Relationship Advice 101: Satisfied Couples Share Wisdom

Real Relationship Advice From Happily Married Couples

Have you ever read a book that talks about a married couple trying to figure out their relationship? Their issues are obvious: lack of communication, misunderstanding, not spending time together… the list goes on. Books like these make us want to jump into the novel, shake their shoulders, and give them ALL the relationship advice. Because, of course, we have all of the answers, right? 😉

Isn’t it so easy to see the flaws and issues in other couples’ marriage relationships? Why is it so hard to see and fix the problems in our own marriages? Then, there are the marriages that appear to be rock solid and long-lasting. How do they do it? Well, we had the same questions, and now we have some real-life relationship advice for you.

Long-lasting married couples share their best relationship advice. | The Dating Divas
Happily married couple smile and dance together

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We reached out to several couples who have been married for 20, 30, 40, and even 50 years, and we asked them to share their secrets to a strong, happy marriage. When we received such a positive response, we knew we couldn’t keep the marriage advice all to ourselves. Keep reading for real-life secrets from couples who know how to make a marriage last.

Marriage Advice: The Secret Ingredients

Think about a time you ate a dessert so rich and delectable it actually made you close your eyes, take a deep breath, and say, “Mmmm…” At that moment, nothing else could possibly compare to the satisfaction you received from that delicious bite. How would you like a marriage that could give you similar satisfaction? Is that even possible?

When baking desserts, recipes often call for exact measurements and steps. If you add too much of one ingredient or completely leave out another, your dessert will not turn out the way it was intended.

Married couples give their secret ingredients to a happy marriage. | The Dating Divas
Happy married couple smiling and sitting on couch

Such is the same with our marriages. If you add too many “unrealistic expectation” ingredients and omit the ingredient of “communication” from your marriage recipe, your end result will not turn out the way you planned it. Fortunately, we have the ability to correct our mistakes and try the recipe again until we have the desired results. Here are some of the secret ingredients our long-lasting married couples shared.

1. Have Realistic Expectations

Do you know those commercials for fast food restaurant hamburgers? The hamburger looks incredible–fluffy, toasted buns, fresh vegetables, and a big, juicy patty. In other words, it’s the perfect burger. You just have to try one of these, right?

However, as you pull your car out of the drive-thru and unwrap the burger of your dreams, you are met with a less-than-desirable sandwich. Sure, it looks like a burger, but does it look like that perfect one you saw on TV? Disappointment inevitably ensues.

Like the commercial hamburger vs. a real-life hamburger, expectations in marriage have to be realistic and achievable. Otherwise, you will be setting yourself up for disappointment. In fact, did you know that according to a National Survey on Marriage in America, over 45% of people surveyed claimed that unrealistic expectations contributed to their divorce? That’s almost half of all divorced couples!

An older couple talk about marriage and give advice on how to make a marriage last. | The Dating Divas
Older married couple kiss in their kitchen

That’s not to say that real happiness and joy can’t be found in marriage. However, unrealistic expectations can contribute to a myriad of disappointments and resentments in a relationship. Here are some examples of realistic expectations and unrealistic expectations found in marriage:

Realistic Expectations: 

  • “Sharing responsibilities around the house.”
  • “Showing respect to each other.” 
  • “Speaking kindly.”
  • “Saying ‘I love you’ often.”
  • “Trusting each other.” 
  • “Honoring each other’s dreams.”

Unrealistic Expectations:

  • “Your spouse is responsible for your happiness.”
  • “Your spouse will complete you.”
  • “The person you married will never change.”
  • “Your spouse’s life should revolve around you.”
  • “All of your time should be spent together.”
  • “Your way is the right way.”
Get helpful marriage advice from older married couples. | The Dating Divas
Older married couple laughing and dancing

Relationship Advice From Long-Lasting Couples Who Know:

