The Happy Couple Cheat Sheet: 15 Steps to a Balanced and Happy Marriage (Relationship)

Posted in Balanced Lifestyle, Balanced Relationships | October 27, 2009 |


The other day my husband and I were talking about our marriage and how happy we are together. Then we somehow started talking about our friends and how some of their marriages and relationships didn’t work out. It was sad to see some of them go through painful divorces or experience great disappointments in people who were considered their second halves just a while back.

It’s not a secret that rates of divorces are rising like crazy all over the world now (in the United States 50% of all marriages end in divorce and in Ukraine the rates are just a little bit lower). I am not going to go into the details of why it is happening but I would like to share my experience of a happy and balanced marriage. I hope that maybe these tips will help some couples to live happily ever after.

    1. Be honest with each other. I think marriage and any serious relationship starts with honesty.
      My husband is a scuba diver and he has a few scuba buddies. If you do not know much about diving then I want to share one secret: it is EXTREMELY expensive (you need at least $3000 on average to get your own gear and as you become better at it you will want more expensive and more professional equipment). For the reason that I cannot figure out scuba diving is a real addiction for men and they cannot stop buying new equipment no matter how much they have already (my husband is past that point thankfully :-)) Back to the scuba buddies, these guys are married and they hide their new equipment from their wives. Every time they buy something new they try to sneak around and get it delivered when their wives are not home, then they hide it real good to make sure that their wives do not know how much they’ve just spent (my husband has never done anything like this, phew!). One of these guys has just divorced and now they are fighting over the custody of the children. I can’t imagine living with a person who is not honest with me, neither does my husband and I do not have much hope in marriages that are based on lies and sneaking around.
    2. Do not only say “I love you,” show it.
      My parents divorced when I was about 10 years old. I remember my dad always talking a lot about how much he loved my mom and me but he never showed it. He never helped my mom around the house, he never helped her financially to raise me after the divorce, and he never tried hard enough to be a good husband and a good dad.
      It is important to show your partner your love. It can be support in a difficult situation, help around the house or with the kids, a romantic night out or a timely hug when you are feeling blue.

  1. In a relationship you are a team and not two solo players. When you are married you lose some of your “I” and turn it into “We.” Marriage is like a football game (without getting slammed though :-)). A person who does not know the rules will look at the field and see a bunch of big guys running around, jumping on each other and acting completely irrational. A person who knows the rules will see a strategy behind every move. Each player has his own role on the field and each of the players is responsible for the final score. In a marriage it is important to have your own life and your own interests, however happy couples know that all these interests are worthless if they do not benefit their team. There is a great movie called Facing the Giants that continues this analogy (this is a Christian movie). Another one of my favorites is Fireproof and I think that all couples need to watch it because it is a wonderful and inspiring movie.
  2. Keep romance burning in your relationship. There is nothing worse than a boring and unromantic relationship. When women start wearing hair rollers and shower caps around the house and when men spend all their time on the coach with a bottle of beer in their hands you can say that this relationship is doomed. Here are 10 ways to turn a boring relationship into a party of love and I am sure that you can think of at least 100 more.
  3. Be best friends. A marriage based only on friendship is hardly possible, but a marriage without friendship is doomed. What do friends do? They talk, they share their most intimate thoughts, they share their joys and sorrows, they have fun together, and they help and support each other. Can you imagine a marriage without all this? I can’t.
  4. Let little things slide. This tip is mostly meant for women because a lot of us (women) go crazy about little things like dirty socks around the house, a glass that was left in the wrong place or the wrong type of produce that he picked up at the grocery store. Men can think only about one thing at a time (these are words of my husband, no offense guys). When they think about a nice bottle of wine that they want to bring home for supper they forget whether you wanted Romaine lettuce or spinach. When they think about a football game they forget where they leave their glass and when they are ready to cuddle up with you under a blanket they forget where they threw their socks. Look at the big picture and enjoy a deep relationship and bond with your partner, after all nobody is perfect.
  5. Talk. When I say “talk” I do not mean just talking about what refrigerator you have to buy or what happened at work during the day. I mean talking about everything: about friends, about news, about your interests, about your concerns and about 100 more subjects. My husband and I lose track of time when we start talking to each other and I love this time more than anything else in the world (well, almost anything ;-)). Talking will help you understand what is going on in the head of your spouse, what bothers him/her, it will help you to resolve and prevent conflicts and misunderstandings if they arise (the worst thing is to keep a grudge inside and let it destroy your marriage).
  6. Be silent. Sounds contradictory to what I’ve just said, right? If you and your partner argue (it happens to the best of us) then you are likely to say something that you do not really mean. When we are upset we tend to pick the most stinging words that can hurt your partner’s trust and faith in you permanently. I find that it is much better to be silent in these situations and to let both of us cool down a little bit. After the smoke has cleared and you can think rationally again you can talk the whole situation over and most likely you will find an easy solution or explanation that will satisfy both of you.
  7. Be equally responsible for the family and household. This is a tip for men. A lot of men mention that marriage kills romance and that their wives become less interested in sex and fun activities that they used to enjoy before. This is really true because a lot of women get so tied up in household problems and bringing up children (not mentioning the fact that a lot of women are also working at the same time) that they do not have any energy left for anything else.
    Most men still think that a woman is a 100% responsible for bringing up children and taking care of the household. How many men change about half the amount of diapers that women do? How much time do men spend with the children when the kids are in a bad mood? How often do men think about what to fix for supper or when to vacuum the house? If you are one of the men who does it all or is willing to do it all then your wife is (will be) a very happy woman (my husband is all I’ve just mentioned and even more :-)). How would you expect a woman to think about a romantic night when she has been changing dirty diapers all day long and her personal time was limited to 5 minutes in the shower? A marriage puts a lot of responsibilities on both a man and a woman and if you want a happy and sexy wife then you need to give her some help and some free time.
  8. Smile and laugh together. According to a recent study people who smile a lot have lower rates of divorce. Researchers are not quite sure about the connection between smiling and happy marriages but having great time together and laughing a lot will help you become more positive about your relationship and life in general.

