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This spring, we’ll celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. We have a healthy marriage, and while we have loved one another all those years, we’ve also (mostly) liked each other. In looking back, I realize making our house a home went a long way in developing a strong marriage. I thought I’d pass along five pieces of advice about building a happy home and thus, a happy marriage.

1. You absolutely set the tone for your home.
“Happy wife makes a happy life” may sound trite, but there’s a lot of truth in those words. Everyone in our house picks up on my vibe. When I’m stressed or rushed, I sense their hesitation. When I’m cranking up the music and dancing in the kitchen, everyone has a smile on their face. If I’m eating healthy and staying active, my family realizes there’s a need for these good things in their own life as well. Self-care is super important, perhaps even more so when other people are counting on your good mood.

2. Establish date night activities before you ever have kids.
This applies to many helpful habits you’re hoping to establish in your marriage. Develop the standards before a junior mister or miss even enters the family photo. Get out of the house together. My husband and I enjoy frequenting local mom and pop restaurants, and we still make time to do that on our own or as a double date. We also enjoy grabbing a cup of coffee at a local bookstore, and browsing for hours (always making sure we buy a couple of books as well). Know what activities you enjoy as a couple, and make sure you frequently get out of your house and do them.

3. Eat meals together.
Sitting down together at the kitchen table, eating a homemade meal, and having a conversation about your day might be the most important thing you can offer up in your home. For so many reasons. As a new bride, I was more comfortable mixing up a batch of chocolate chip cookies than I was baking a meatloaf with sides of potatoes and green beans, but I’ve learned my way around a cookbook over the years. Maybe cooking is more your husband’s thing than yours, and that works too. Wherever you fall on the cooking spectrum, make eating together as a family a priority. In our house, this often includes breakfast too.

4. Lower your expectations.
Perhaps I should clarify. We want clean homes and a true partnership. I’ve learned lowering my expectations from perfection to acceptable has helped us reach both of these goals. Marriage involves a lot of give and take. For example, I can always tell where my husband took off his socks for the day, because they’ll remain in that exact same spot until I pick them up and put them in the dirty clothes hamper. This could be super annoying, but it’s socks. We have way bigger concerns in our life. In talking with a newly widowed friend a few years back, she said one of the things she missed most about her husband was the pile of dirty clothes he’d always leave somewhere close to the laundry basket, but never in the basket itself. Perspective.

5. Open up your home for entertaining.
Marriage does not happen on a deserted island. Our homes are blessings, no matter their size or location. Throw some hamburgers on the grill, or order up a pizza, and invite your friends to your home. Even better, cook something with your friends. Looking back over the last 15 years, our family has had so many life surprises; things we couldn’t have seen coming, and we’ve needed our friends and family to support us. Bring loved ones into your home. It’s the best way to ensure you won’t have to live life alone. 

Our home isn’t overly fancy, but it’s a source of comfort for my family and our loved ones. May it always be so.

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Traci Rhoades

Traci Rhoades is a writer and Bible teacher. She lives in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area with her family and an ever-changing number of pets. Connect with her online at or @tracesoffaith on twitter. She is the author of "Not All Who Wander (Spiritually) Are Lost."

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