Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

15 Rules for a Happy Marriage

  1. Love the person for who they are, not who you think you can get them to be
  2. Say I love you every day
  3. Never go to bed mad
  4. Cuddle every night before you go to sleep
  5. Cuddle every morning when you wake up
  6. Prioritize each other over everyone else, including your children
  7. Don’t just tell your partner you love them, show it
  8. Take risks and be vulnerable with your partner
  9. Celebrate the little moments
  10. Don’t worry if you are different than other couples – be and do what makes things happy for the two of you
  11. Never stop dating
  12. Be friends
  13. Support each other’s dreams and goals
  14. Compromise often, give in whenever you can, and stand up for what’s really important to you when you have to
  15. Talk to each other – really talk to each other – every single day

Our first year of marriage was a while ago – almost 20 years. It was exciting, and challenging, and scary, because it wasn’t just Dave and I, but three kids, too, working hard to make a family. More recently, I’ve had the privilege of watching the relationship between my daughter and her husband as it has developed over the last two years. We first met Louis when he landed in America a few days before his wedding day; he, Kira, and their daughter have lived with us since then.

In watching them navigate those first 12 months has reminded me what really makes the magic in a couple – and it’s not the passion or the sex or the date nights or the time away from the baby.

It’s the talking.

None of that other stuff matters if you can’t talk to your spouse. Everything about those 15 rules is about talking, communicating, and most importantly – listening.

When Dave and I were first dating, living together, and finally married, the most important time we spent together was in a little porch room off the back of the house. We would sit for hours and talk. We talked about everything and anything that came to mind – we talked about the future, about our kids, about our jobs, about our beliefs, about our childhoods, about our pasts – we talked. And talked. And talked.

Kira and Louis, who also met online and lived in different countries, had no other way to build their relationship than through talking. While much-improved since the days Dave and chatted in the AOL chatroom (since they could see each other and hear each other and didn’t have to type well), conversation was all they had to stay connected.

All that talking from oceans apart prepared them for the challenges of that first year of marriage, and they not only survived it but thrived through it. In a few weeks, they’ll be celebrating anniversary number two.¬†When it comes to surviving the first year of marriage, nothing is more important than openly and honestly communicating with each other, respectfully and lovingly.

Dave and I are together almost 24 hours out of every day. We live together, run a business together, sit next to each other most days while we work. We are raising kids together. We travel together. And we talk to each other, all the time. People ask us if we get tired of each other. We really don’t. We really do actually like each other, just as we are, imperfections and all.