Here are 5 more rules that do not need any explanation in my opinion.

  1. Love each other
  2. Respect each other
  3. Support each other
  4. Understand each other
  5. Give to each other

A balanced and happy marriage is not a dream, it is a reality for me. I wish that more people could enjoy relationships that were satisfying and long-lasting at the same time. Do you have anything to add to this list? I am looking forward to your feedback.

Keep it balanced!

Smart Thoughts (25)

  1. Eric says:

    This is a great list. My wife and I have been married for 12 years, and your list is very accurate. My favorite is #5. Be best friends. We tell each other often that “you are my best friend.” I also really like #1. Being honest with each other is not only essential in marriage, but in life. Honesty is always better than the alternative.

  2. Anastasiya says:

    Congratulations on your happy 12 years of marriage and thank you for your comment!

  3. Charley says:

    This is a terrific list, thank you for putting it together. We’ve been married for six years but now with the triplets, we seem to be too pooped to do anything together. Speaking as the male I’ve always taken responsibility for certain household chores like all of the floors and the bathroom. With the three babies, we have no choice but to each split the feeding and diaper duties, but I would anyway, if we had only one. Even on days where I work (my wife does not) I still change 8 – 10 diapers a day and we tag team the overnite feeds.

    But as things go, we haven’t much time for each other at all. I would assume (hope) that this will get better with time.

    Kudos to you and your husband for putting together a great relationship.

    – Charley

    • Anastasiya says:

      Charlie, I can’t imagine having triplets:-) Twins is tough enough for me and you and your wife are my heroes. I think that having kids (especially more than one, LOL) is a real test for any relationship. If you can still stay sane and love each other no matter how little time and sleep you get then you have a perfect marriage!

  4. Sarah says:

    Wonderful list :) so many people could benefit from this! Honesty (and TRUST) are just SO important in a relationship, I couldn’t imagine being with someone myself who wasn’t also my best friend and someone I was comfortable with. OMG to that man hiding that from his wife – finances, interests, friends – to me, if you need to conceal a relationship or an activity from your partner then it probably isn’t something you should feel comfortable doing. I would have divorced him too – yes, scuba equipment is VERY expensive, I’m even wondering how long he could have kept that from her (among other things probably if he is doing that) WITHOUT expecting it to lead to divorce.

    As someone who is not married, really, the same rules apply to any domestic partnership. I have also been graced with a wonderful guy who is a great friend, contributes around the house, and who I can talk to about God knows what for hours. I really hope you share this list :) and plenty of people see it, the divorce rate in this country is abysmal and a little appreciation for what you have goes a really long way. At the end of the day, I think appreciating your partner, enjoying your relationship, and recognizing that you have someone you love who also loves you is one of the most important things you can have in life.

    I would also include being honest with one another about your expectations from the get go, before even discussing your future. I have been in previous relationships where men, to get my attention, made up goals and even ideologies that they didn’t believe in. I actually had one ex., who was evidently Christian, tell me he wasn’t religious and regularly bashed his own faith to stay in our relationship (I’m not religious, but that was still not ok with me, I respect people so much more when they are strong in their beliefs, mine aside). Yup, honesty is one heck of a thing and things are found out one way or another, it really is a small world. I would also add in, for sure, to pick your battles – sometimes the small stuff and irritating mannerisms turn into more than they need to be (guilty of this myself sometimes).

    Btw, we’re about to test my “independence” – found out I am indeed going to be a mommy today. Quite a big surprise, any advice from someone that has been there on what is about to change?

