Mar 222016 4 Responses

9 Choices Happy Couples Make

We control far more than we realize. While there are times in which it feels like life is happening to us–a bad diagnosis, a tragic accident, being laid-off, a turn in the economy–far more often life is a byproduct of the decisions we make.

Some live in continual denial of this truth and suffer because of it. Some embrace this truth and are empowered by it.

Happy couples are happy because of the choices they make. Their satisfaction has little to do with the things they can’t control. While circumstances beyond their control may influence their immediate sense of contentment, their overall sense of well-being is determined by themselves and not outside circumstances.

Those decisions can be narrowed down.

9 Choices Happy Couples Make

1. They choose to be intentional. They know a good marriage isn’t an accident. It is a byproduct of hard work and wise choices. This is the fundamental decision of marriage. By choosing intention in all things, a couple is taking control of their relationship. They are refusing to be passive within their own story. They are determining to create the relationship and life they desire. Every other choice flows from this one. (See: One Word That Changed My Marriage)

2. They choose to be happy. Their happiness is not determined by external circumstances. Their sense of identity and satisfaction comes internally. They define themselves. Happy couples are happy individuals. They bring their individual happiness to the marriage rather than expecting their spouse to make them happy. This doesn’t mean they are happy all the time, but their general disposition in life is bent toward contentment and happiness.

3. They choose to live below their means. No matter their income, they don’t spend more than they make. The margin in their budget prevents stressing over money and frees them from the shackles of debt. Saving, no matter how small the amount, gives the couple a sense of control over their financial state. Happy couples know they only have two financial choices: they can either determine how much money they need and find a way to make that amount or they know how much they make and they ensure they spend less than that. When money isn’t a point of contention within a relationship, happiness is much more attainable.

4. They choose to be two and one. Each spouse maintains their individual identity while proudly being a part of something beyond themselves. Each person is both “me” and “we. Each spouse has individual likes, dislikes, opinions, desires, ambitions, friends, and activities. But they also share common friends, dreams, pursuits, and a mutual identity.

5. They choose to communicate well. Communication is a process. We must learn to listen, read body language, understand tone, and determine context. We have to be willing to speak when we are tempted to remain silent, to keep quiet when we desire to speak. Good communication requires courage, humility, and a continual trial and error. It’s most expressed in times of tension. Instead of avoiding difficult topics or blowing up at one another, happy couples learn to listen, talk, negotiate, and find a common ground in order to move forward.

6. They choose to respect one another and the institution of marriage. Respect is both earned and given. While a basic level of respect is given to any person because they are a human being, another level of respect is given as someone proves themselves worthy of respect. Happy couples work hard to treat their spouse with respect and to earn their spouse’s respect. They honor the boundaries of one another and others. They act like married people–being one another’s first person, carefully communicating to others their allegiance to one another, and honoring one another both publicly and privately.

7. They choose to nourish a satisfying sex life. This doesn’t happen naturally. It takes effort, forethought, learning from failure, and practice. It requires one to be open about their thoughts and desires. It demands trust and vulnerability. It calls for changes throughout the seasons of marriage. They seek to understand themselves and their spouse. Differences in drives and desires are not judged, but explored and appreciated. (See: One Tip to Improve Married Sex)

8. They choose to be good parents. This choice doesn’t guarantee they will have great kids. Each person has to make their own decisions and that includes kids. However, by choosing to be good parents they determine to put one another before their kids. They determine to love their children even when it doesn’t feel loving. They choose to be on the same team when it comes to raising children.

9. They choose to live for a higher purpose. Happy couples are content with one another, but they see their relationship as also having a higher purpose. They benefit communities, extended family, and bring glory to God. By living beyond themselves, each spouse can value personal desires without being selfish. They can place what they want in a larger picture of who they want to be.

Repeated Choices

Each of these choices are important to a happy marriage, but they do not happen in one moment. While it is important to have a pivotal moment in which you choose to do or be each of these things, for a happy marriage, a couple must continually make these choices. Every day they must recommit themselves to living the choices they have made. (See: Predictability–a Byproduct of a Happy Marriage)

Happy couples do not simply make nine choices. They make these nine choices over and over again throughout their lives. They make thousands of choices, but many of them can be narrowed down to these nine basic decisions.

4 Responses to 9 Choices Happy Couples Make
  1. Sarah Reply

    Thank you for all your blogs on Marriage! They’ve been really encouraging to read as a single person who finds marriage rather daunting.

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  4. R Reply

    I cheated on my partner and I’m reading this and feeling so bad about it.

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