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Is There a Secret to a Happy & Healthy Marriage?

Here's My Advice

By Judey Kalchik Published 23 days ago Updated 23 days ago 7 min read
Top Story - September 2023

I've been married for 38 years... but not to the same person the entire time. Still, with one union lasting 24 years and the other at 14 and climbing, perhaps I can be permitted my opinion on this question.

Somehow I see these as less secrets than 'lifehacks'; these seem all the rage and I feel less dated using this description, so Lifehacks to a Happy and Healthy Marriage it will be henceforth known.

Lifehack #1 Choose Wisely

Yes, yes, this seems like a no-brainer, a reasonable assumption... but you know what they say about assuming, don't you? (Aside: perhaps you don't and that's OK; no judgement here. It used to be more widely used: "Don't assume! When you do you make an ass out of u & me." It's a dismantling of the actual word assume, you see?)

So, choose wisely, and here are some criteria to consider:

  1. Like them the way that they are. Be excited and content (both are important) at the knowledge that you will live with this person, with these habits, and their quirks, for the rest of your life.
  2. Don't try to change them. Ladies- we hardly change our bras once we decide which one the 'good one' is... and if we won't change the thing that touches us the most in a day, why would we think that our partners would want to change anything about themselves. (That's a way bigger deal than changing a bra.) No one, no matter how many times the HR team cheers enthusiastically about it: NO ONE likes to change because someone tells them to do it.
  3. Be prepared for them to change. You are not the same person you were at 13 years old, thankfully. (Unless you actually are 13 years old, in which case why are you reading this? Shouldn't you be creating a TikTok, scrolling through Temu, or at band practice?) Your partner will change, often when you least expect it, so expect it.
  4. Decide right now that you will be their biggest cheerleader. This is not hard to decide right now, so start flexing that muscle, start building that habit. You will, (and I know it's hard to believe it of your snuggly wuggly cuddle bunny right now) you will get some wild ideas and "what if...?" tossed your way. What ifs are part of life, are part of growing.

And; do you know what? What ifs don't always happen. Your partner may be the kind that likes to try out ideas using words instead of inside their head where those words don't terrify those around them. While that is sometimes (read this as 'often') alarming, get used to it. This type of wondering out loud is them involving you in the creation of their future. This is a good thing. Cheer them on, don't overreact, and celebrate the things they try.

Lifehack #2 Communicate

Another obvious point? Maybe. Just know that communication is more than words.

Communication is looking at your phone/watching TV/playing one more game/ instead of them when you are talking... or eating...or during sex... or; well you get the picture. Be present when you are present, because not giving them attention is not only disrespectful it makes them feel like crap.

Everything we do communicates something: it signals our attention, our truthfulness, and yes; it signals our love and commitment. Part of the time you will be communicating with yourself and asking the difficult questions, like:

  • Have I heard this story before? If you are wondering that the answer is always 'yes. yes you have.' But the rest of the answer is likely 'they don't remember telling you', and also possibly 'it's not resolved for them and they still feel angry/happy/confused/puzzled/sad and need to talk about it some more.’ Try not to solve whatever the story is about: listen and be present unless they ask your advice.
  • OMG- we aren't going to really do that, are we? I am sorry to tell you but sometimes the answer to that will be 'yes', but most often it will be 'no'. (See the previous section regarding cheerleading.) Sometimes they just haven't verbally explored whatever it is enough and they need to bring it out and toss it around - and around- and around a few more times.
  • I already told you the answer.... Yes, I believe you, you likely have answered this question several times. You've probably also revealed the mysteries of the extra toilet paper/how to change the vacuum cannister/and your preference for ice cream, too. But they either didn't hear you or forgot. They love you and don't mean to drive you over the edge. (And you probably do the same thing to them without realizing it.)

Lifehack #3 Savor the Moments

We think this is going to last forever and if there is any secret we collectively don't want to hear it's this: This will all end someday.

We don't know when we will reach across the bed to take their hand as we surface from a nightmare only to realize that they are gone. That they have been gone. That is wasn't a nightmare, you were just remembering they aren't there anymore.

