Was at a girlfriend’s Hen Party over the weekend!She asked us to give her some wise advice for making her marriage work i.e. “Recipe for Happiness”. Perhaps it was after a long bus ride from Singapore to KL that has dulled my brain, but I only managed to come up with two for her then.

Never go to bed with an unresolved quarrel/argument.

Always set aside one night a week as your “date night”, especially after you have kids.

Which led me to think… what my recipe for happiness is?

First and foremost, I firmly believe that we have to create our own happiness and not to expect someone else to make us happy. This reminds me of what was written by 2 other friends on their pieces of paper “Low expectations”. Come to think of it, it’s quite true… we often expect our husband or our wife to do something for us to make us happy. But that will never work because usually they would fall short of our expectations. It’s much easier when we turn the table around, and say, I would be happy if I could do something for my loved one. What we can do is within our control. But what someone else can do is not.

After some thoughts, this is my recipe for happiness, in addition to the above:

Be a happy person myself. Stay positive. Be optimistic. When I am down, I will pull my spouse down.

Choose the right spouse. Many a times, people who make great lovers might not make great husbands/wives. How to choose the right spouse? Find out what your values systems (money, family, kids, spirituality etc.) are. This is so crucial, but many a times, we are swayed by our emotions and love that we simply sweep them under the carpet.

Money management. I read an article in The Sunday Times a couple of weeks back on this matter. There are 3 different styles. Style no. 1 is separate accounts. Style no. 2 is joint account. Style no. 3 is a hybrid of both. Husband and wife have separate accounts and also a joint account where both contribute a certain amount monthly for household expenses etc. Style no.2 is our choice. It is probably an influence by my parents. My parents pool their earnings together and from what I observed in their 30 years of marriage; money has never been a contention point.  I understand that it is not a style that suits every couple. But it is something that works for hubby and me.

Talk, talk and talk. When I am unhappy about something. I don’t sulk. (I used to, haha!) I bring it up in the open. There are usually 2 sides to a story. By talking, I find out how he’s feeling and thinking, and we can resolve the matter quickly.

Avoid the 4 horsemen as documented by John Gottman in his book. Arguments are part and parcel of a marriage. However, when a marriage breaks down, it is not about how often the couple argues, but how the couple argues. Apparently, contempt is so detrimental that if someone faces too much contempt, he/she will fall sick.

Joint objectives and goals. We are on the same page. We support each other’s dreams, goals and aspirations. We are heading in the same direction and we are growing together as a couple, spiritually, emotionally and financially.

Hehe… ok, at least now my “recipe” will cover the entire piece of paper given to me by my girlfriend. She said, “Hey! You are married! Yours is supposed to cover the entire page!” At first, with my initial 2 suggestions, it only covered a quarter of the page. J

My dearest girlfriend, I wish you much love, joy and laughter in your marriage. And I hope that you will find some of my “ingredients” useful. 🙂


Short Note: I have been invited by Yahoo! Answers to be part of their ‘Be the Love Guru!’ campaign. Have any pressing questions that you need answers to? Check it out here.