  • “When you’re young, and it’s all new, it can be hard facing the reality that this “prince charming” is just a human being–imperfect like the rest of us. True love doesn’t mean never getting on each other’s nerves or always saying and doing the right thing. Life is not a Disney movie, romantic comedy, or YA novel. Life is messy, hard, lonely, and disappointing. It’s going to be 50/50. Sometimes amazing and romantic and sometimes boring and hard work. The struggle doesn’t mean something has gone wrong or something is messed up. Loving each other and showing up for each other even through the struggle is what makes it true love.”
  • “We would all like marriage to be a loving fairy tale with a definite and predictable happily ever after, but we know that’s not how it usually is in real life! Being married takes constant effort, and it takes mindfulness to keep the spark alive.”
  • “Life is really great and really hard, and that’s marriage! But–the good will always be worth the hard times.”
  • “Know that it’s okay to not look like someone else’s marriage.”

Don’t you just LOVE that? Marriage is not going to be a fairy tale, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be true love!

Also, we all seriously need to stop with the unrealistic expectation that another couple’s marriage may be better than our own. And, does it really even matter if it is? Focus on the good and positive, and work to improve your own marriage. Check out this article for more awesome ideas for help with comparing your marriage to others. 

2. Communication is Key

Experts are always preaching that good communication is crucial to a happy marriage; however, that doesn’t make it easy. In a popular comic Pickles, by Brian Crane, a husband (Earl) and wife (Opal) are relaxing on their porch swing at night. Earl turns to Opal and says, “In the moonlight, your teeth look just like pearls.” Annoyed, Opal irritably responds, “Who’s Pearl, and what were you doing in the moonlight with her?!”

As amusing as this comic is, this scene perfectly represents how easily our communication can fail. You and your husband may be talking, but does that mean you have good communication? What is good communication, anyway?

The popular marriage website Power of Two, it explains that in a relationship with good communication, “couples talk freely, openly, and feel safe sharing their most private thoughts. They comfortably and considerately verbalize their concerns and feelings when difficulties arise and voice their positive thoughts when things are good.” So, couples need to communicate when things in their relationship are good and when things are bad.

Long-lasting married couples talk about their secrets to a happy marriage. | The Dating Divas
Older married couple sits on couch and talk about marriage

Relationship Advice From Long-Lasting Couples Who Know:

  • “Communicate with each other, let them know how you feel. Pray together.”
  • “Communication and trust is a big thing for us.”
  • “Talk things over and make decisions together. Accusations and placing blame are never helpful, but a listening ear is!”

Communication in marriage can be hard–you are putting yourself out there and being vulnerable. But trust and love go hand in hand with communication. Love your spouse, and trust that they will handle your feelings with care. And, of course, do the same for your sweetie.

Talk about your feelings, your hopes, your dreams, and your day-to-day life. Talk about silly things, and talk about marriage! If you want more on this subject, we have tons of communication quotes and resources on our site you can check out. 

3. Let Things Go

Oooh… this one is a toughie. Think about all of the times you have stumbled through the dark in the middle of the night and sat down on the toilet seat, just to get the biggest shock as you try not to fall into the water. Why? Because your husband left the toilet seat up for the 1000th time! Or think about the times your wife was home all day, and yet there was still a huge pile of laundry left unfolded on the couch. What was she doing all day?!

How do we let things go that annoy or bother us so much? Especially when you have communicated what you need or want. Our suggestion? Don’t let these little things fester and let them go. Think, “Do I really want to die on this hill?” or “Will my anger or annoyance hurt or help my relationship with my spouse?” 

Married couples find satisfaction in their relationships by letting the little things go. | The Dating Divas
Happy married couple dance in their bedroom

Think of other ways you could look at the situation. Instead of being annoyed the seat was left up, be grateful your husband didn’t leave it down and get the seat all wet. Instead of being frustrated with the clothes on the couch, be grateful your wife took the time to wash the laundry.

We love this advice from an article in Reader’s Digest: “Resist the urge to complain. While it’s irritating, it will undoubtedly happen again… and again… and again. Instead, recite a modified Serenity Prayer: ‘I accept the things I cannot change.’ You’ll be amazed at how quickly your resentment melts away.”

