Couple laughing together
Unsplash / Edo Rezkia

When it comes to marriage advice, the most important thing to know is that there are no one-size-fits-all rules.

You are two unique individuals with a unique relationship. What makes one couple happy won't necessarily work for you.

That being said, there are still lessons to be learned from other married couples. The point is that you adapt their insights to suit your own circumstances and relationship style.

We've asked a range of couples for their very best marriage advice - the kind of wisdom that's normally only shared with the closest of friends. We've also included some expert insight to help you make the most of your relationship.

Of course, there will still be difficult times, but we think this advice will help you weather any storms - and thoroughly enjoy the happy days ahead, too!

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1. Be on the Same Page Financially

"When we first got married, we kept our finances completely separate," says Afia, who married Antony in 2012.

"I don't think we even knew exactly what the other was earning! It took us a year to talk about money properly, and what forced us to have the conversation was deciding to save up to buy a flat.

"I'm not saying it was the most fun conversation! But it was useful to decide who pays for what and how we could make savings together.

"We still have separate bank accounts, to be honest, but we have matched up our spending now. If we have a couple goal we're saving for (we're now hoping to buy a bigger flat because I'm pregnant), we both agree how to work out our spending.

"It's never too late to have the money conversation! You can still be independent while working as a team, and it stops a lot of arguments before they begin."

2. Maintain Your Own Space

One of the piece of marriage advice that comes up again and again from married couples: keep your individuality. And the easiest way to do that? Have a space that's your own. This 'space' can be anything from having separate hobbies to sometimes socialising separately.

3. Accommodate Each Other's Families

Multi-generational family gathered around a dinner table
Cottonbro/Pexels

"I hate my mother-in-law and she hates me," says Sara (named changed), who got married 10 years ago. "We have never got on, to the point where she told other relatives that the day my husband and I got married was 'the worst day' of her life.

"Saying that... she is my husband's mother and he loves her. 

"I would happily cut her out of our lives, but I can't do that to him. We still see her for visits and I am always polite.

"I won't accept her being rude to me, and I expect my husband to defend me if she says things about me, but I will often hold my tongue. We are very different people.

"Being married means you are part of each other's families, like it or not. If you don't get on, try to rise above it."

4. Have a Housework Schedule

No, it's not the sexiest of marriage advice, but several studies have shown that couples who share household chores are happier on average. 

READ MORE: Real Couples Reveal the 21 Things That Didn't Matter on Their Wedding Days

5. Listen to Each Other

"My first husband did not hide the fact he was bored when I talked about my work," says Jessica, who married Stu in 2018. "He would roll his eyes, shift in his seat, look at his phone. It actually made me feel really lonely.

"With Stu, it's completely different. He asks questions when I'm telling an office story, he knows all my colleagues' names even though he hasn't met them.

"You make your partner feel valued if you show interest in their life outside your relationship."

6. Stay United Under Pressure

Female couple from behind with their arms around each other in a supportive post
Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash

This piece of marriage advice definitely falls under the 'easier said than done' category. However, a recent study showed that the way couples treat each other while they're under stress can have a major impact on how they feel about the marriage overall. 

7. Have a Relationship MOT

Professional counselling could be one of the best investments you make in your relationship.

"Relationship counselling is not just for times of crisis," explains Deone Payne-James, integrative counsellor/psychotherapist MBACP. "In the same way that you wouldn’t wait until your car is a write-off to start tending to the issues, seeking counselling is more impactful when viewed as a way of enhancing and maintaining a healthy relationship.

"Professional counselling can help to strengthen a relationship by offering couples an opportunity to identify, discover and agree new ways of addressing difficulties. It can offer a safe, confidential and supportive space in which to explore issues that can lead to long-term resentments and discord.

"It can offer a chance to develop and build a respectful, loving and communicative relationship. It’s important to acknowledge that there will be tough times, disagreements and differing perspectives or ideas about doing things and other important issue within a relationship. Ultimately, it helps couples to face the reality and work on their relationship in a supportive way.

Of course, it may not be easy to convince your partner to consider relationship counselling if they believe this something you only need if you're having issues, or if they struggle to talk about their feelings.

"Broadly speaking, men might be particularly wary of asking for profession help with relationship issues, due to their perception of masculinity, cultural influences and what the men in their lives have modelled," says Deone.

"Deeply and even unconsciously held beliefs often suggest that men shouldn’t show or explore their emotions, their internal world and/or vulnerability. Relationship counselling usually involves all of the these and doing so with a stranger can feel embarrassing, weak or even shameful."

The key is to begin the conversation about relationship counselling in a clear, kind and non-judgmental way.

"I would suggest starting with expressing what you hope to achieve, address or improve by starting relationship counselling," advises Deone. "It will also be important to share why this is important and the concerns about where not facing these things might lead to.

"I frame relationship counselling as being about building a better relationship and addressing the issue, behaviours and patterns that threaten that - rather than criticising the individuals within it."

