Raise your hand if you’re in your thirties and never heard of the movie Forrest Gump. That’s what I thought—not one hand! One of my favorite lines from that movie goes like this:
My momma always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.—Forrest Gump
Certain chocolates are needed for a happy and healthy marriage in your thirties:
- Talk and listen
- Consult one another
- Dream together
- Don’t skip self-care
- Make intimacy a priority
I’d describe marriage like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates if you buy the thrifty box of chocolates as I do without the little cheat sheet under the lid saying what’s what. It comes in a beautiful box, and everything is sugar-coated. You think you know what you’re biting into, that is, until you take a bite. SURPRISE! What you thought would be delicious chocolate-covered coconut turns out to be raspberry nougat.
Ooooooo, it must’ve tasted gross! Quite the contrary, though. That raspberry nougat might be your version of consulting your spouse, and maybe that’s something to which you’re not accustomed—it could be an acquired taste. Give your taste buds a chance to show you what it’s all about, and raspberry nougat might very well be your new favorite flavor. You could have been missing out all this time and not even known it.
Okay, the chocolate analogy has gone far enough! I’m saying that forming good habits for a happy and healthy marriage in your thirties can be surprising and even enjoyable.
To find someone who will love you for no reason, and shower that person with reasons, is the ultimate happiness.—Robert Brault
That quote hit me the moment I finished reading it. The true spirit of giving is what will bring you the most joy and happiness in this life. Giving will provide you with the foundation needed for a happy and healthy marriage in your thirties!
Do not toss aside kindness towards your wife (or husband!) just because you’ve grown comfortable with her. If your wife, the one you freely chose to spend the rest of your life with, is not deserving of kindness, then who is?
Kindness isn’t given as a means to an end. It is freely given out of the love and respect you have for the dignity of your wife. The more often you are kind and giving towards your wife, the stronger your bond of marriage.
A few kindness examples for you:
- Be respectful and use your manners when speaking to one another.
- Be chivalrous and open doors for her.
- Hold her hand as you cross a street.
- Compliment her when you introduce her to your friends or colleagues. You could say, “This is my beautiful bride (insert wife’s name here).” My wife blushes when I do this, and she loves it!
- Protect and defend her when someone is unkind to her.
- Show gratitude when she does things for you, like making your meal, cleaning your clothes, and keeping the kids alive for one more day.
- Tell her what you love about her, take her on a date, even if it’s a stay-at-home date.
2. Talk and listen
Due to busy schedules, my wife and I may not have time to share our days with each other for days or even weeks. We have enough time to share the important pieces of news, but that’s about it some days.
Find the time to talk to your spouse genuinely. Don’t hide your emotions because you think that is what a man does. It’s unhealthy for your soul, and it will not foster a happy and healthy marriage in your thirties.
Some of the most profound and bonding moments my wife and I have had are the times when we have shared our most vulnerable feelings. As husband and wife, we do not judge one another. We accept that we are both human, and we have a full range of emotions that we respect.
Don’t just talk, but listen. Your wife doesn’t always want you to solve the problem. Sometimes she just wants you to share in her experience and be present for her. Other times she may just need someone to vent to and be done. Be upfront and ask, “Do you want me to help fix it, or just listen?” We aren’t mind readers, so be honest because that is what you expect of her. Effective communication with your spouse is one of the pieces of chocolates needed for a happy and healthy marriage in your thirties.
3. Consult one another
Simply put, make decisions together. That doesn’t always mean you’ll be able to sit down over a cup of coffee and discuss every decision. You can, however, make it a priority to discuss the important ones with your spouse.
Some evenings I have meetings for different groups, some mandatory and some not. Sometimes I don’t remember to tell Angela about them until an hour before the meeting starts. That is my fault. Since it’s my fault, I give her the option that I won’t go if she needs me to stay home.
Ultimately, Angela will tell me to go unless she isn’t feeling well enough to care for the kids. By discussing it with her first, I am respecting her, and that is why she freely gives me her blessing to go to the meetings.
If it concerns spending a fair amount of money on something Angela thinks we need, she’ll talk with me first about it. So many folks don’t have a happy and healthy marriage in their thirties because of money. It may be “our” money, but that doesn’t mean we each can spend it all willy-nilly without the other’s consent. We agreed years ago to start sticking to our budget, and consulting one another about spending outside of our typical budget is part of our agreement.
