Here's What the Happiest Couples Do Every Day
Being in a relationship can feel like a full-time job. So what’s the secret ingredient to relationship happiness and longevity? The secret is that there isn’t just one secret!
Successful couples do a number of things to keep the spark alive and to manage conflict. The tactics that’ll work for you and your main squeeze will be unique to your relationship and your personalities, but you’re bound to find something on this list that works like a charm.
They Care About Hygiene (and Appearance)
Being in a loving relationship means coming down with the flu without worrying about what your partner thinks. Hygiene still matters, though, regardless of how long you've been together. Don't get lax when it comes to things like brushing your teeth, showering or wearing clean clothes.
The same goes for the rest of your appearance. You don't have to spend every day in the gym or obsess about extra pounds you put on during the holidays. But if you become a much different person from who you were when you first met, relationship problems may follow.
They Know Marriage Isn't Necessarily the Goal
When it comes to what people want in life, love and partnership outweigh marriage. Sharing a life together doesn't have to include marriage, and as social norms change, the tradition of marriage is less important (to some people). Love and partnership, though, have remained priorities.
Some couples do say that getting married made them happier in their relationships. However, that doesn't mean they need to get married to be happy. Today, marriage isn't a prerequisite to a happy, healthy relationship, and those who do get married often do so for love above all else.
Each Person Changes Themselves Instead of Each Other
Accepting the person you’re with is easier and more realistic than attempting to change them. Instead of pressuring them to become someone else, work on improving your outlook. Bonus: Wholeheartedly accepting one another means you’ll get into fewer arguments.
You may also find that you accidentally lead by example. Let’s say it drives you nuts that your girlfriend stays up until 4 a.m. every day. Instead of repeatedly asking her to come to bed, let it go and turn in when you want. By removing the pressure, she may be more encouraged to compromise.
They Make Time for Intimacy and Affection
Happy couples make time to be intimate regularly, and they feel satisfied (if not thrilled) with their level of connection. They may be willing to take chances and think outside the box in the bedroom. While stress can get in the way of intimacy, the strongest couples have alone time at least once a week.
Intimacy isn’t always about sex, either. Affectionate couples hold hands, cuddle while watching a movie or hug each other while sipping coffee in the morning. Bonus points if you can continue being affectionate even when you’re not 100% happy with one another.
They Give Each Other Undivided Attention
Is there anything more annoying than trying to talk to someone as they look back and forth at their phone? Happy couples recognize when one person needs to speak, and they’re glad to listen intently. By looking at your partner while they’re talking, you communicate that they’re important to you.
Furthermore, savvy couples know when one partner wants someone to listen only instead of when they're asking for advice. By listening, even if it means biting your tongue or keeping something to yourself, you show that you know and respect what the other person needs.
They Crack Each Other Up
Laughing is the quickest way to release feel-good endorphins and get in a better mood (and it’s more fun than running a mile). Happy couples make each other laugh or purposely watch something funny, like standup comedy. They go out of their way to inject fun into their time together.
Remember to do this when you least feel like it. A crummy day at work or a relationship fight you’re still recuperating from can vanish after an hour of laughter. Making a point to be lighthearted together can relieve a lot of stress.
Their Main Goal Is Commitment
Happy couples knew they wanted to be committed from the beginning. No, they didn’t necessarily know they wanted to commit to the person they took on a first date, but they knew that they wanted to be in a relationship.
Couples who intend to find something permanent are happier than those who’d originally wanted a fling, even when both types of couples stay together. Plus, you never have to wonder if the other person really wants to be in a relationship or if they feel they got stuck in a commitment they didn't want.
They Regularly Compliment Each Other
Compliments are lovely for the recipient to hear, but they do the giver just as much good. When you compliment your significant other, you remind yourself of all the things you love about them. It's hard to take someone for granted when you compliment them every day.
Compliments can do wonders for self-confidence. Plus, they can make the recipient feel grateful for having you in their life. And they may even start noticing positives to compliment you on. Just remember to keep praise sincere; it can be pretty obvious when someone is forcing a compliment.
They Find Unique Ways to Enjoy Time Together
Quality time is a must if you want to have a solid relationship, but the busier life gets, the harder it is to spend time together. If you're in a long-distance relationship, the struggle is even more real. It's a good thing there's so much tech to help out.
Connecting regularly has never been easier thanks to texting and video calls. Check in throughout the day to find out how the other's doing or to send a funny meme. If you can't be together, schedule FaceTime calls when you have a moment to chat.
