No two marriages are the same, which is why attending a wedding celebration is such an honor. Not only does the day reflect the couple, but it gives a little glimpse at what their life together will look like. For some, that means yummy food and lots of moves on the dance floor, and for others, it means an intimate get-together with live music and relaxed vibes. While every step of the wedding planning process takes time, from choosing a wedding venue to designing wedding invitations, the real journey does not begin until after the cake has been devoured and the thank you notes have been sent.
While we love weddings, what we really love is the bond of two people coming together as one. That’s why, for us, it’s all the days after the “I do” that really make the couple.
We asked 26 married couples of all ages what makes a relationship work. From communication and mutual respect, to snacks to and having your own comforters, here’s how—and why—these married couples keep their relationship quality strong and their connection steadfast:
“One of us ALWAYS breaks the tension during an argument by cracking a joke. It eases the tension and kinda reminds us that we’re on the same team. -Madelyn and Thomas, almost married
“From day one has worked because we’ve always been on the same page. Whether it be how we communicate (we’ve both agreed we’d never yell at each other — it solves nothing), where we see life taking us (vacations, kids, work, etc) and how much family means to both of us. What makes our marriage so special, in my opinion, is our origin. We met on Bumble, and I believe in my heart of hearts it was love at first site. You hear so many horror stories when it comes to dating apps, but the moment we met we were just so comfortable with each other. We love spending time together, and while we both love doing our own things, we can’t wait to be back together. It’s like they say: ‘When something great happens you want to share it with your best friend,’ and we really are best friends!” -Mimi and Taylor, married for one month.
“Our marriage works because no matter how mad we can get at each other, we always make a point to talk it out and listen to exactly how the other is feeling. We constantly joke with each other, and overall are best friends. I count my blessings daily that I was able to marry such a great guy!” -Sophia and Jake, married for six months
“Our relationship works because we are both on the same life path and want the same things. It also works because we both don’t like confrontation, so we nip things in the bud before they become an issue.” -Daniel and Virginia, married for seven months
“We’re not afraid to be vulnerable with one another.” -Laura and Alex, married for eight months
“We always make each other a priority. No matter what, we want to be sure the other is comfortable with what we’re doing, where we’re going, etc. We’ve never had a “selfish” mentality where we feel one’s needs are more important than the other. We are and always have been a team and each other’s biggest cheerleaders. -Andre and Stacey, married for one year
“Separate comforters! I’m a deep sleeper who’s always cold, while my husband is the world’s lightest sleeper and also a personal space heater. While opposites may attract in relationships, opposites do not lead to ideal sleeping situations! Before splurging for two comforters, we would both sleep horribly, therefore waking up in a bad mood. God forbid one of us managed to get a good night’s sleep, the other felt resentful. Now we both go to bed with our ideal comforters and wake up ready to take on the world together!” -Kelsea and Dave, married for one year and five months
“I had a series of health problems start at the beginning of our relationship, and instead of breaking us apart, it brought us closer. We learned how to be patient, understanding, loving, and so much more in such a short time. We took that from a relationship to an engagement and now to our marriage. I wouldn’t trade everything I went through if it meant losing what we have now.” -Katie and Nick, married for almost two years
“Marriage is weird. Choosing to spend the rest of your life with one human being? It’s weird! It never really made sense to me, until all of a sudden it did. It’s not perfect, but no marriage is perfect. That would be so boring! Our marriage works because we keep growing with each other, and we push each other to be only better individuals, but better halves to our whole.” -Brittany and Cliff, married for two years
“We love each other for little things and always tell each other what we appreciate.” -(another) Katie and Nick,” married for two and a half years
“Laughter. We laugh a lot. We dance in the kitchen. We tell each other when we need alone time and when we want to hang out. We try to be aware of our own feelings and catch ourselves when we get defensive. We say ‘I love you,’ often, and ‘I’m sorry’ an equal amount. In short, we just really like hanging out together! And food, we eat a lot of food.” -Rachel and Jon, married for two years and eight months
