(We’ve all heard, “You have to work at a marriage.” But — what “work” do you have to do? Below are guidelines about having a successful, happy marriage. The author, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, doesn’t simply repeat the results of “research” that always promises to be unchangeably valid, but often is not. His insights were gained through many years spent counseling individuals and couples. His “rules” are eminently practical.)

Ten Rules for a Happy Marriage [1]

1) Keep your main focus on “giving” rather than “taking.” When your goal is to give your partner pleasure, you will always find opportunities to meet your goal. As a byproduct, you too will gain since people tend to reciprocate positive behavior.

2) Be careful to remain silent when your spouse insults you. By ignoring slights and insults you will prevent many needless quarrels. The momentary unpleasantness will quickly pass.

3) Give up unrealistic expectations. People come into marriage with many expectations which are not consciously expressed. By giving up unrealistic expectations you will prevent frustration and anger. Don’t expect your spouse to be perfect and don’t make comparisons.

4) Avoid labeling those things which are not to your liking as “awful.” Try to find a positive perspective on things.

5) Think of plans to motivate your spouse to want to do what you want him or her to do. If your first strategy is not effective, keep trying different strategies. Remember that tactful praise is a powerful motivator.

6) Realize that the meaning of your communication is the response you actually get. Clarify your goals. If your method of communication is not achieving your goal, change your approach. By keeping your eye on your main goal, which is to have a happy marriage, you will not become side-tracked.

7) Be willing to compromise. Be willing to do something you would rather not do in return for similar behavior from your spouse.

8) Don’t blame or condemn your spouse for mistakes. Plan on the best method to prevent the mistakes from reoccurring without arousing resentment or hurting your spouse’s feelings.

9) Live in the present. Whatever went wrong in the past is over. Focus on improving the the situation in the present.

10) Keep asking yourself, “What can I do to have a happy atmosphere in the house?”

[1] Pliskin, Rabbi Zelig; Gateway to Happiness; Aish Hatorah Publications, © 1983; p.390 (There are later editions as well)
I highly recommend this book. It’s most easily available on Amazon.com.