Cultivating a Happy Marriage: What’s the Secret?

What do you picture when you imagine a happy marriage? Some people think of financial security, a nice house, physical beauty, good health, high-profile careers, a thriving social life, or societal status. Others picture a quiet life, surrounded by comfort, children, and extended family.

In reality, a couple’s wellbeing has little to do with material wealth or external circumstances. While these things can lend themselves to a happy life, the real key to happiness in marriage is adopting and maintaining a good attitude together. Because life can turn on a dime, we can’t rely on externals to keep us happy. The real work is an inside job.

Today, we’re sharing some ways you and your spouse can create an enduring, positive attitude–and a happy marriage. Let’s dive in!

Be Adaptable

If you want your marriage to be a happy one, you and your spouse will have to master the ability to be adaptable to your changing circumstances–particularly if they’re unpleasant or out of your control. Happy couples have learned to work together to adopt a positive mindset when faced with issues that they can’t influence.

Life is unpredictable; you never know what each day will bring. You’ll experience good times and bad times together. If you can’t weather storms and rise above unfortunate circumstances, you’ll never find the happiness you both desire.

Being adaptable means being able to cultivate contentment, no matter what’s happening around you. In order to build that contentment, work together to nurture a positive attitude in your marriage. Do your best to banish negativity and put your focus on the good things that are happening in your life. In the end, positivity will enable you to adapt to life more readily.

Don’t Sabotage Your Happiness

In our years of working with couples, we’ve seen three major happiness saboteurs over and over again. Think of these as the three big DON’Ts of marriage:

  • Blaming: Spouses have been casting blame on one another since Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent. When you blame your spouse, what you’re really doing is trying to dodge responsibility for your own unhappiness by placing it on him or her. And when your spouse (predictably) reacts angrily to your accusation, that sparks a cycle of anger, blame, and more anger.
  • Feeling Sorry for Yourself: When you wallow in self-pity, it can eventually consume your life. Complaining becomes your primary form of communication with one another, and eventually with your friends and family. Spouses who feel sorry for themselves make their spouses miserable, and self-pitying couples make their friends and families miserable. Your marriage can’t be happy if you’re stuck in self-pity.
  • Resenting Your Spouse: It’s normal to feel pain, anger, and disappointment when you’re treated unfairly, especially by your spouse. But brooding and holding onto those negative emotions will eventually create resentment. And when you allow resentment to thrive, it grows under the surface of your marriage like cancer.

If any of these issues has already become rooted firmly in your life, you may need to seek professional counseling in order to change your patterns. It will take some time, healing, and hard work to change track, but it will be worth it. Keep your marriage free of blame, self-pity, and resentment, and you’re well on your way to lifelong happiness.

Remember You’re in Control

You and your spouse are in control of your happiness because marriage itself doesn’t make you happy. Instead, you make your marriage happy.

Having unrealistic expectations about marriage will ultimately make you miserable. We can’t afford to think of marriage as the magic bullet that solves all our problems and keeps us blissfully happy for the rest of our lives. Instead, accept that you’re both humans with flaws. It takes both of you, flaws and all, to create that fulfilling, lifelong bond you’re longing for.

How have you and your spouse cultivated happiness in your marriage? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments section below.


  • DonnaraeSchwartz says:

    This was great information. Thank you for sharing.

  • TAWANA says:


  • CG says:

    Needed to be reminded, thank you!

  • Tee says:

    Thank you for this timely reminder.
    God bless!

  • Jill Brewer says:

    We have taken many classes at church to focus on ourself..we found that what we thought was caused by the other was really an issue formed long before we married. When we focus on ourself and how WE can better it vs the other and think om the positive things like yall said it really helps! Thank you for these emails btw, they are great tools and encouragement!
    Bless you both.

  • Amy koehn says:

    Very practical! Useful for each of us no matter how long we’ve been married! We must continue to grow on purpise!!

  • jeanne says:

    I have a spouse who works every single day (and sometimes night), and loves his job. He makes no apology for it, and I feel like his job is his lover, and I am expected to sit and wait for him to dole out a scrap of time for me. This is life as I know it, and has been for 35 years. I cannot compete with his other love. All I get are crumbs. Yes, I blame him. Yes, I feel sorry for myself. And yes, I am resentful and angry.

    • Tom Reed says:

      I empathize with your situation. Enduring for 35 years is a lot of investment, without much in return. I was, and to some extent, still struggle with “working” to make a living. I am 68 years old with 8 children and ten grandchildren.
      My oldest child is 47, my youngest twin boys
      are 3 years old. 😮😮
      I am sharing this, to say that I have flaws, but I am trying to change to spend more quality time with my spouse and all my children.
      I pray that God will bless you. I pray that you will be able to find the love that God has for you.

  • Katie says:

    I’m stuck in a rut in my relationship. We are both disappointed in the other. I’ve thought about divorce many times,but I also realize that is not the answer. I’ve been married 22 years to the same guy. I’ve changed and matured at a much faster rate then he has. I’ve always been a type A personality. He retired at mid forties and turned very religious. I’m not religious at all and never have been. I thought it would be another 20 years before he retired,but he’s all about living the humble life and living as a warrior for GOD now. Don’t get me wrong,my husband is a great guy. I still care,but I don’t feel like I used to feel about him. He’s critical of things I watch on tv,books I read,etc. We can’t have a conversation now without the Bible being quoted. He tells me that his church friends pray for me to become a good Christian wife to him. He doesn’t try to fix his own problems anymore,but drops to his knees in prayer and asks GOD to fix things for him or gets on the phone and asks his church friends to pray for him. I ask him if that works. He will admit not like he expected it to but GOD has a plan for him and us.

    • Carol Ann says:

      It sounds like you both have a lot going on in your couple relationship. .Les and Leslie have made some great topical videos that you and your spouse will find very helpful. They can be found on their website At the top of the website you will see Video Tips. Hope you find some topics that are of interest. I also encourage you to once more read the above article about cultivating a happy marriage….there is a lot of wisdom there!

    • Maggie says:

      Katie that is a great thing that he turned religious and don’t be afraid to discover what is God’s plan for both of you. Many women pray for their husbands to become a true Christian. Your husband has discovered the love of God, he wants to share that with you so open your mind to an excellent journey with him. If you do you you will never regret it and you and your husband will be more united than ever and really become one true Flesh. God wants that for both of you cause he is Love and God wants both of you to experience that wonderful journey together. Good luck and blessings to both of you.

      • Wsyne says:

        Well said. Without God we would not know to follow Jesus I don’t mean we walk around with a cross over our shoulders but He is an excellent guide which leads us to greater contentment and better decisions than we would make on our own. Worked for 50 years.

  • Patrick B. says:

    “you make your marriage happy.” I disagree. A marriage’s happiness is dependent upon two people working together. One person, alone, cannot make for a happy marriage.
    Abe Lincoln is purported to say, “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” Which means, yes, I’m in charge of my happiness. But I am not in charge of my marriage’s happiness. One person can decide to be happy in spite of the state of the marriage.

    • Doulos says:

      Interesting insight. I read it as, you (plural) make your (plural) marriage (singular) happy.

      • Dawn says:

        I read it as a plural as well..I think the interpretation of a statement, is dependent on whether you’re in a positive or negative place in your marriage or any relationship for that matter..interesting indeed.

  • The best one yet. Thank you.

  • Important information. I would like to share your blog with friends. It looks very awesome.

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