family very much. As the tour was coming to an end, I imagined what it would be like when I stepped off the plane. I dreamed of wrapping my arms around my wife, my kids hugging my legs and going home together. When we got home, if it was late in the evening, we would put the kids to bed together and she would immediately want some physical attention. In reality, I showed up in the morning. The kids wanted my attention all day, and I was extremely stressed out by the bombardment of noise and attention. What I didn't realize was just like I had dreamed of a scenario of quiet romance with my wife, they had dreamed of finally getting time and attention from me. They wanted to show me what they're working on. My wife wanted relief from the kids and to see them interact with me. This imbalance of expectations one to another probably left everyone slightly unsatisfied. What I learned from this scenario is a life lesson that applies to many things, let go of expectations. Things will happen as they will. You can plan, you can prepare, but you can not always control the outcome of situations. It is better to make the best of situations as they come, moment-to-moment.
Try this: next time you make a plan with your family, don't imagine how it will go. Just arrive. Then see what activities you can do while you are there and focus on how you, your wife and the kids feel and if they are happy. Also, try to enjoy the journey there. Talk to each other. I have the best talks with my wife when we are all in the car driving somewhere. I don't have my phone, she puts hers down and she has all my attention (other than the road of course).
2. Make yourself happy
It's as simple as it sounds. Don't expect her to have all the answers for making you happy. Take responsibility for making yourself happy and invite her to do what you like to do. Have a hobby or thing you like to do for yourself that is cost efficient or budgeted for. Make a plan for a certain amount of time for that hobby by yourself (or with your friends). As long as this time is balanced and your spouse is cool with it, then you can get some decompress time on a weekly or monthly basis. Some healthy examples:
Going to the Gym
Some caveats that you may not want to hear but need to hear. If your hobby consumes your time daily, involves heavy drinking, gambling or drugs, then it's NOT healthy and you need to enjoy that in moderation or look for substitutes. When you're young and single those all consuming hobbies like daily video games or abusing substances were your life. Now you have a partner and you share this life. But all that said, make sure you talk about your time with your partner, find a balance and make sure it includes some time for yourself, some time for her by herself and time for the kids if you have them.
"A time for you, a time for me, a time for us, a time for we."
The main take away from this point is to not depend on your spouse or partner to make you happy. And at the same time, don't be selfish. Help her to decompress as well with her own free time. If you have children, then consider them as well in this balance and give family time its own priority as well. It's a lot to juggle, but that is life. When you look back, it will be the memories made that will have the lasting value.
3. Learn and apply the Love Languages
When I say love languages, I'm referring to the 5 love languages book by Gary Chapman. If you haven't read it, pick yourself up a copy. To summarize, we all feel loved in 5 main different ways and one of those is felt a bit more than the others: physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, and receiving gifts. Read the book and share it with your spouse. Towards the back of the book is a quiz that may help identify which one or two apply to you and your spouse. When you learn which one makes your spouse happiest, just keep doing that one over and over for your entire relationship. For example, mine is physical touch and like a lot of other guys all I want is to be close to my lady. There is nothing emasculating to know this about yourself. And it may also be very important for your spouse to know it. If you or your spouse feel unfulfilled in your relationship, perhaps your love language is never happening for you. Your wife may be trying to spend quality time with you with activities or cooking your favorite meal, which is acts of service, but all you want more than anything is to cuddle sometimes, to feel her touch. If she loves quality time and you always try to buy fancy gifts for her, those gifts will be appreciated but may not make her feel as loved as when you just sit down and do something together.
The take away is that as guys we need to learn these little things about our partner. Use and abuse that information fellas. If you care about her, show her in the way that really does it for her. Snag that book to learn more about it. Link Below: