50 Best Marriage Tips of All Time, According to Relationship Experts
This advice from therapists will help you and your spouse stay happily ever after.
If you want your marriage to make it, you need to devote time, effort, and energy to your spouse, no matter how new or old your partnership is. So, to help you keep your promise to live happily ever after, we talked to therapists and relationship experts—and consulted tons of research—to gather the best pieces of marriage advice we could find. Whether it's simply saying "I love you" before leaving the house or being open to couples counseling, these tips will set you up for a happy and healthy relationship for years to come.
The 50 Best Pieces of Marriage Advice
1. Never leave the house without saying goodbye.
Don't forget to give your spouse a hug and a kiss before you leave for work. It doesn't take more than a few seconds and can make a big difference in your relationship.
2. When bringing up a complaint or criticism, start with a compliment first.
Nobody enjoys hearing about the things they're doing wrong, even when it's necessary.
"When you need to express criticisms or frustrations with your partner, start with a compliment first," says dating and relationship coach Rosalind Sedacca.
"It's also smart to end with a reminder of something else you like about them," she adds. Doing so, "puts the negative statements in perspective"
3. Use laughter to your advantage.
Even in tense situations, sometimes all you need is a moment of levity to change the tone of the conversation.
"If something frustrating is happening, try easing the tension with a bit of humor," suggests Tessina. "Don't poke fun at your mate, but use shared humor as a way to say, 'I know this is tough, but we'll get through it.' Your partner will think of you as someone soothing and helpful to have around when problems happen."
4. Split the household chores evenly.
Make sure that it's not just you or just your spouse who is taking care of your household. One 2013 study published in the Journal of Family Issues found that couples were happier when they shared household and child-rearing duties.
Conversely, a 2022 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that women found men less sexually attractive when they did not do their fair share of chores.
5. And also split the mental labor.
Lisa Lawless, PhD, CEO of Holistic Wisdom, adds that it's important to take the initiative to do chores and coordinate plans, instead of your partner having to ask.
"While it is reasonable to coordinate tasks and communicate about them, no partner should not be put into the role of a parent," she explains. "A true partner will not just carry their share of responsibilities but also assume their share of the mental load."
"For example, if a couple were to take a trip, it would not just include the job of making the reservations but the mental load of planning the details around the trip, such as transportation, packing, household arrangements such as stopping mail or having the plants watered, etc.," she shares.
6. Prioritize self-care and personal growth.
You've probably heard people say that in order to be a good partner, you have to first take care of yourself (we'll spare you the oxygen mask metaphor here). Turns out, it's true.
"Prioritizing self-care and personal growth is essential for maintaining a healthy and fulfilling marriage," shares hypnotherapist, life coach, and psychotherapist Susan Hepburn.
"This can be as simple as the couple leaving time for themselves to engage in activities that bring them joy and relaxation, such as practicing mindfulness, pursuing hobbies, or enjoying a leisurely walk," she explains. "By dedicating time to their well-being, married couples can recharge their energy and enhance their overall happiness, which in turn positively influences their marriage."
7. Don't sweat the small stuff.
No relationship is perfect and there will always be minor things your spouse does that irk you, but that doesn't mean they warrant a serious discussion.
"You can let his/her bad habits bother you to distraction—or you can accept them and work around them," Tessina says. "Does she leave the cap off the toothpaste? Buy separate tubes. Does he leave clothes laying around? Ignore them, or pick them up, remembering just how much he does for you in other ways."
8. Take time to check in.
When life gets busy it can be all too easy for you and your partner to become like two ships passing in the night. This is why Susan Trotter, PhD, relationship and dating expert and coach, says it's so important to carve out time to check in with each other.
"It can be something as small as doing 10-minute check-ins with each other at the end of the day, not focused on the to-do list but more about how they're each feeling and doing," she explains. "It can also be a bigger approach, such as going on a date night or getting a weekend away."
"Taking time for the relationship will help to strengthen trust, connection, and intimacy, and that will have a ripple effect on other parts of the relationship," she adds. "It also helps to 'fill the bucket' of goodwill, so that when there are challenges in the relationship, there is a strong foundation from which to address them."
