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12 Ways to Have a Happy, Healthy Marriage

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Everyone in this life is affected by marriage, either that of their parents, their own, or their children's. Keeping a marriage strong while surviving life's trials can be a huge struggle, but learning from other's experiences can help us through these times. Here's a list of twelve ways a couple can develop a happy, healthy marriage.

1. Marriage Based on Faith in Jesus Christ

A Happy, Healthy Marriage
A Happy, Healthy Marriage
A happy marriage will be more easily developed and maintained upon a firm foundation of faith in Jesus Christ. Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy said:

"A final gospel truth that will contribute to our understanding of and hence the quality of our marriages relates to the degree in which we involve the Savior in our relationships as husbands and wives. As designed by our Heavenly Father, marriage consists of our first entering into a covenant relationship with Christ and then with each other. He and his teachings must be the focal point of our togetherness. As we become more like him and grow closer to him, we will naturally become more loving and grow closer to each other" ("A Union of Love and Understanding," Ensign, Oct 1994, 47).

2. Pray Together

One of the most common things mentioned in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when talking about having a happy, healthy marriage is to pray together. President James E. Faust said:

"Marriage relationships can be enriched by better communication. One important way is to pray together. This will resolve many of the differences, if there are any, between the couple before going to sleep....

"We communicate in a thousand ways, such as a smile, a brush of the hair, a gentle touch.... Some other important words for both husband and wife to say, when appropriate, are, 'I'm sorry.' Listening is also an excellent form of communication." ("Enriching Your Marriage," Ensign, Apr 2007, 4–8).

3. Study the Scriptures Together

To really strengthen your marriage study the scriptures daily with your spouse! Here's some great counsel to help you start:

"As husband and wife, sit down together in a comfortable and quiet place in your home. Consult the Topical Guide found toward the back of the LDS edition of the King James Bible. Scan the scriptural topics for areas that you feel might help strengthen your relationship with the Lord, with each other, and with your children. Consult the scriptural references listed with each topic, and then discuss them. Jot down the insights you gain and the ways you will apply these scriptures in your own lives" (Spencer J. Condie, "And We Did Liken the Scriptures unto Our Marriage," Ensign, Apr 1984, 17).

4. Have Charity for Each Other

Selflessly giving of oneself is one of the hardest aspects of marriage. Our natural tendency is to be self-focused: that we make sure we're happy; that we get our way; that we're right. But happiness in marriage cannot be achieved when we put our selfish needs first. President Ezra Taft Benson said:

"Today's inordinate emphasis on individualism brings egotism and separation. Two individuals becoming 'one flesh' is still the Lord's standard. (See Gen. 2:24.)

"The secret of a happy marriage is to serve God and each other. The goal of marriage is unity and oneness, as well as self-development. Paradoxically, the more we serve one another, the greater is our spiritual and emotional growth" ("Salvation—A Family Affair," Ensign, Jul 1992, 2).

5. Only Use Kind Words

It's easy to be kind and say loving words when you're happy with your spouse, but what about when you're upset, frustrated, annoyed or angry? It's better to walk away and say nothing then to say something hurtful and mean. Wait until you're calm so you can discuss the situation without negative emotions tempting you to say something that would be hurtful and damaging.

Saying unkind words in the form of a joke or with sarcasm is an abusive technique that people use to avoid being responsible for their words/actions by forcing the blame on the other person, making it their fault that their feelings were hurt because they "just couldn't take a joke."

6. Show Gratitude

Showing genuine gratitude, to both God and a spouse, shows love and strengthens marriage. Giving thanks is easy and should be done for both the little and the big things, especially those things a spouse does on a daily basis.

"In the enriching of marriage, the big things are the little things. There must be constant appreciation for each other and thoughtful demonstration of gratitude. A couple must encourage and help each other grow. Marriage is a joint quest for the good, the beautiful, and the divine" (James E. Faust, "Enriching Your Marriage, Ensign, Apr 2007, 4–8).

7. Give Thoughtful Gifts

An important way to maintain a happy, healthy marriage is to give your spouse a gift now and then. It doesn't need to cost a lot of money, if any, but it does need to be thoughtful. The thought put into a special gift will tell your spouse how much you love them- much more than a gift of monetary value ever can. Unless your spouse's "Love Language" is gifts, then you don't need to give them often, but it would be highly advisable to still give an occasional gift.

One of the twenty suggestions by Brother Linford is to give "occasional gifts... such as a note, a needed item- but mostly gifts of time and self" (Richard W. Linford, "Twenty Ways to Make a Good Marriage Great," Ensign, Dec 1983, 64).

8. Choose to Be Happy

Just like being happy in life, being happy in marriage is a choice. We can choose to say unkind words or we can choose to hold our tongue. We can choose to be angry or we can choose to forgive. We can choose to work for a happy, healthy marriage or we can choose not to.

I really like this quote by Sister Gibbons, "Marriage demands work. A happy marriage exacts the very best of us. Yet above all, maintaining a successful marriage is a choice" (Janette K. Gibbons, "Seven Steps to Strengthen a Marriage," Ensign, Mar 2002, 24). The attitude we have about our marriage is a choice: we can be positive or we can be negative.

9. Keep Stress Levels Low

It's so much harder to react rationally and kindly when we are stressed. Learning how to lower our level of stress, especially in regard to finances, is a great way to have a happy, healthier marriage.

"What do airplanes and marriages have in common? Relatively little, except stress points. In airplanes, stress points are the parts that are vulnerable to a lot of wear and tear....

"Like airplanes, marriages have stress points.... As engineers of our own marriages, therefore, we need to be aware of the specific stress points in our marriages so that we can strengthen our vulnerabilities" (Richard Tice, "Making Airplanes and Marriages Fly," Ensign, Feb 1989, 66).

10. Continue to Date

Continuing to date each other will help keep the spark in your marriage. It takes a little planning and prioritizing but the results are worth it. You don't have to spend much money to have a fun date, but can easily find something enjoyable to do together, such as going to the temple together or doing one of these dating ideas.

"Time spent together sharing interests helps a couple grow closer and gives them a chance to relax and take a break from daily stresses. Perhaps most important, dates help a couple build a reserve of love. Filled with memories of good times and strong positive feelings, this reserve can help them through difficult times of stress, disagreement, and trial" (Emily C. Orgill, "Date Night—at Home," Ensign, Apr 1991, 57).

11. It Takes Time

Building a happy, health marriage takes a lot of hard work, time, and patience- but it is possible!

"Marriage, like any other worthwhile activity, requires time and energy. It takes at least as much time to keep a marriage in shape as it does for a weight lifter to keep his body in shape. No one would try to run a business, build a house, or rear children on two to three hours a week. In fact, the more two people who love each other interact, the stronger their bond becomes" (Dee W. Hadley, "It Takes Time," Ensign, Dec 1987, 29).

12. Complete Fidelity

To keep their covenants of marriage a husband and wife must always been completely faithful to each other. Trust and respect are built upon this faithfulness, while breaking the law of chastity, even with something as seemingly harmless as flirting, can destroy the sacred bond of matrimony.

I strongly believe that love and respect go hand in hand. Without love you can't respect your spouse and without respect how can you love your spouse? You can't. So build your love for each other by respecting one another and always being true and faithful to your spouse.

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