ASK AN AMIGA: What are your secrets to a happy marriage?

"Marriage is an individualized journey between two people that love each other dearly."  We talk about marriage a lot in our Amiga Facebook group.  Sharing your life with another is tough and a successful marriage takes work, dedication and compromise.  Once the honey moon is over and time takes hold, many of us find ourselves in need of advice on how to make this journey a little bit smoother. 

We decided to take this literally, and opened it up to our Facebook group to start a new series: Ask An Amiga!  

Here is a great sampling of Amiga wisdoms, answering the question: "What is the secret to making a marriage work?”  We have arranged the answers by the length of marriage just for fun...leave us a comment and let us know what works for you and yours!

Advice from the Engaged and Newlyweds

“Something I learned from my mom is that you have to ask for what you want and not expect your partner to read your mind or anticipate all your needs. Another challenge for me is giving up on the fantasy that I can solve all my husband's problems and give him absolute happiness.” Sincerely Lily, 7 months of marriage

 “It must be intentional. You need to wake up every morning and make the intentional decision to be an active, contributing partner to your marriage. It must be intentional. You need to wake up every morning and make the intentional decision to be an active, contributing partner to your marriage.” Sincerely Jessica 

“Mutual respect!” Sincerely Izzy

“OK, now the real secret to making a marriage work: marry someone who is nicer than you are! It has worked well for me, anyway.” Sincerely Kathleen

“Four horsemen that corrode love: criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling and contempt.” Sincerely Jenny

“I think respect for your partner is critical (for the times when you have arguments (especially about child-rearing) it helps to be able to think in the back of your mind that you know they are not a moron. I would also add not being afraid to seek counseling - whether from a professional or religious avenue, it can and does work!” Sincerely Lea

“Get a prenup.” Sincerely Jodi

“Focus on the positive (I.e. The fact that he washed the dishes not that he didn't place them on the drying rack correctly) and validate what your partner feels is important even if you don't think so and honor that which s/he finds important. Often we disregard what our partner values because we think it's silly, impractical or the like, that can make for a constant daily battle.” Sincerely Cynthia, 4 years of marriage

“Put God 1st in your marriage. Work on your marriage daily because marriage takes a lot of work and spending quality time together. Date each other once a week.” Sincerely Erika, 4 years of marriage

“Thank your spouse for taking out the trash or doing the dishes, even if it's something they do every day. It will make them feel appreciate and you will be more aware of the sacrifices your spouse is making.” Sincerely Lindsay, 5 years of marriage

Advice from Couples in Their First 5 Years of Marriage:

“When you're about to lose it because he's done something that makes your blood boil start by remembering that he loves and respects you and would never intentionally upset you, then take a deep breath and tell him that too before starting to talk about the thing that made your blood boil.” Sincerely Andrea, 8 years of marriage

“For us, we are really different people and kind of act like yin and yang. It's balance. And frankly, we make no sense on paper, never have, there's just a lot of love there. People have commented that I can "do better." But it's not about economics, education, or social status. He's just a really great guy and there's love. So sometimes, I think it's more than compatibility.” Sincerely Amanda, 8 years of marriage

“My advice is, when you are having an argument and it is time to end it, just say "I am sorry" and avoid ending the sentence with such trivia as "that I ever laid eyes on you." This advice has saved many a marriage. Sincerely Eliza, 8 years of marriage

“We are reading this book called "Love and Respect" right now with a church small group and one thing that blew my mind was the idea that I should treat my husband with the same respect that I hope my son's wife treats him someday. Ouch. We've been married 8 years and are constantly learning. I also echo the advice about the "Five Love Languages" book. Those two books were/are game changers for our marriage. Sincerely Andrea, 8 years of marriage

“My husband and I met in the Peace Corps. We have been through so much together, but I think we had a LOT of discussions about what we wanted out of our lives before we were even engaged which have helped us later down the road. We have been most stressed when we were tired from the kids or worried about money, but we have always figured out a way to work together to get through the harder times. Also we laugh a lot!” Sincerely Kelsey, 8 years of marriage

“I saw my husband write the sweetest marriage advice to the couple at a wedding we were at together. He wrote something to the effect of "never forget that at some point, you looked at him/her and realized that you didn't want to spend your life without that person". Having been married for 9 years and in the middle of some tricky toddler-rearing ones, it really struck a chord with me. Sincerely Bekki, 9 years of marriage