9. Have calm conversations rather than heated arguments.
It's natural to get angry sometimes. But having a discussion with your spouse, instead of an argument, is healthier in the long run.
A 2012 UCLA study found that those who argued angrily were more likely to be divorced 10 years later than those who hashed things out civilly.
Laura Wasser, relationship expert and chief of divorce evolution at Divorce.com, recommends keeping arguments "clean."
"When you're in the heat of the moment, avoid name-calling, resist bringing up past mistakes, and most importantly, never, ever fight to win," Wasser explains. "You're not in a boxing ring, and your partner is not your opponent."
10. Don't throw around the word "divorce."
Another thing you'll want to avoid when arguing is throwing around the idea of "divorce" just to hurt your partner or make a point.
If you've said it more than once to your partner, they may even start to check out of the relationship, Madden warned. "This isn't done because she or he doesn't love you; it is simple self-preservation."
11. And if you get upset or angry, take a minute before responding.
So, how do you avoid things escalating to the point of fighting angrily? When you and your spouse are frustrated, "take a few minutes to walk around the block, lay down, [or] just get away from each other so you can regroup," says Tessina.
"A short break will allow you both to stay on track and discuss what's bothering you instead of accidentally making personal insults that you will regret later," she explains.
12. Move "toward" each other.
One of Trotter's biggest marriage tips comes from John Gottman, PhD, and his wife, Julie Schwartz Gottman, PhD, co-founders of the Gottman Institute.
One of the Gottmans' research-based observations is that in any given situation, a couple has three choices about how to respond: They can move away from each other, against each other, or toward each other. And Trotter says it's helpful in a relationship to consciously choose the final option.
"It can be something like acknowledging what your partner has said and asking if you can discuss it more later, or it can be something bigger like giving your partner a hug in the middle of a fight to let them know that you're a team, in this together and have a common goal of understanding and resolution," she explains.
13. Change things up to avoid boredom.
Conflict isn't the only thing that can make your marriage turn sour. According to a 2009 University of Michigan study, boredom is a serious issue for married couples, too. So you should do your best to pepper your routine with some moments of unpredictability.
"Go on surprise dates, try new hobbies together, cook a meal together, or have a spontaneous dance party in your living room," suggests Wasser. "These little moments of joy strengthen your bond and keep the spark alive."
14. Don't stop going on dates.
"Never stop dating," says certified emotional intelligence coach Bradley K. Ward, PCC.
He notes that you can easily keep your relationship as fun and as loving as it was at the start simply by treating it exactly like you did then.
15. But make certain topics off-limits during date night.
When you have kids, it can be nearly impossible to find alone time. So, when you do make it out, use the "BEWIK" rule to establish topics that are off-limits: bills, exes, work, in-laws, and kids.
"This helps couples remember why they fell in love in the first place," says Michael Bloomberg, whose program, Date-night-ology, is designed to help couples reconnect.
16. Be sure to ditch the phones, too.
During date night, make an effort to keep your cell phone in your pocket.
"Give your date the priority of your time and your full attention they—and your relationship—deserve," says Los Angeles-based licensed marriage and family therapist David Strah. If you have kids, he suggests giving the babysitter a special ringtone in case of an emergency.
17. Also, when you go out, try to look nice.
"Make an effort for your partner [on date night]," suggests Strah. "Wear something that shows you care about how you look. Dress as if you are trying to catch their eye and reel them in again." A little effort goes a long way in rekindling that spark!
18. But don't try to change your spouse.
There is a huge difference between supporting your spouse as they work on making healthy changes and asking them to be someone they're not.
"You may support your partner in an attempt to make a change, and you may change together. But what's misguided is the idea that you can push your husband or wife to change in the direction you have chosen for him or her," Pillemer writes.
"People who finally accept their mate for who and what they are, rather than seeing them as a do-it-yourself project, find the experience liberating—and are much more likely to have happy and satisfying relationships for decades," he adds.
19. Foster a friendship.
We're schooled early on to think of friendship and romantic love as different. However, what makes friendships work are the same things that make a marriage work.
