It has been solid three years since hubby and I tied the knot. Our marriage has been the easiest part of our lives. We are still like best friends and love hanging out with each other. So it has been really, really fun.

We are happy. But I never thought about a recipe for happy marriage, until I was asked at a bachelorette/bridal party. Our good friend, a super cute and fun girl was getting married and she was pretty anxious. All of the people in the room ensured her that it would be “just the same” so “there is nothing to worry about”. But I was like “well it was very different for me”, followed by – after a gasp from the bride-to-be of course – “but good different”. Then we started talking about what would be “good different” and forced me to think harder about my own experience. What makes a good marriage? And what is the difference distinguish a happy marriage from a happy relationship?

First, what makes a happy marriage? Before we got married, I never thought it was necessary. We lived together for a couple years, we adopted a dog together, we do not have extended family nearby, so I thought one piece of paper would not make any difference. That is why we opted out wedding/reception all together and tied the knot in city hall then went for pancakes. We got our wedding bands off Ebay for $20 a pop, and hubby did not forget to throw in a handy “buy one get one 50%” coupon to make the whole purchase $30. LOL. We only had his mom besides us when we signed the paper and honestly, my MIL was not a big fan with this whole arrangement AT ALL. But looking back, HOW I got married made me happier than the FACT I got married, because we were in complete agreement with each other, and we made it so easy for each other. Shared value like this IS the foundation of a happy marriage, and I’d say that until you find someone who shares the same value as yours, do not settle. It sounds harsh yet what gives you headaches during a relationship will likely to continue to give you headaches later in marriage, regardless if it is a habit, an idea, or a way of life. And to be able to completely relax next to your spouse is very very important in day-to-day life.

That being said, we let small differences go. No one can marry their twins. What is important to align with each other is ideology or value, not habits. Hubby is a night owl and I like to go to bed no late than 10 pm. It used to create fraction because I could not fall asleep alone. But we made it work by him tucking me in. We also grow up on very different food, so more often than not, we eat different dinners. But these do not bother us anymore, because the priority is to make life under this roof, with each other, the most relaxing moments in each other’s life. “As long as you are with me, you can be 100% yourself”.

Well at this point, I have to admit that we had it easy because we have no kids. So we do not have to sacrifice as much. However, I know couple with kids and more reasonable they treat each other, more confident and well-behaved their kids are. We have dogs and I was so surprised that how much my girl understands the difference between us discussing and arguing. We can be talking about politics and really challenge each other and raise our voices to the point our upstairs neighbor thought we were fighting, and our pit bull just curls up next to my feet snoring. But if we were ever angry at each other, even we talked in regular voice, she would get nervous and jump on us constantly to …I do not know what she tries to accomplish honestly, because it looks like a dog park fight. So I am sure children sense the bond between parents too and will be greatly influenced.

Let one be is not always easy. But it is essential to make a marriage from a good relationship. I lived by myself most of my life and definitely have micromanage issues. if I ever had a child I would totally be one of these helicopter parents and produce the most anxious off-springs. And I did nag hubby a lot BEFORE we got married. But I make a conscious decision when we got married to let him be, because you can force yourself to compromise in a relationship, but not all your life to please your spouse. So unless he is endanger himself, I do not make a peep. I just do not be part of it. I say “endanger himself” like he is challenging himself constantly, that is not true. The fact is that he just acts irrational sometimes (like a normal guy), and kicks it up a notch when he is with his guy friends. LOL. But hey, he probably thinks it is equally irrational to get a pedicure with wine and chatting with girlfriends for a whole day until getting a sore throat, but he let me be, so we are good.

Last but not least – Have fun together!  The best part of marriage to me is to earn a life-time-long friend. So really explore your common interests and go on new adventures together. And make time for that, because day-to-day life often does not allow you relax enough to enjoy each other’s company. We like to go out for a drink, like one beer, just so we are at a different location from home. We also go on vacations as frequent as we can. That is the time we really talk about our hopes and dreams and we have made important life decisions during trips. Life is one’s playground, and marriage should not be the call to go home, but put another friend besides you in the sandbox.

So hang loose big boy, we dreamed big for this coming year and I cannot wait to start a new adventure with you.