We don't know when the person that knows you are being sarcastic when everyone around you thinks you are being kind won't be there to look at you with a sigh and a twinkle in their eye.

We don't know when we'll only fill our baskets with one kind of coffee creamer, won't add a bar of the dark chocolate with hazelnuts to place in the second shelf of the pantry for late night snackage, need to learn how to take out our own splinters, and when we'll only set the table for one.

Savor the moments you receive and the moments you create. Each day is a page in the scrapbook of the life you are building. Here's some entries:

  • Kiss hello. Kiss good morning. Kiss 'I'm home', and 'your eyes are blue today' and 'thank you for making the bed', and 'I love you on Tuesdays!'.
  • Dance. Dance when your music plays, and make the music play if it's been a while. (Pro tip- now is a good time for the phone, I know you have music on there) Sway in the kitchen and hum against their neck. Twirl around wearing a towel (or not) after a shower (and shower together, too). Dance in parking lots, your backyard, as you fold the laundry.
  • Cook together. Try the simple stuff you loved as a child. Explore a Reel or TikTok trend. Download something extravagant and complicated. Portion things for the freezer or jar them together (use a recipe and be careful). Or maybe just nuke/air-fry/get it from the deli and surprise them with a pain-free I-already-have-dinner ready evening.
  • Laugh often. Find a movie that makes one of you laugh and watch it together (for some reason I get the ones that think Monty Python is hysterical....) even if you don't find it funny enjoy their reaction. Be your own self and share the things you think about, ask the questions you want to know, and don't be afraid to laugh at yourself once in a while.
  • Touch each other. Hold hands when you walk from the car into a store. Rest your hand on their leg, their shoulder, across their shoulders. Let your legs gloriously entwine under the blankets before you scooch off into your own climate controlled spaces. (ok: I still use top sheets, I'm a Boomer. sorry/not sorry) Nuzzle their cheek, nibble their neck. Hug them and feel your heartbeats synchronize as you listen to that familiar thump thump in their chest.
  • Listen to them. Hear them say your name, follow the change to their breathing as they slip into sleep, go there with them as the words tremble on their lips while they tell you bad new and when they leap out with the joy of happiness. Hear the rumbling of a deep voice, the chirps of a falsetto or soprano sounding in excitement. Listen and savor the song they sing.

So- Is there a secret/lifehack or not?

I think the secret is in BOTH OF YOU knowing- deep in your heart and with every fiber of your being- that you are the most fortunate person in the world to be with your partner. And then let your action show more than your words do.


This was written in response to Jazzy's piece. I hope you check out her real and practical wisdom.

I write poetry about my love:

and this one for a couple whose marriage I officiated:

I hope you leave a comment and let me know: What are your thoughts about my lifehacks? What secret or advice would you give regarding marriage?


About the Creator

Judey Kalchik

It's my time to find and use my voice.

Poetry, short stories, memories, and a lot of things I think and wish I'd known a long time ago.

You can also find me on Medium

And please follow me on Threads, too!

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Comments (23)

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  • Kimmiekins418 days ago

    Even though I am not married yet I really needed to read this. I haven't been in too many long term relationships and the ones I have been in I haven't been the best in. But I am working on it. I loved how you mentioned all the little things, and expecting them to change over time. I think we forget those things when we get into relationships and get comfortable. We expect our partner to be the same person we fell for. But I think that is the beauty of life is that we are all forever changing an if two people are meant to be they will grow together, or somehow find their way back to each other.

  • Karen Cave20 days ago

    Really agree with the 'laugh together lots.' I feel deep down that the two things you MUST have together are the laughter, often, and also to be able to talk to each other and truly be yourselves, as well as feel supported.