But They Also Take Time Apart
Nobody likes feeling suffocated, and spending every second together is a quick way to burn a relationship out. It’s healthy to spend time apart. Happy people understand this and ask for their own time, and they happily allow their partners some alone time, too.
There are big perks to spending time apart. First, you'll get a chance to miss each other, which makes the time you do have together all the more fun and exciting. Second, when you do your own thing every so often, you’ll have more to talk about with your partner.
Nobody Keeps Score
Small and large gestures add up to a happy relationship, but the key is to not keep score. That means not noting what you do for your partner or what they do for you. If you feel guilty for not doing enough or you're upset that you’re not getting more in return, the purpose of those gestures gets lost.
You don’t always have to make a show out of a gesture. Yes, picking up your partner’s favorite dessert on the way home is thoughtful. Nobody should have to beg for praise though, which defeats the purpose.
They’re Polite to One Another
You’d never dream of being rude to someone on a first date, but as you get more comfortable with your other half, manners can fall by the wayside. Make a point to be polite to the person you love. Say "please" and "thank you" and hold the door for one another.
Being polite to each other is about more than doing nice things. It’s about maintaining a level of respect that makes both parties feel valued. You'll also set a fabulous example for your future kids (or anyone who looks up to you as a couple).
They’re on the Same Page About Political and Social Issues
Happy couples don’t just vote; they vote the same way. They share the same outlooks on political and societal issues like gender equality or healthcare. This isn’t an accident — they likely chose partners with similar views from the very beginning.
Happy couples aren't afraid to talk about hot topics, either. They like to talk about their views, and they feel like it’s safe to express their opinions with one another. This has become even more important in recent years as more people become aware of social justice issues and form strong opinions.
They Know How to Handle Boring Life Stuff
Relationships aren’t all romantic getaways and dinners by candlelight. The basic stuff of life creeps in, and the smartest couples know that they should tackle it together. Things like washing the car, packing boxes for a move and running errands are necessities, and doing them together promotes companionship.
This is an opportunity to surprise each other. Make a game of going to the grocery store. Show how spontaneous you can be by stopping midway through shopping to get a fancy lunch. Life may get boring, but you and your S.O. don't have to.
They're Not Afraid to Talk About Money
One of the biggest strains on a marriage is money, and it's no wonder that some of the happiest couples earn high enough combined incomes to be comfortable. But that’s not true for everyone. Covering up money problems or concerns doesn't help your relationship, and they won't go away if you keep quiet.
You not only want to be honest with one another about things like budgeting, savings and debt, but you should also be on the same page about fiscal goals. If you have to, schedule these talks for every quarter or even every month — if not more frequently.
They Have Other Couple Friends
Even if you love nothing more than a night in with your guy or girl, it pays to get out into the world and have a social life. Try to form a joint friendship with at least one other couple. (P.S. It's okay if they're part of your family!)
Seeing what you’re both like when you're around other people can help you fall more in love or remind you of a side of your partner you forgot about. Plus, you'll break out of your shell; new friends introduce new restaurants, activities and ideas.
They Take the Pressure off Big Conversations
Every relationship comes with serious conversations. Whether you're discussing a huge fight, a job loss or your child’s temper tantrums, try to take some of the pressure off.
Sit down when you're both calm and create an environment that'll keep you that way. Turn off the TV and other distractions. Make a pot of tea and take turns talking (set a timer if you have to). Heavy conversations are difficult. Do yourselves a favor and take some of the burn out of them — together.
They Celebrate Mini-Milestones
It's easy to celebrate the significant milestones like your anniversary, but what about the smaller ones that go unnoticed? Think about the experiences you shared, and make events out of them when the dates come around. You could relive your first date by going to the same restaurant and renting the movie you saw.
Also, make a big deal out of small accomplishments. Getting a raise at work, finally training the puppy or running a 5k all deserve their own celebrations. Turn regular life into a special occasion to make your partner feel treasured.
They Express Their Needs Out Loud
The happiest couples can acknowledge what they need and then say what those needs are out loud. You should be able to take in what your partner is telling you and act accordingly (within reason). Each person should feel safe enough to express their authentic feelings.
It's also a good idea to be vocal when your partner does something you like. This is a way of saying, "Hey, I like that; do more of that," without coming off as demanding or controlling. When people feel validated, they're encouraged to repeat that behavior in the future.
They Find or Create Shared Interests
Chances are that you have something in common with your partner; otherwise, it would’ve been hard to start a relationship. As time goes on, you may realize that you have more solo interests than shared ones. That’s okay as long as there are a few things you love doing together.