8. Check Your Power Balance

A recent study found that a power imbalance in a marriage can really affect a couple's happiness. Specifically, each member of the couple needs to feel that they have the 'personal power' to make decisions.

READ MORE: 26 Indoor Date Ideas You Can Do Without Opening Your Front Door

9. Celebrate Each Other

Cocktails
Unsplash / Victoria Hendzel

"I went freelance last year, and when I got my first commission, my wife surprised me with a special dinner - she even made banners!" says Amy, who married Bella in 2020.

"She's always doing things like that. I'm not as good as her at surprises, but I try, like champagne and flowers when she got promoted.

"I think the fact that we are proud of each other's successes is the secret of our relationship."

10. Be Present

"When we got married, loads of people told us that having goals was really important to our relationship," says Laura, who has been married to Owen for 20 years.

"Marriage has actually taught me the opposite. There's a quote I love by Tolstoy: 'There is only one time that is important: now! It is the most important time because it is the only time we have any power.'

"I think it's really important to live in the moment and appreciate what you have.

"That was easier said that done though when we had three kids under six!"

11. Don't Compare

Ever heard Theodor Roosevelt's famous quote, "Comparison is the thief of joy"?

One thing we hear time and again from married couples is that comparing your relationship achieves nothing but unhappiness - and that's particularly true when it comes to social media. 

12. Nurture Your Friendship

Couple laughing together
Unsplash / Edo Rezkia

Romantic love certainly has its charms - who doesn't love that whoosh of butterflies from early-stage romance? But repeated studies have shown that the secret of happiness is love based on the elements of a strong friendship, such as understanding and commitment.

13. Don't Hold on to Arguments

"I am one of those annoying people who will bring up rows from years ago," says Monika, who's been married for two years.

"It's something I'm working on because it drives my husband mad!

"Once an argument is done, it should be done, otherwise your relationship can become full of bitterness.

"Now I just need to get better at following my own advice..."

READ MORE: The Most Annoying Things People Say to Newlyweds

14. Saying That... Don't Neglect Your Sex Life

There will most likely be periods of time when one or both of you won't feel like having sex. That's normal. The last thing you need is to be under pressure to do it a certain number of times per week or month because that's what you're 'supposed' to do. You know what's right for you. However, most of the couples we spoke to agree that it's important to keep the door open to physical intimacy, focusing on quality over quantity.

15. Sort out Your Bedroom

Beautiful bedroom
Unsplash / Lauren Haden

No, we're not still talking about sex.

"This is going to sound weird, but the key to our marriage is getting enough sleep," says Tom, who's been married to Georgie for a month after five years together.

"We're people who don't do well on lack of sleep, so when we bought our flat, we spend the most time and money getting the bedroom right.

"The best mattress for both of us, pillows – she likes firm, I like soft – different summer and winter duvets, loads of plants because we love them; everything is set up to give both of us the best night's sleep possible.

"Obviously, this will be more difficult if we have kids, but at least we're giving ourselves a fighting chance..."

READ MORE: The 32 Best Honeymoon Suites in the World

16. Don't Be Afraid of Work

"In my twenties I had this idea that a relationship was only 'good' if it was effortless, if everything came naturally," says Steph, who's been married to Theo for five years.

"I was really naive. Theo and and I definitely have to work on being happy together sometimes, whether that's to do with money, one of us being stressed or something else.

"Honestly, sometimes he just annoys me, and vice versa!

"If there's a problem, we sit down and talk about it.

"Putting effort into your marriage doesn't mean there's something wrong with your relationship - it's the opposite."

17. Don't Be Unkind

"Sometimes I'm really shocked at the way some of our couple friends talk to each other," says Shivani, who's been married for nine years.

"I'm not saying my husband and I don't argue – we do – and it can get quite heated.

"But we've seen some of our friends throwing really personal insults at each other, then sulking for days (which really makes our group holidays together stressful!).

"I don't see that kind of argument as passionate. It's two people being cruel to each other.

"I can say with confidence that my husband would never talk to me like that – and I wouldn't do that to him either."

18. Try New Things Together

Couple cooking together
Unsplash / Jimmy Dean

Sharing new experiences can help build and maintain your sense of connection. This doesn't have to be something that costs the earth - try a new fitness class, for example, or cook a new-to-you cuisine together.

19. Find Your Version of Romance

"As a surprise, my wife organised for a company to do a deep clean of our house," says Nelly, who's been married for four years.

"That is, without a doubt, the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me.

"I know it's not everyone's idea of romantic, but I have Mrs Hinch-levels of interest in keeping our home clean, so I loved it, and I felt really seen."

A common piece of marriage advice is "keep the romance alive". But first, you need to work out – together – what romance means to you. It's a deeply personal thing.

You may find candle-lit restaurants and beautiful flowers romantic, or it may be something else that makes you feel special and cherished.

Having an understanding of what's romantic to you and your partner – and then act on it.

Feeling inspired? Check out our guides to 65 unexpected gifts for your wife and 60 unusual gifts for husbands to treat them to something special.