    • Anastasiya says:

      Congrats on your great news Sarah! That’s wonderful and I hope that you will enjoy being a mommy in the future. Just use every minute of independence and freedom that you have now :-) For a while you will have to forget about freedom and sleep. Just be prepared (actually I was not quite ready for that when my twins arrived :-) I also hope that your boyfriend will be helping you a lot. He seems like a good guy from your words and I really hope that you will have one of those happy ever afters :-)

  5. It’s inspiring to hear about the love you and your partner have for each other.

  6. Very nice list, Anastasiya. I’m guilty of not doing #6 consistently. I would add, if I may, one thing: Allow each other space to retain your individuality. Each person’s identity and interests should remain intact.

    • Anastasiya says:

      That’s a very good point Belinda. Thank you for mentioning it.
      I agree that it is extremely important to stay who you are in a relationship and to give each other some room to be yourself.

  7. I love your blog. Very informative and well done! I couldn’t help laugh at the scuba stuff as I also love diving. However, I don’t buy a bunch of equipment. Being from New Mexico, I don’t have a great amount of water around, so I don’t get out much.

    Again, I really do like your blog – you are inspiring!

  8. Sandie Chisley says:

    You are perfectly right. I was married for 17 years and had none of this. I am now 47, and met my man on We have all of the above and have been together for almost 2 years. We talk about marriage down the road, but don’t push the issue. We have the utmost respect for each other and understand each other, treat each other the way we would like to be treated. I see him as my life partner. The best thing that we have going for us, is that we are best friends. I printed your list and will post it on the fridge as a reminder of what we have and to never stop trying. It doesn’t take much effort as we already have this in our relationship, however the words written, help us to understand why we deserve each other. Thank you.

    • Anastasiya says:

      Thank you for your thoughts, Sandie! And congratulations on 17 years of being together!. My husband and I are about to celebrate our 5-year anniversary – and I am grateful for every minute that I send with him. I am always so happy to hear stories of being like you, Sandie, where marriage is a continuous journey of love rather than a form of “survival.” I hope you and your husband will celebrate many-many more years together!

  9. Subject Verb says:

    All of this is true. I have such a wonderful marriage, and one of the best things about it is that it is so easy. We always hear, “Marriage is soooo hard. You have to work to have a happy marriage.” While a good marriage does take “work,” it is a type of work that will come as easily as breathing. Yes, your body must expend energy for your diaphragm to rise and fall, but you don’t think about it, because it is just what your body does naturally. Our marriage is easy, because we love each other and put each other before ourselves. When both people have that motivation, all of the things listed in this article come naturally.

    • Anastasiya says:

      I am so happy for you! I loved your analogy wit breathing :-) All the work that we have to do in marriage is easy and enjoyable; it shouldn’t be a struggle, it should be a wonderful journey to personal improvement and living as one.

  10. Chris F says:

    Great list.

    I followed these and my wife cheated on me for 2 and a half years with a total loser – after 20 years of marriage and with 2 young children.

    She is now begging me to take her back.

    I expect she wouldn’t be begging me to come back had I not followed these wonderful tips.

    I am serious about this. My mistake? I was too trusting.

    Her mistake? She is selfish and didn’t think of her husband or children.

    • Anastasiya says:

      Hi Chris!
      I am sorry you had to go through this difficult situation. Sometimes even our best intentions and motives don;t bring the results we are hoping for. After all, (as i mentioned in the article) marriage depends on both people. One person can’t be 100% responsible for keeping the fire burning. I can’t give you any advice on what you should d because I don’t know your wife or your situation. The most obvious advice seems to be to forgive your wife and give her another chance. Is it the right one? I don’t know. Only you can answer that question. And it’s a difficult one because you need to decide both for yourself and your kids.
      I’ll be praying for you and your family. I hope that God will guide you in the right direction.

      • Chris F says:

        Thanks for the reply. Sorry to bring a downer into proceedings. Reading my post again it probably was a little inappropriate.

        • Anastasiya says:

          Not at all, Chris! I appreciate all comments here on BalanceInMe. Life does not always smell like roses and that’s what life balance is about. Good luck with your decisions!

          • rekha says:

            hiii i have been married for 1 year… and its a great list, but we miss friendship and not talk so much that is the sad part… he decides what to talk and what not… what to do..??

  11. Sara says:

    This is a wonderful post! I’m not married yet but we have been together 4 years now and we have a gorgeous 4 and a half month old boy .. We are 6 years apart in age, I’m 22 and he’s about to be 28 and we still rough house and pick on each other all the time like teenagers lol Relationships CAN be hard and they do take a lot of work, but its so easy when it just feels like it is meant to be. I usually tell people that nothing worth having comes easy but I should also add that if you feel like it is that impossible, maybe it just isn’t meant to be, ya know? Thank you for your post, I enjoyed reading it!