Healthy couples and lifelong fulfilling relationships do not just happen by accident. They are created consciously over time through mindful, mutual effort and sacrifice.
It starts with showing your partner affection today in a dozen little ways – searching for small consistent gestures that alone feel tiny but add up to a truly meaningful and personal relationship experience.
It’s about stringing the little wins of each day together to create a week, a month, a year, and then decades of shared joy. That’s right, lifelong health and happiness as a couple is built through daily devotion. Here’s what my extensive experience coaching hundreds of married couples has told me about what healthy couples do differently:
1. They commit to digging up the diamonds in the rough.
It can sometimes be a daunting task to see the good in your partner when the days are long, the kids are screaming, and the bank account is looking barren. With the turbulence sent our way by everyday life, shining a spotlight on the things that drive us crazy about our partners can easily become an unconscious bad habit. But you must flip the switch on this!
Instead of gawking at their faults, make it a game to dig up all the things you love about them, especially in the moments that you’re struggling with them. It’s easy to love our partners when the sailing is smooth, but learning to love them when the waters get rough is where a truly unstoppable team is built.
The next time you’re frustrated, flip it around. Find two things in that moment that you love and appreciate about your partner.
2. They sleep together… with a smile.
Quit keeping score before you crawl into bed. Everything doesn’t have to be resolved, but anger does need to be pacified.
In a recent study by the Journal of Neuroscience, scientists used some real life science and data to debunk the age-old cliché that you must completely ‘make up’ before bed. The bottom line is that an unresolved argument before bed is OK, so long as emotions are not raging and wild. However, keep in mind that going to bed after harboring extreme negative emotions can reinforce them or “preserve” them.
If you can’t resolve an argument before bed, at the very least make it a point to turn over and tell your partner you love them before falling asleep. The simple shift in tension will be a great start in waking up ready to begin resolving the issue.
3. They send micro-messages of appreciation to each other.
Between busy schedules and long days, finding time to tell our partners how much we appreciate them can get unexpectedly lost in the busyness. But did you know the happiest, healthiest couples talk at least five hours a week? You may not think you have an extra five hours just lying around to chat, but committed and caring partners always look for little ways to send tiny reminders of their appreciation on a consistent basis. A simple text message to remind them of your gratitude and love can go a long way.
Try personalizing one of these awesome text message ideas to bring a smile to your partner’s face today:
I love you in the morning, in the middle of the day, in the hours we are together, and the hours we are apart. xoxo
You’ve seen me at my best and my worst, yet you love me anyway. It’s awesome to be your (nickname/husband/wife).
Please let me know what I did to deserve you…I want to make sure I keep on doing it. Love you!
Want to level-up communication with your spouse in the way that works best for BOTH of you?
4. They are constantly “in touch” with one another.
Whether it is a gentle caress on the face as they pass each other in the kitchen or a playful pat on the backside, healthy couples carve out time to enjoy physical intimacy with each other. You can follow their lead…
Hold hands no matter how long you have been together or where you are.
Sit close on the couch as you cuddle.
Squeeze in on the same side of the booth at a restaurant for added connection and touch.
Make it a priority to hug each other hello and goodbye when either of you enter or leave the house.
The only difference between friendships and the connection you share with your partner is the intimacy.
Both your partner and best friends will likely hear the most intimate details of your life, and you will likely create more space on your calendar for them than anyone else. But only your partner gets to see and feel you in an intimate way. This is an important distinction. If your partnership is feeling more like a friendship, you may need to consciously create moments of intimate touching to revive the physical connection you two share.
5. They don’t let outsiders call the shots in their relationship.
Connected, fulfilled and harmonious couples base their lifestyle, their decisions, and their goals on what they mutually want as a couple, not what they think looks good to others.
They do their best not to conform to the outside pressures of living a certain way, making a certain amount of money, owning certain things, etc. The life they create together is for their enjoyment and happiness. They work hard to let their shared inner compass as a couple, not the pressures of outside forces or opinions, lead their shared journey.
The bottom line is that not everyone will agree with how you and your partner run your relationship, but that’s perfectly OK because it will be just right for the two of you.
6. They make being happy a priority over being right.
What would happen if in your next moment of frustration with your partner you focused on being happy together instead of being right as an individual?
Blaming each other only delays discovering the solution that will move your relationship forward.
Focusing on who’s more right is a time-waster, and healthy couples know it. Instead of blaming each other for having a difference of opinion, they quickly turn to brainstorming about how they can come to a compromise, together.
Keep in mind that the biggest roadblocks to abundant health and happiness in our relationships are often not outside sources, but attachment to our own egos. It’s time to let go and grow together as one.
7. They don’t play games – they’re smart enough to know no one wins.
Reading between the lines and ‘guessing games’ don’t appeal to healthy couples. They don’t create drama where there is none, and they don’t assign motives that aren’t there. They take their partner at their word, and they assume he or she is always coming from a good place. If there is confusion, they don’t draw their own conclusions, they ask questions to clarify
Mature and loving couples know that there are enough real problems in the world without creating bogus ones. Communication is king.
8. They behave as if their partner is always beside them.
Secrets and lies will slowly drain a relationship of trust and love. If you wouldn’t want your partner to know what you’re doing, should you really be doing it?
The next time you’re about to make a decision, ask yourself if you would make the same choice if your partner were present. If not, you shouldn’t be doing it.
Healthy couples who have been together for years know that it’s better to have a difficult conversation about negative spending, eating, or other personal habits than it is to lie or try to cover things up. A strong relationship can work through problems, but only if both parties know about them.
9. They are patient, respectful and forgiving of each other’s humanness.
This one comes right out of the “Relationships” chapter of Marc and Angel’s book, 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently:
“Healthy couples understand that apologies are important, and that they must be backed by sincere patience and forgiveness. Because no matter how honest and kind you try to be, you will occasionally step on your partner’s toes. And this is precisely why patience and forgiveness are so vital to relationships. Patience is simply the ability to let your light shine on the one you love, even after your fuse has blown. And forgiveness is knowing deep down that they didn’t mean to blow your fuse in the first place.
Truth be told, even the healthiest couples on Earth are still just two imperfect humans. At times, the confident lose confidence, the patient misplace their patience, the generous act selfish, and the knowledgeable second guess what they know. It happens to the best of us. We make mistakes, we lose our tempers, and we get caught off guard. We stumble, we slip, and we spin out of control sometimes. But that’s the worst of it; we all have our moments. Most of the time we’re remarkable. So stand beside the one you love through their trying times of imperfection. If you aren’t willing to, you really don’t deserve to be around for their perfect moments either.”
By compiling this short list of nine, I’m not suggesting that these are the only keys to creating a healthy relationship; I’m simply shedding light on some common relationship habits that can make all the difference in the end.
Again, healthy couples do not happen by chance. They are created through conscious and consistent effort.
And the best part is, a happier, healthier relationship can start with just ONE partner – YOU! If you’re committed to having the best partnership possible, choose just one or two of the habits above and implement them today. Set a great example and see how it affects your relationship over the next several days.
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