My husband and I are very happy together, but it took a lot of work to figure out how to be happy together even though we love each other.
We are very different people, and while we both admire the others strengths, we used to despise the other's weaknesses. We've learned to back off on that, and just accept what is, and focus on what we like about the other one.
We both deeply value our relationship and feel lucky and blessed to have each other. I think this is key, and that without BOTH partners feeling this way, there's nothing to get a couple through difficult times.
We both take responsibility for our own happiness. It is not my job to figure out how to make him happy, and it isn't his job to figure out how to make me happy. This is HUGE.Back in the old days before we hit our relationship stride, I put a lot of energy into trying to make him happy, and found it frustrating when it didn't work. I also blamed him a lot for my own feelings. A turning point in our marriage was when I stopped all that nonsense.
I didn't know what to look for in a partner, and feel that I got lucky. We spent a lot of time drinking together -- we were both idiots.
With hindsight, my husband's traits that have helped us figure out this marriage thing are character traits. He is honest, hardworking, responsible, not about his ego, and feels that being a "good man" is about how he does as a husband and father.
My part to play has been to avoid bringing all the crap from my family of origin into my marriage, to truly deal with my own sh*t, to take responsibility for my own feelings, to communicate clearly about what I need, and to give him space to be himself.