10 Secrets for a Happy Marriage

From Best Advice on Starting a Happy Marriage

How did this happen? You went from holding a bouquet to handling dirty dishes in about 10 seconds flat. Don't despair! It happens to every bride: Reality sets in. In Best Advice on Starting a Happy Marriage, iVillagers share more than 150 secrets for turning your dream life as husband and wife into an everlasting reality. Read the excerpt below for a sneak peek at 10 ways to keep the passion alive and the house in order. (You'll have to buy the book for the other 140 tips on living happily ever after!)

Respect Rules
"If you don't have admiration for each other, things will not work. Don't let anything get in the way of respecting each other. Growing old together means exactly that, so accept that the body will change and love the person for who he is inside."

Touch of Gold
"Despite our hectic schedules, my husband and I always find time for even the slightest gestures -- a smile, a touch, a quick kiss. He always makes a point of touching me if we're in the same room, just to feel close and make a connection."

Click here to get more advice on how to start your marriage on the right foot:

Agree to Disagree

"Even in the happiest marriages, two people are bound to disagree. On issues that don't affect our daily lives, my husband and I pretty much agree to disagree. We know that we won't always agree, but sometimes it's fun to discuss these things (such as political or religious views). On things that we must agree on, like how to raise our kids, we always discuss them and arrive at a compromise. That way there is no resentment. We just stay calm and always find a way."

Fighting Fair

"Don't be afraid to argue, but do it respectfully. Stick to the issues rather than making personal attacks, and learn to negotiate and compromise. Honest but constructive arguments will actually strengthen your marriage in the long run."

Love Isn't a Battlefield

"Never use sex as a weapon in a dispute with your spouse -- for instance, withholding sex as a way of dealing with an issue that's troubling you. Always keep the lines of communication open. If they shut down, you might want to consider counseling. There are various stages of love in a marriage, so be prepared for your love (and intimacy) to keep shifting over time. Both of you should realize that change is not a reason to look for sexual fulfillment outside of the marriage."

"It's important to discuss having children, not only before you get married but also as an ongoing dialogue after you get married. My husband and I talked about becoming parents while we were still dating. We both knew we wanted children and even agreed on the number. After our third child was born, however, my husband approached me with the idea of not having any more. After a year of thinking about it and discussing it, we came to the conclusion that we were both happy to stop our family at three kids, although we'd originally wanted five. As with everything in marriage, communication is key."

"Financial issues are often what break up a marriage, so it's especially important to talk about money in a productive, honest way. Be as blunt and open with each other as you can so that there is no hidden resentment about how your money is being spent. If one of you is unhappy about the way money is handled in your household, deal with it immediately. Of course, you should always be tactful, but you should also be able to freely discuss your concerns. Don't keep any anxieties to yourself because that won't help either of you. Remember that you're a team."

"My husband had a sudden downturn in his income level, which can be a devastating blow to some men's self-esteem. Many men seem to base their self-worth on how much they earn. I found that reassuring him about all the other qualities I love about him was very helpful. I also reminded him that any money coming into the house was always for both of us, regardless of who earned it."

"Don't whine and complain to your family about your spouse on a regular basis. Keep in mind that your family (and friends) will always -- or at least usually -- side with you even when you're wrong. If you constantly complain about your spouse to your family and friends, they will start to dislike him, which will cause you all sorts of difficulties later."

"When I first got married, I found that I was doing almost everything that needed to be done around the house. Finally I sat down and wrote out a list of what I did and what my husband did, and I showed it to him. He couldn't believe it; he had a very different perception of his contributions. That list opened up a dialogue about the issue, and we were able to split up the tasks in a way that seemed fair to both of us."

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