“Retain some level of individuality. Have something that you each do on your own and apart from one another. It gives you some breathing space and the time to reflect on how much you love them and couldn't live without them.” Sincerely Jen, 9 years of marriage 

Advice from Couples with 10+ Years of Marriage

“Be a team player!” Sincerely Iden, 10 years of marriage

“Timing is everything. Gauge your partner's mood and choose the right time to discuss important issues. It can sometimes be hard to wait when you are anxious to discuss something, but it is better to schedule time to talk when both of you are in a frame of mind to listen to one another.” Sincerely Heather, 12 years of marriage

“Have to accept there are highs and lows, ebbs and flows. After the infatuation wears off, we realize at the end of the day we are just human and we usually show our worst to those we are closest to. So important to be compatible and have a lot of common ground and actually enjoy each other's company. Guys need respect, respect, respect. Learn each other's love language. Get counseling when needed. Sometimes a 3rd opinion is helpful to work things out. Premarital counseling is super important. It'll make you talk about sensitive issues like money and gender roles. Sincerely Abigail, 12 years of marriage

“I agree with all of the above. I will also add. Date your spouse! Dating your spouse is crucial to a happy marriage. Treat it like any other appointment...put it on the calendar. We tend to forget the "couple" especially when the kids come. Date nights are fun, build communication and it is a de-stressor.” Sincerely Dahlia, 12 years of marriage

“When you are young and broke and still in formation and rise up together. Never forget what it was like to be broke. Make sure home and family is number one and you and your partner equally take care of the home and chores. (I'm lazier so I'm working on making sure I do my share.). Sincerely Sarah, 13 years of marriage

“It’s important to not take each other for granted, to give each other space for your own interests/time, communication and trust.” Sincerely Maxine, 13 years of marriage

“Love is essential, but not sufficient, to make a marriage work. You also need respect and kindness, and to show each other that mutual love, respect, and kindness every day. Some days doing that takes a real effort of will. And some days, one or both of you will fall short. But the daily choice to treat each other with love, respect, and kindness is everything.” Sincerely Kathleen, 14 years of marriage

“I think most of what was described HAPPENS if you truly LOVE each other and are compatible. I mean, I don't do them (respect, admiration, compromise etc.) intentionally and consciously but they happen because I love my husband and the two of us are a good team. You can't get married till you finish your studies and find a job that can support you as a couple” Sincerely Thushanti, 14 years of marriage

Advice from Couples with 15+ Years of Marriage

“Get to know each other well before you're married! Live together! Know each other families well! Talk about money and children and religion and politics and everything else imaginable before you tie the knot.” Sincerely Jeannie, 17 years of marriage

“I don’t think that there is any magic formula. Of course, love, kindness, humor, dedication and honesty are all in there. But I think that every marriage is as different as we all are from each other. And the combination of two unique individuals into a couple creates a body that is as unique as the people that went into it. Sincerely Ava, 17 years of marriage

“Have fun together. As often as you can put all the stress of daily life away and just enjoy being together, preferably without the kids.” Sincerely Nancy, 19 years of marriage

“Forgive the little things. Mutual respect and admiration. I try to put my spouse before the kids (especially now that they're teens). Dates and vacations without the kids help remind us of why we fell in love 20 + years ago.” Sincerely Helene

Advice from Couples with 20+ Years of Marriage

“Listen with compassion, and be sure you each understand each other’s feelings.” Sincerely Julia, 22 years of marriage

“My best advice is let yourself be loved despite your self- imposed guilt of being an ambitious woman. My husband is my law partner and my biggest supporter.” Sincerely Michelle, 25 years of marriage

“Trust - you've got to trust your partner. Always. You've got to work at making the marriage work. There are always great times and sometimes there are really shitty times. But if you love & trust each other you can keep moving forward together. Sincerely Ana, 28 years of marriage

Advice from Couples with 30+ Years of Marriage (aka the Experts)

“I'll just say stay in touch, pray together, and enjoy each other's company. (And don't freak out when your kids become teenagers.)” Sincerely Melinda, 33 years of marriage

“Be sure you share the same values and, above all, sense of humor!” Sincerely Helen, 37 years of marriage