“Honesty is the foundation to any healthy relationship, whether it be honesty to your own needs or when you really mess up. Letting the other person know you fully is key. We also like to plan in advance. It helps us keep each other motivated and growing and you get to fall in love with your partner anew.” -Alejandro and Gabriel, married almost three years
“We take the time to recognize when the other is in need of help, even if we don’t want to admit it. My husband and I pay attention when the other talks and when they don’t, and THEN we decide how to help.” -Ashley and Mike, married for almost three years
“I don’t want to pretend that it works without daily effort. I think even on our best days, marriage is still work. But what I appreciate about our commitment is the commitment we have to our own introspection. We each see a therapist and invest in our own personal growth. I think if we stopped working on ourselves as individuals, our relationship would have run its course long ago. -Jazmine and Jordan, Dallas, married for three and a half years
“We just like each other as people, so we talk all the time, enjoy being together, and see each other as equals. It all goes back to mutual respect.” -Alexa and Jen, married for three years nine months
“I would argue that a marriage is just a different level of friendship. There is no secret recipe for making that successful besides finding someone who you are willing to put in the effort for and who will reciprocate that effort in return.” -Rob and Morgan, married for four years
“Quality time is very important to me and therefore that translates into not just being together but setting aside special time like a date night to spend together unburdened from responsibility or housework.” -Shannon and Mona, married for five years
“We each get our own space! He’s a fireman and not home all the time. Honestly, I could never be married to anyone if I had to see them every day. He respects my independence, and whether we’re physically together or apart, we always feel the love.” -Amanda and Casy, married for eight years
“Communication! It’s lots of give and take. Additionally, we never go to bed angry and always (always!) kiss each other good night.” -Adam and Heather married for 10 years
“Conflict is inevitable, and how you deal with it is everything. I can read my husband’s moods, tone of voice, and body language to understand if he is stressed and might be unintentionally taking that out on me, or if I have actually done something to hurt his feelings. I try my best to come at conflict from a place of empathy instead of being defensive. These moments can be the biggest opportunity to build bonds of trust and strengthen a partnership. However, I have also found that 80% of the time, giving the aggravated party a snack usually solves things too!” -Megan and Lenny, married for 15 years
“We respect each other’s time and boundaries. We’re realistic and recognize change is good and healthy!” -Adam and Ben, married for 20 years
“The key to marriage is to never think you’re done growing and always challenge your other half to be better than they were yesterday.” -Elise and Jason, married for 25 years
“It’s okay to have different hobbies, likes, or dislikes. We are two different people! For so long I wanted my husband to adopt all of my favorite things and vice versa. But we now see the value in each of us doing (or buying) what makes us happy and fulfilled. It’s all about being the best version not only for ourselves but for each other and our relationship together.” -Lucy and Mark, married 30 years
"Choose to forgive. Don’t stay mad long. Be nice to each other and think of the other person before yourself. Find new experiences to do together. Laugh... and have sex in different places and times of the day!" -Kati and Richard, married 37 years
“Stop sweating the small stuff. The dishes in the sink, the socks left on the floor, the time he forgot to pick up peaches — none of it really matters. It’s all about looking at this flawed person you love, remember why you’re with them, and enjoying every second, good and bad, you get together." -Sarah and John married 40 years
“Do go to bed mad. One time I wanted to stay up until all was resolved. Finally, my husband said ‘I'm tired’ and went to bed. I sat on the couch thinking he would come fetch me. He didn't, so I joined him in bed. When we ate breakfast together in the morning, the disagreement was much milder!” -Sandra, married 55 years to her late, beloved Tony
These successful couples have different stories, but they all share having found the right person and true love. Different things can make a committed relationship work for different people, and that's alright. Relationships are not one-size-fits-all, and what might work for one happy couple won't work for everyone.