Angela was planning our son’s 3rd birthday bash! He is a leap year baby, so he was actually turning 12. We decided we wanted to celebrate in a bigger than usual way. In case you missed our About Us page, we’re a family of seven—as of now. Throw a few school friends in the mix, and the dollars start added up quickly! After thoroughly researching options we thought our son might like, we discussed pricing and what would best fit our needs and budget.
Angela indeed could’ve booked the whole thing without my input. She knows how upset that would make me for two reasons. First, she knows I want to be involved in planning our son’s special day—especially when laser tag is involved! Second, she knows I would’ve had a conniption if I saw the credit card bill without being prepared for the cost of the party.
Consulting one another on the big and even small things help create a happy and healthy marriage in your thirties. Some Sunday’s Angela helps me figure out what to wear. Other days I help her simmer down and not make a rash decision based on her feelings. Talk it out and do it together.
4. Dream together
If you want a happy and healthy marriage in your thirties, then dream with your spouse. Realistic or fantasy—it doesn’t matter.
We discuss our dream goals. What if we one day fell into millions of dollars? We talk about what we’d do with it all, think of all the people we could help, and all of the joy and hope we could bring to others.
We dream about designing our house if we had an endless supply of green paper to do it with! We very well know we have a budget to stick to, and that is just fine too. It is fun to dream, though! In dreaming together, you often discover things about your spouse that you didn’t know before—things to bond over, things to bring you closer together as a married couple.
Angela will often tell me how happy she is thinking of us together on a beach somewhere—enjoying the sounds of the ocean, the warmth of the sun, just us. We talk about what fun things we would do or where we would visit if we could take a beachy vacation together, just us.
It’s not selfish to want a little one-on-one time with your spouse, and it helps create a happy and healthy marriage in your thirties. After over a decade of marriage and kids being part of that for the better part of it, having one-on-one vacation time sounds like a dream come true!
5. Don’t skip the self-care
My wife and I are both strong, able, and can just keep going without knowing when to stop for our own good. The thing is, you need to know when to stop. We’ve both figured that out as we have gone through life and marriage.
After my 9-5 is put in for the day, I head straight home to my family, whom I love! I’d be lying if I said my kids didn’t wear me out. It’s not just the kids, but all of their extracurriculars. Throw family get-togethers in the mix on top of an endless mountain of to-dos, and it’s enough to make your head spin!
Head spinning, feeling like you’re drowning, or being crushed by the weight of life are all signs that you need a break. Ask yourself, “What do I enjoy that is just for me?” Angela and I are very different in this way, but we’re still managing to have a happy and healthy marriage in our thirties. I’m a complete introvert and having time away from everyone is my recharge. Angela is very much an extrovert and would prefer to hang out with a friend she hasn’t seen in a while.
Talk with your spouse about scheduling some much-needed time each month for a quick recharge. You are not just your job and family. These things are part of you and are God’s gift to you. To take care of these gifts, you must also be right with yourself.
Being able to better my soul and disconnect from the everyday stresses turns me into a better version of myself. A better Joe makes for a better father to my children and a better husband to my beautiful bride.
6. Make intimacy a priority.
I won’t go into personal details here, but intimacy is essential in each marriage and in different ways at different times.
You need to find a happy balance between what you need and your spouse’s needs if you want a happy and healthy marriage in your thirties. There was a time when our marriage lacked intimacy. Our marriage was a lobster in a slow-boiling pot of water. We didn’t realize we were slowly killing our marriage because of a lack of intimacy.
Some love to be complimented, hugged, touched, and kissed for no apparent reason other than to be shown a sign of affection. Some want to save it for the bedroom. For a happy and healthy marriage in your thirties to work, take the time to discover what your spouse needs in this department.
Verbal affection can be just as important as physical affection. No one wants to feel as though they are being used. Make an effort to compliment and flirt with your spouse whenever possible. Even a cheesy one-liner to your wife can make her laugh and feel good about herself, and that can be just as valuable as physical touch. Other than compliments and flirting, discussing deeply held personal beliefs, fears, and aspirations can also be a very intimate experience for your marriage.
Don’t pass these moments up out of fear of judgment. Embrace them, as you would your spouse, and create a happy and healthy marriage in your thirties.