"We look forward to being with friends, we relish their company, we relax with them, we share common interests, and we talk openly," Pillemer writes in his book.
During his research, one 87-year-old told him, "Think back to the playground when you were a child. Your spouse should be that other kid you would most like to play with!"
20. Reminisce about the good times often.
The next time you want to make your spouse smile, remind them of a time when the two of you were happy as ever.
"'Remember when…' is a great beginning to a loving conversation. It creates so much good feeling to remember how you were when you were dating, when you got married, when you first bought your house, when you had your first child, etc.," says Tessina. "Reminding yourselves of your solid history together is a way to increase your bond."
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21. Understand that love changes over time—and embrace that change.
The way you feel about your spouse is bound to change over time as you both evolve as people. And if you want your marriage to last, you need to embrace this change rather than try to turn back time.
"Quality relationships include the understanding that the definition and conceptualization of love constantly changes," explains clinical psychologist Stephanie J. Wong, PhD. "Many people associate love with the 'butterflies' that occur when first dating someone. As time goes on, you may still get butterflies, but it can also evolve to mutual respect, an advanced understanding of each other's likes and dislikes, and appreciating a partner's strengths."
22. And make an effort to grow together, not apart.
"Never use the worn-out saying, 'We are just growing apart,'" warns Stacey Greene, author of Stronger Than Broken: One Couple's Decision to Move Through an Affair. "All of humankind is constantly growing, changing, and evolving. You can choose to grow together by changing, growing, and evolving as a couple."
23. Leave little love notes around the house.
People love to feel appreciated. And if you want to make your spouse feel extra special, an easy way to do so is with little love notes scattered around the house.
"Whether you write 'I love you' in a lipstick heart on the bathroom mirror, leave a bright pink Post-It note on their car window, or handwrite a real love letter that you cover in heart stickers and spray with perfume, it is nice for your partner to receive something sweet that they can keep as a memento," says marriage and family therapist Christine Scott-Hudson.
24. Text your spouse to remind them how much you love them.
Texting shouldn't be the preferred method of communication in any relationship. However, when it comes to your marriage, it pays to send sweet nothings via SMS every now and again.
As Best Life previously explained, sending texts like "Just thinking about you," "I love you," or "Can't wait to see you later" during the day can be a great way to stay connected with your partner.
"A simple 'I love you' text is often enough to create a positive, connective energy that lasts throughout the day," shared Carla Marie Manly, PhD, a practicing clinical psychologist and relationship expert.
In fact, a 2013 study published in the Journal of Couples & Relationship Therapy showed that texting affectionate messages was positively associated with relationship satisfaction.
25. Take responsibility for your actions.
Mood swings and angry outbursts happen to the best of us. However, what differentiates a good spouse from a bad one is owning up to those not-so-great days and learning from them.
"If you have a bad day, don't blame it on your partner, your boss, or traffic. Remember that your moods and feelings are your responsibility," says Scott-Hudson. "In healthy marriages, each partner owns their own feelings, behaviors, and moods. They don't blame anyone else for their bad moods—they take ownership instead."
26. Argue to resolve rather than to win.
"One thing that can stop a fight in its tracks is to remember that you are on the same team," says Scott-Hudson. "Don't go for the low blow or say the inflammatory thing that will only further serve to upset and hurt your partner. You love them. You are a team. Act like it. Think, 'What would resolve this as a win for both of us?'"
27. Never judge your spouse.
Your spouse fully expects any conversation they have with you to be judgment-free. When your significant other comes to you for advice or even just for a venting session, it's vital that you listen to them not just attentively, but also openly.
"Communication involves being empathetic, nonjudgmental, and selfless when your partner needs your help," says Tiffany C. Brown, PsyD, owner of mental health clinic Family First Counseling.
28. Learn how to actually apologize.
If you want your marriage to last, then you need to learn how to apologize and actually mean it.
"An apology signifies that you have insight into your behaviors and that you see your role in the situation," says Brown.
And make sure that it's not always you or always your spouse having to say sorry. "If one partner is always the person apologizing, this is an imbalance in the relationship and will lead to problems in the marriage," she explains.
