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He had finally gotten married.
Our old, inseparable college group came together to celebrate the happy occasion that somehow felt like the beginning of a new era.
The vibe was evident—laughs, hugs, selfies, and cheers filled the space around our lively wedding guest table. After all, it was nice to welcome our dear friend, Tim, into the married club. Tim had been the last of us to tie the knot—almost eight years after Richard and I got married.
I sat at our table to savor one of the hors d’oeuvres and saw a small card set on my plate. It was a note from the bride. I opened the card curiously and saw the question: What is the secret to a happy marriage?
I thought about my own relationship. A lot has happened between the first time I saw Richard sitting on the couch in Tim’s living room 11 years ago and this moment here at Tim’s wedding day.
We are completely different people, and we are still in love. I feel grateful for that, and I said a silent wish for Tim and his new wife to enjoy the same type of journey. I knew exactly what our secret has been. I could answer in one single sentence.
Ask for what you want.
It seems simple, as it often is with the truth, but there is deep, practical meaning behind this single phrase, and this is how I’d explain it:
Dear new bride,
Ask for what you want.
Don’t let little things get in the way of your happiness. I know you are a romantic at heart, just like I am, so please know that fiery relationships don’t happen if you are waiting for your partner to read your mind. You are incredibly lucky to have someone who truly loves you, someone who gets you.
Trust, be courageous, honest, and stay committed. These values are the foundation of a happy relationship.
Trust that your partner has the willingness to take care of you—you chose each other. Trust he is open to listen to your requests without shaming or judgement.
I’ll tell you one of the first things I asked for when I got married. At that time, I was still young and insecure about not being good enough. I had a weird need to know he cared—even after being married, I know! So, you know what I asked for?
Give me a hug and say “I love you” every day before you go to work.
That’s all I needed, a little gesture to take away my unfounded fears. To this day, he does this every morning, and still makes my day even though I’m no longer that little girl in need of validation.
Not all the asks need to be about your emotional needs—they could be anything that brings your vision of a happy relationship to life. There was a time when Richard and I were stuck in a habit of Netflix and chill. I started to worry about our boring routine, so I proposed that once a week, we’d surprise each other with a mini adventure away from the couch. Of course, he was down, and we had some of the most memorable dates that way.
Have the courage to show yourself as you truly are. Be aware of what you need, and know that you deserve true love. If you want flowers, ask for flowers. If you want him to carry you to bed and kiss you passionately, ask for it. If you want to be surprised, ask for it. If you want more sexy time, let him know, don’t be shy.
Communicate with honesty at all times. Do not repress, pretend to let it go, wait for later, or expect him to read your mind. I used to get annoyed at Richard for leaving his socks on the floor in the living room. Richard used to get annoyed at me leaving the shower curtain open after my bath. There was no reason for us to bring that type of silly bitterness into our sweet love. I just asked him to pick the socks up, and he asked me to close the shower curtain. Boom! Problem solved. Small annoyances have a way of rotting away love—just ask for what you want, and let him know he has the right to ask too.
Stay committed to the future you are building together. Asking for what you want helps to make a rosy day, but don’t stop there. Ask for the things you see in your future. Do you want kids? Do you want to live abroad? What do you want to do for your parents when they are too old to be alone? Put it on the table and talk about it…often.
This type of asking opens a conversation about more than just logistics. It’s about staying connected to who you are as a couple. It’s about getting excited about building something together. You’ll find out that you will have to compromise, and that you’ll change your mind many times.
Over the years, you will have times of doubt and trouble, so just remember this:
You are a team, you can count on each other, you won’t get anything if you don’t ask, and whatever comes up, you can figure it out—together.”
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