If a shared interest isn’t apparent, try out each other’s hobbies. Or, try something that’s brand new for both of you. Having at-home cooking competitions, spending a night away at a fancy casino or even indulging in a true-crime TV show can help you bond.
They Flirt (but Only With Each Other)
Even couples who have been together for decades regularly flirt with one another to keep that youthful spark alive. Everyone loves being reminded that somebody finds them attractive. You don't have to stop courting each other even if you've been married for years.
This goes beyond complimenting one another. Send a flirtatious text in the middle of the day. Wear a racy outfit while you cook dinner together. Whisper something sexy when you're out in public. Think about what you did when you were first dating to let your partner know you were interested.
They're Not Opposites Who Attract
When it comes to relationship happiness and longevity, "opposites attract" doesn’t apply. The happiest couples share personality traits, education and income levels, political affiliations and even the amount of power they wield in the relationship.
Not all of that is controllable, and you don't want to say "no" to the perfect person because they have more schooling under their belt. But there are probably some ways in which you're similar, and it'll pay to put those parts of your personality and life experiences at the forefront. Remind yourselves that you're two peas in a pod.
They Get Real About Real Relationships
Relationships don’t stay in the infatuation stage forever. You may wear rose-colored glasses in the beginning stages of a relationship, but once real life settles in and the initial spark dies, you have to get real. Every couple goes through this at some point.
Happy couples don’t let peaks and valleys shock them — they know these are coming and that they’re completely normal. Setting realistic expectations takes the pressure off each person to always be perfect. Then, when the relationship gets stuck in a bit of a rut, you can correct your course instead of assuming you're doomed.
They Don’t Let Problems Get Away From Them
Nobody likes negativity in their relationship, but neglecting to fix a problem is a problem in itself. Successful couples know that to grow their relationships or to maintain the status quo, they have to deal with problems before they get out of hand.
While it’s important to pick your battles, if one arises that’s going to bother you for weeks or months, that’s one to hash out as soon as possible. By not dealing with problems or miscommunications, you’re setting yourself up for a future of holding grudges or exploding once you’ve finally had enough.
They Say "I Love You" in Some Way
There are all types of ways to make a person feel loved. For some people, hearing "I love you" will do it. For others, a different "love language" is necessary. Smart couples realize that what works for one of them won't necessarily work for the other.
They meet each other where they need to. That may mean giving your S.O. a hug or a kiss, bringing home flowers or doing something before they have to ask a second time. Find out what makes your partner feel loved, and make a point to do that regularly.
They Go to Bed at the Same Time
Going to bed at the same time is a reliable way to ensure you have time for each other. That intimacy may be sex, but it may also be your time to talk about something that's on your mind or to just lie near each other while listening to music.
You don't have to be on the same sleep schedule, but if you can both be in bed together, you'll end your day bonded. If one person can't fall asleep at that time, figure out how to read or work while letting the other person rest.
They Always Act Happy to See Each Other
Treating your partner like another piece of furniture makes them feel unworthy. Instead, when your S.O. walks into a room, even if it's just through the front door after work, make a point to show that you're happy to see them. They'll immediately feel positive about your relationship.
If your partner is meeting you out, like at a family gathering, pay special attention to them when they show up. This can cement you as a strong couple and show everyone that you're each other's priority. In a mature relationship, partners don't ignore each other.
They're Not Embarrassed About PDA
The level of PDA you're comfortable with is personal, but happy couples are usually okay with expressing some affection in public. Hold hands when out together, and don't worry about kissing each other or snuggling up if it's cold out.
PDA has a way of making you seem vulnerable to your partner, who will want to nurture you in return. This can also set the tone for how things will be when you get back home. Your closeness will likely continue when you're alone, and then you can put your full affection on display.
They Respect Each Other's Boundaries
Smart couples respect individual boundaries even if they don't share them or understand them. This can mean giving your partner space when they're angry or being available by phone during the day. It may also mean compromising if two of your boundaries clash.
Part of respecting each other's boundaries is being able to communicate them from the beginning. It's unfair to expect your S.O. to innately know what your boundaries are without you expressing them. State your boundaries, explain why you feel that way and then see if your partner is able to accommodate you.
They Do "Hello" and "Goodbye" Rituals
If you live with your significant other, you probably part ways every morning and then see one another at the same time later on. Creating "hello" and "goodbye" rituals helps you both acknowledge that you’re parting or coming back together.
Share a cup of coffee and give each other a kiss before you walk out the door. Sit down with a cup of tea or glass of wine after coming home and talk about your day. Or create whatever rituals work best for your personalities. The point is to have something you can both count on.