29. And don't forget about romantic gestures.
Sometimes saying "I'm sorry" won't cut it, which is where romantic gestures—like planning a date night or putting on one of their favorite movies—come in.
"All too often, apologies are used as a quick, meaningless way to escape a partner's hurt or angry feelings," clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, PhD, previously explained to Best Life. "When a thoughtful romantic gesture is offered as part of the 'apology package,' connection and trust tend to be restored more quickly and thoroughly."
30. Don't be afraid of counseling.
Marriage counselors are only there to help you and your relationship, so going to therapy hardly makes you a failure.
In fact, one 2010 study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that marriage counseling can help even the most distressed of couples, so long as both you and your spouse are willing to change and improve.
31. Keep your spouse's secrets—no matter how small.
When your spouse confides in you, that's not something to take lightly. And even if the secret they shared with you seems small, you shouldn't share it—no matter what.
"What may seem insignificant, trivial, or cute to you may be serious to your partner," Tessina says. "Recognize what is important to your partner and don't discuss it with your friends or family."
32. And never share their personal details or private information.
Everyone gets annoyed with their significant other sometimes, and that's fine. However, a good spouse never airs their grievances publicly.
"Even when it sounds like a joke, our partners are hurt, embarrassed, and shamed when we discuss private matters with family or friends," says Sedacca. "As tempting as it may be to bring up those incidents with others, resist. It's disrespectful and won't lead to a positive resolution."
33. Take up new hobbies together.
You and your spouse don't have to have everything in common to make your marriage work. As your relationship progresses, though, Janet and Steven Hall, authors of 15 Rules for a Loving, Lasting, and Satisfying Relationship, suggest taking up new activities with your partner so that the two of you have something to bond over.
"It's those new interests and new experiences—discovered while on a vacation, for instance—that help to add a spark to a relationship," they explain. "In those experiences, a couple may rediscover why they fell in love in the first place and, more importantly, learn how to have fun together."
34. And spend some quality time apart, too.
If you want your marriage to be successful, you have to understand the need for time apart.
According to a 2004 study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, having hobbies and friends outside of one's marriage is key to having high satisfaction inside the marriage as well.
35. Maintain good relationships with your friends.
Your spouse might be your best friend, but that doesn't mean that they should be your only friend.
On the contrary, one 2017 study from the University of Texas at Austin found that spouses who had strong support systems were better able to distract themselves when their marriages became too stressful. In other words, your other close friendships could translate into less serious fights with your spouse!
36. And also befriend other couples together.
Having friendships with other couples isn't just good for date night.
According to research from the University of Maryland School of Social Work, couples who actively seek out friendships with other couples tend to be happier and more closely connected.
Likewise, a 2022 study published in the Journal of Personality found that in relationships where one partner was disinterested in social interactions, there was lower marital satisfaction.
37. Perform routine relationship evaluations.
"Take time to zoom out of the relationship together and inquire into questions like, 'How is the relationship doing?' 'Where have we been struggling?' 'What has been good?' 'What do we desire?' 'How can we support each other?'" suggests relationship coach Marie Anna Winter.
Doing this strengthens the bond between you and your spouse and makes both of you more aware of what is and isn't working in your relationship.
38. Define the purpose of your relationship.
Speaking of questions, when you find yourself unsure in your marriage, Strah suggests asking yourself a particularly important one: "What is the purpose of my relationship?"
"This question can often help people clarify their needs, what they like and don't like about their relationship, what they would like more of, and most importantly, how they can be more supportive of their partner," he explains. "I believe this is a foundational approach to relationships—like a mission statement."
39. Learn how to compromise.
You want to watch The Bachelor. He wants to watch hockey. They're both on at the same time. You could argue about it until both programs are over, or you could learn how to compromise.
"Accept that you won't get everything on your list of wants and needs and desires," says Strah. "You need to do some things you might not want to for the good of the relationship."
40. Focus on the quality of intimacy.
It's quality over quantity when it comes to sex. That's according to a 2016 study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior that looked at marital satisfaction and found that the frequency of sex was not as important as the quality of it.
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41. Learn your spouse's love language.
Everybody has a different love language. And in a marriage, part of being a good spouse is understanding your partner's unique one: gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, or physical touch.