 Relationship Advice From Long-Lasting Couples Who Know:

  • “When I first got married, I learned pretty quickly that my husband doesn’t hold grudges. When someone would do something to upset me, after venting and asking my husband what to do, he would say something like, “Just let it go. It isn’t worth ruining your day, and you will be a happier person for it.” What?! How could I just let things go? The idea was so foreign to me. But watching him and his example of how he dealt with people and situations has helped me learn a better way. It hasn’t been easy, but over the years I have learned to let things just roll off my back. And, the same goes for things that might annoy or bother me about my husband or things he does. Am I perfect at it? No, I still have moments where I hold onto things for too long. But am I happier? Definitely!”
  • “There will always be things that will bug you, but don’t focus on it! Compliment each other! It’ll make you focus on the good and not the things that bug.” 
  • “Before you say something, think to yourself, ‘Is what I say going to be helpful or hurtful?’ If it is hurtful, then don’t say it or think of a way to say it in a helpful way.”
  • “Look for the best in each other, and remember how you felt when you first fell in love.”
  • “Be appreciative of the small things.”

4. Work as a Unified Team

An older couple walk along the beach and talk about marriage. | The Dating Divas
Long-lasting married couple walk barefoot on beach

Think about a time you got in a fight with your spouse. Did you want to talk to your friends, mom, or dad about it? Usually, when we decide to take our frustrations and arguments outside our marriage, we are only trying to validate ourselves. We want someone to tell us that we are right and our spouse is totally in the wrong.

While there are many issues with this, one of the biggest problems when we invite others into our marriage conflicts, is that we aren’t unified with our spouse. We take our team of two players and expand the roster. Now everyone has an opinion and say in our marriage, whether good or bad. That is not teamwork in marriage.

Keep things between the two of you, and stop talking bad about your husband or wife. Work together and stay strong in the decisions you make together as a couple. Teamwork isn’t easy, but it is essential to a happy marriage.

Relationship Advice From Long-Lasting Couples Who Know:

  • “When I was first married, my sister told me, ‘Don’t talk about your fights or things that annoy you about your wife with others. It will only make them think badly about your wife. You will make up and forgive your wife, but it’s harder for others to forget the bad things you told them.’ That was a game-changer for me. When I was upset or frustrated about something, I took it straight to the source, and our marriage has been much better for it. We also make a point to build up and talk about the great things about each other in front of our family members.”
  • “Be patient with each other. Don’t discuss your frustrations or issues with your spouse with family and friends. Talk to your spouse about it.”
  • “Whatever you decide on, like how to spend money or how to discipline kids, stick together and work together. It’s not 50%-50%. It’s 100%-100%–it takes both of you.”

5. Put Each Other First

In a world filled with messages about putting yourself first, the idea of making your spouse a priority can seem really strange. Of course, we recognize the need for self-care in a marriage relationship. After all, the quote “You can’t pour from an empty cup” rings true. However, showing your spouse that their needs are a priority to you will ultimately make your marriage happier.

Think back to the first weeks and months of your relationship. Odds are you were definitely putting your loved one first. You couldn’t stop thinking about them and wanted to spend all of your time together. Life goes on, though the honeymoon ends, and a list of everyday to-dos creep into your daily schedules. Soon, you start to feel like roommates rather than lovers.

Long-lasting married couples find ways to put each other first in marriage. | The Dating Divas
Happy married couple talking while camping

How do you fix it? Start by putting your spouse first. Figure out your spouse’s love language. Then, start to show them love in their way. You might enjoy receiving surprise gifts from your wife, but your wife might need words of affirmation to feel loved.

If you want more reasons why putting your spouse first is so important to your marriage, check out this article on why we should make our spouse a priority. Also, try signing up for our 10 Minute Marriage Challenge. The 10MMC provides the perfect way to easily put your spouse first. We send you weekly text messages so you can immediately have a thoughtful idea to do for your spouse that can be completed in a matter of minutes.