  • Karen Cave20 days ago

    Wonderful article. I found myself nodding along and smiling and relating. I have been married twice myself - once to someone I wasn't in love with and was coerced into it. The second time I fell deeply in love after a whirlwind romance, not realising that he wasn't committed. If/when I do it again, it'll be pure and true, and for life - and because we BOTH really want it :)

  • Ralph Emerson20 days ago

    First, great article, well deserved TS. Second, I have been married three times, one for nineteen years, the second for seven years,, and the present one for eight years. I like whatyou wrote in 1.2, "Don't try to change them." My first two ex wives both told me many times over, "You have to change." Well, I did change for the first one, only to be told, "I don't love you anymore, you're not the way you used to be." So when the second one started to say the saame thing I decided "Yes, I have to change, I have to change you madam for somebody else.

  • Spot on, Judey. I’ve just hit 17 years and every item of advice on your post is 100 percent accurate. Great post! On a side note, Monty Python IS hilarious!

  • Kamil20 days ago


  • Gerald Holmes21 days ago

    This is wonderful, Judey. You have touched on so many things that are crucial to a healthy relationship! I've been married, to the love of my life, for over twenty years now and have learned a few things over that time. I think the most important thing I have learned is, never leave words unspoken! If something is bothering you in your relationship, speak those words and start that conversation. This is the road to understanding and peace. Congrats on Top Story.

  • Omolola Osunde21 days ago

    You should write a book on this.

  • Naomi Gold21 days ago

    All of this is spot on. Especially not attempting to change them, but accepting they will change… and being present with one another. The part about cherishing the moments is where I got very emotional, having lost someone. We do not know how much time we have with loved ones. I love the song too. Congrats! 🥂

  • Lovely 😉❤️📝👌🎉💖Congratulations on your Top Story🎉

  • ThatWriterWoman21 days ago

    I love this! I know nothing of marriage but I think I have a small amount of romantic wisdom to share: Respect your partner's feelings, even the illogical ones. Someone having feelings is not personal to you. Be kind and give space. We're all people, we all need space. Ask for what you need. Just because you're in love, doesn't mean you can read minds! Do something spontaneous once in a while. There's no blueprint for a relationship but I feel we can try and find one and that's when things get boring/lacking in excitement. Voila, there are mine!

  • Thats great advice and I’ll be using it! 😇

  • Excellent advice/life hacks. As someone who is divorced for 7 years after a 10 year marriage (together for 17 total) and pondering just how important being married again is, you are so on point. "Have I heard this story before? If you are wondering that the answer is always 'yes. yes you have.'"...and get use to it fast. The main take away is having patience: patience for change, patience for growth, patience for repetition, patience for neweness and the mundane. Congratulations on Top Story!

  • Jay Kantor22 days ago

    Dear Ms. Judey ~ Have you ChosenUp ~ You always "Touch" me with your 'Bra' Schtick Jay

  • Oh Judey, this was gorgeous and so heartfelt. I cannot wait for this episode. This was such a good reminder. I needed to be told to be a cheerleader for sure again. I had forgotten and I'm sad about that. Thank you for this lovely piece! I am SO lucky to have my husband 🥹

  • Mariann Carroll23 days ago

    Very inspirational story. I am so glad you finally with your true love after the other bad love experience. I hope you turn this into a book . 👍🥳

  • All great advice & worthy of practice (always understanding that there are some places one or the other will never be willing to go). Love the song. My absolute favorite from their Pornograffiti album. Which according to one of the youth at a church camp I was helping to lead when the album first came out, means that it's the only one of their songs that I love, lol. Apparently, those who love the group hate this song almost universally.

  • Nice article. All good advice. From being on the receiving end of some of the other side of the page, I totally agree with these, especially lifehack #1. And this is the kind of article that does really well online, you could try sending this sort of content to some online publishers:)

  • Absolutely nailed the answers to this question 👌🙏❤️✨ And in such a conversational tone. I think this is a really outstanding article 🔥

  • Kenny Penn23 days ago

    Spot on, Judey. I’ve just hit 10 years and every item of advice on your post is 💯 percent accurate. Great post! On a side note, Monty Python IS hilarious! 😂😂

  • Babs Iverson23 days ago

    Marvelous!!! Thank you for sharping!!!

  • J. S. Wade23 days ago

    Great article Judey. It’s almost like writing, show, don’t just tell. 😎

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