Secrets to Being Happily Married For a Decade

My husband and I have been married for over a decade, and together for over twelve. I can count on one hand the number of times I thought that things might not last between us. We have been through a lot as a couple - job losses, apartment fire, two miscarriages, cross country move, moving twice in 10 months and now sharing a home with my parents. Even though in the moment, things might be unbearable, we seem to come out the other side stronger than before. There aren't really any secrets to a happy marriage, but just in case you're curious about what makes things work for us, here are a few lessons we've learned.

Dan and I recorded a podcast about this topic, which inspired this blog post. You can check it out on the Wake Up With Gratitude podcast, Episode 28. Make sure you listen to the very end of the podcast.

Honest and Open Communication

This is where it all began for Dan and I. From the first moment we got together, I was clear about my expectations. I didn't have time to date, so he was either in or out. Obviously he chose to stay in. I was also clear that I wasn't interested in playing games and that when I texted or called, I expected a response. None of this get back to me in three days garbage. He also did the same, and told me when we moved in together that if I wanted him to clean or do specific chores that I had to tell him. He knew that he would walk by a sock on the floor ten times without picking it up, unless I said something.

Over the years, we have continued our open and honest communication. We connect throughout the day and share our challenges and successes. We are honest about our feelings and apologize when we make mistakes. We have both learned to be better listeners. And we always seem to have things to chat about, no matter how much time we spend together. We both believe that our open communication is the cornerstone of our marriage.

We Fight Clean

Dan has never called me names during a fight - at least not that he or I can remember. The worst I've called him is an a-hole (which he admits that he deserves sometimes). We don't bring up the past during a fight. I'm not really sure how we came to this agreement to fight clean but it's what we do. I think we have both been the recipient of name calling and mud-slinging in our lives and we understand how painful words can be. Neither of us wants to hurt the other with our words.

Knowing When To Walk Away

We have different styles of fighting. As Dan would say, my style is that I always want to be right. Dan is more about being logical. In the past, I used to keep pushing and pushing my point of view on Dan. And he would have enough and walk away to go on his computer, which made me even more upset! Dan is a smart guy, and he knew when his cup was full of anger, that it was best to go and diffuse it in a safe way. For him, that involves killing things in a video game. And if I'm smart enough to leave him alone, we can reconnect the next day and the anger has been diffused.

There are times when we go to bed angry. I will lie in bed and stew in the argument while he's on his computer. We don't believe in resolving things before bed. Often a good night of sleep helps us to be in a better frame of mind the next morning. And it's a lot easier to apologize when you're in a better mood.

Expressing Our Love

It's easy to figure what Dan's love language is. For those who have met Dan in person, you will remember that the first thing he offers you is a big bear hug. His love language is physical touch and affection. My love language is 'words of appreciation'. I like it when he notices that I've cleaned up the kitchen or folded the laundry. We pay attention to each other's love languages. We say I love you many times during the day. We hug often. We still love to hold hands. And we remind each other when our love language hasn't been used in a while.

I've Got Your Back

You may recall a few weeks ago I shared a blog post about how I was jealous of the success Dan had in his first week of video game streaming. Thankfully I got over it quickly and realized that it was so important for Dan to have my unconditional support. Because that's what he has given me since we first met. I've been an entrepreneur and business owner since Dan and I got together. He knows I'm a terrible employee. And he has always supported me in all my business decisions (even the bad ones!). Recently I found out that my support for Dan was conditional on him doing something I approved of, as opposed to going for his dream. I'm glad our communication helped me to quickly realize that the way I was acting was not supportive and needed to change.

Now, I'm his biggest fan and love hearing about his success on his stream ( We celebrated his first month as a Twitch Affiliate with a bottle of sparkling wine and we are working together on his goals for growing his audience. I love that I can finally return the unconditional support he has given me all these years.

Being happily married for over a decade takes work. What makes it easier for us is that in our core, we truly love each other and have no desire to be with anyone else while we are here on earth. I am truly grateful that Dan came into my life at the perfect moment in time. I wrote about our story in a previous blog post (on my site).

What's your secret for a happy marriage? What would you add to this list?

Watch this funny clip of Dan during his stream. That would probably be our bonus secret - Dan makes us laugh!! When you listen to the podcast, make sure you listen right to the very end. 

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