Relationship Advice From Long-Lasting Couples Who Know:

  • “Support your spouse, and put them first. If you’re both doing that, things will work out.”
  • “Think each morning how you can make their life better. If both of you are doing that, then you are focused on each other and not yourself.”
  • “Make your family and their needs priority.”

6. Date Your Spouse

*GASP!* The Dating Divas are telling us to date our spouses?! Shocking! 😉 But, in all seriousness, there are reasons why we believe that regular date nights are so important. Just to name a few, regular date nights can bring validation, excitement, positivity, and romance into our relationships.

Do you want great relationship advice? Continue to date your spouse! | The Dating Divas
Married couple watches movie for date night

Take a look at our site archives to find the dates that will be the best fit for you and your spouse. Our date ideas are often all pre-planned for you, so you can just focus your love and energy on your spouse. Can we mention a few of our favorites for you to check out? Try exploring your city on a Lime Scooter or find new treasures on this garage sale date

Relationship Advice From Long-Lasting Couples Who Know:

  • “Don’t stop dating! Do fun and adventurous things together.”
  • “Never stop dating each other. Be his girlfriend.”
  • “We can’t spend a lot of time together because of his job, so when we do it’s sort of quality time.”
  • “Spend quality time together and go on weekly date nights!”

7. Be Intimate With Your Spouse

We received A LOT of responses regarding intimacy with your spouse, and the responses weren’t only from younger couples. We believe this married couple said it best with this piece of relationship advice: “Sex is the fun part of marriage!”

Many married couples say physical intimacy is important to a happy marriage. | The Dating Divas
Older married couple share physical affection with each other

Isn’t that the truth? And we have a ton of resources to help add some “fun” to your marriage relationship. Also, don’t forget to check out our Sexy Texty subscription! Like the 10MMC, you get sent weekly texts to your phone to help add a little bit more spice into your marriage and between your sheets!

We realize that sex is not the only way to be intimate with your spouse. Emotional intimacy, and non-sexual physical contact is essential to help you feel connected as a husband and wife.

Additionally, for those with children at home, it is so important for them to see you and your spouse show love and affection towards each other. Studies have shown that children are generally happier when their parents give an appropriate example of what a healthy relationship looks like.

So, go ahead and gross your kids out! Make sure to hold hands, snuggle on the couch, and give sweet kisses before bedtime. And, if you’re lucky, those kisses just might turn into something more! 😉

Relationship Advice From Long-Lasting Couples Who Know:

  • “Sex connects you more together and makes you feel like you’re on the same team.”
  • “Try new things together (in and out of bed).”
  • “Buy lingerie.”
  • “Physical contact is so important! Give him a hug ‘just because.’”

How to Have the Perfect Marriage

Do you want great marriage advice? Have fun and be silly with your spouse! | The Dating Divas
Older married couple have fun together on the beach

When we talk about marriage, it’s so easy to say if we do this, that, and the other, we will have the perfect marriage. But it’s simply not the case. Marriage takes practice and hard work. Sometimes, we even need to take a step back, redouble our efforts, or even start again with a new perspective or different tactics.

When we asked real-life couples to give us relationship advice, we got a lot of positive responses. Interestingly, we received many similar responses from several couples stating that their marriages were far from perfect… but they love each other, and they are continuing to try hard every day. Isn’t that what really matters?

So, is your marriage recipe not turning out the way you wanted? Then, why not give some of these secret relationship advice ingredients a try? We think your marriage might turn out to be just as satisfying and long-lasting as you dreamed it would be!

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Chelsea

I have absolutely loved being married to my best friend and favorite person in the world for over 15 years! My hardworking husband and I live in the most beautiful valley in the heart of the Rockies. Only ten minutes away from adventure in any direction, we love to explore the nearby mountains by camping, hunting, off-roading, fishing, hiking, and kayaking with our four energetic kids! I love all things crafty, road trips, and reading everything! Give me a book, a comfy chair, a warm blanket, and a Diet Dr. Pepper - That’s my happy place!

Learn more about Chelsea
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