I'm going to start my opinion tonight by stating that I am not even going to pretend that I know everything about a happy marriage or happy family, that we are the happiest or anything at all like that. This is simply my opinion on what I think works or what I've noticed around me.
I strongly believe that to have a happy family, you have to have your priorities in order. Everyone's priorities are different. For me, my immediate family is at the very tippity top of my priority chart. I love them with everything I am. I can't help it. I put their needs, wants, desires and well being above all else.
I do strongly believe that the relationship you have with your spouse should come first. When you put your marriage first, your children thrive. When you put your marriage first, you continue a relationship with someone who will still be there long after your children are up and out of the house. When you put your marriage first, you have a best friend to get through it all with. When you put your spouse first, you teach your children that their wants do not come before another's needs.
When you have a happy marriage, you have a happier home. When the bickering is limited, kids get to feel more secure and have a happy place in the home.
For me, the trick starts with never thinking you have a perfect marriage. As soon as you think your marriage is perfect, you stop working at it. Once you stop working at it, adjusting for the growth and development you'll each achieve every day, it's no longer perfect.
Being married is really hard work. You are two people who are evolving every day, you are around each other each and every day, you are in high stress situations, sometimes surviving on lack of sleep and constantly having to be sure that you are being considerate of someone else and realizing the world does not revolve around YOU.
I personally think that having a happy family is a result of putting your family first, practicing selflessness, enjoying each and every day, finding something to smile about every day, thinking in the day instead of the past and future, being free with your love, hugs and kisses and realizing that everyone has a bad day, accept it and move on.
There's no such thing as a perfect marriage or a perfect family, even if you read about it on blogs or on facebook. The only perfect marriage are the ones you'll hear about in divorce court. A good marriage is something that is a constant work in progress.