"You might like physical touch and they may like quality time. Get to know your language so you can tell them what you enjoy and vice versa," explains mental health therapist Jacob Kountz.
42. Be open about finances.
It's a bit of an old-fashioned notion that one partner is in control of all the finances while the other is in the dark, but that doesn't mean you might still be keeping some small details hidden. If you are, though, you should probably stop.
"If you are aware of each other's income, accounts, and spending, this is a sign your marriage will last," Robert Hinojosa, LCSW at Choosing Therapy, previously shared with Best Life. "This means there are no hidden purchases, and you have expectations around how you communicate about big purchases or other financial decisions."
43. And be willing to seek financial help.
No matter your income level or assets, it's important to consult a third-party financial planner or counselor who can help you work on common goals, settle disagreements, and take the emotion out of the often highly charged issue that is money.
One 2018 survey from Ramsey Solutions found that money fights are the second leading cause of divorce after infidelity, so having someone to help you through your financial woes could just save your marriage.
44. Remember to thank your spouse, even for the little things.
Sure, you say "thanks" for the big things—a gift, date night, or bouquet of roses, for example. But what about all those little things your spouse does to make your life easier and better? If you aren't expressing your gratitude for these things already, you might want to start.
"Taking a partner for granted undermines all relationships," Poppy Spencer, MS, CPC, a certified counselor and relationship expert, previously shared with Best Life. "Whether people acknowledge it or not, being a value to a significant other is essential. When gratitude is not expressed, emotional, and sometimes physical, health is compromised."
45. Support your spouse's dreams.
"There's a common misconception that honesty is about not lying to your partner," points out Wasser. "But it's about being transparent with your feelings, your aspirations, your fears, your failures, and yes, your mistakes too."
"When you're both lying on the couch on a lazy Sunday, talk about your dreams, discuss your fears," she adds.
For example, does your spouse dream of getting a master's degree? Do they hope one day to earn their pilot's license? Whatever their goal may be, your job as a loving spouse is to support them as they work toward achieving it.
Similarly, you should talk openly and honestly about your vision for the future, so your partner can support you in return.
46. Embrace vulnerability.
"By sharing your innermost thoughts, fears, and dreams, you create a safe space for your partner to do the same, with this vulnerability fostering a stronger emotional bond, allowing you to truly understand and support each other," shares Christopher Paul Jones, a leading phobia specialist, bestselling author, and speaker.
"For example, let's say you're struggling with a fear or insecurity that has been weighing on your mind. Embracing vulnerability means sharing this fear with your partner and expressing how it affects you emotionally, such as feeling anxious at family gatherings or being scared of becoming a parent," he explains.
47. Ask for support when you need it.
It's unfair to assume that your spouse is a mindreader and always knows when you're in need of emotional support. By telling your partner that you need help, you are making your needs known and putting the ball in their court.
Research from the University of Iowa published in 2008 even found that when wives were open and honest about their needs, they were happier in their marriages.
48. And don't give out unsolicited advice.
Yes, there is such a thing as being too supportive. In the same University of Iowa study, researchers found that too much informational support—typically in the form of unsolicited advice—can harm a marriage
49. Press the "reset" button every morning.
Leave the past in the past and let every day be a clean slate between you and your spouse.
Even if your spouse said something mean or did something aggravating, "try to forgive your partner for the slights of yesterday," says Madden. "Start each morning fresh. Accept that we all have bad days where we aren't the loving partners we ideally would like to be."
50. Remember, there's no rule book.
While all of these tips can definitely aid in a successful relationship, it's important to remember that there's no one-size-fits-all rule book when it comes to marriage.
"There tends to be an overarching idea that there is a rule book somewhere for marriage and relationships where there is a list of thou shalt and thou shalt not," notes Kristal DeSantis, LMFT, author of STRONG: A Relationship Field Guide for the Modern Man. These unspoken shoulds and shouldn'ts are usually based on stigmas, assumptions, or traditions and don't actually work for many modern couples."
"Your relationship needs to be custom-made for you and your partner," she adds. "But you can't create something custom if you're not honest about what you want."