When you think of a “happy couple,” does your mind automatically think of newlyweds or any couple in the honeymoon phase of their relationship?
We know this is usually the time when romantic partners are happiest – they are crazy in love and crazy about each other (for now, right?)
But there are couples who make it. I’m not saying their whole relationship is moonshine and roses and lovey-doveyness. You have to work on a relationship for it to be balanced, healthy, and strong.
Couples who put in the effort are the ones who stay together, and they build happiness.
What’s their secret?
Psst… Happy couples have certain habits. Read on so you can learn about these habits and have a healthy, happy romantic partnership with your loved one.
10 Habits You Need for a Healthy, Happy Relationship
Habits don’t just become habits when you follow through once or twice. You and your partner need to put in the effort, and only then, can you reap the rewards.
Here are the habits happy couples have:
1. Express Gratitude and Appreciation
Happiness is something that is inside you, and when you are grateful, you increase how happy you feel.
You can be grateful for the big AND the “little” things in your life, grateful to your partner for what joy they contribute, and show your appreciation often. When you feel valued and appreciated by your partner, and they feel the same, you will be happier more often because you know you have a lot to be grateful for.
You don’t have to verbally express your gratitude and appreciation every day. You can give your partner a hug or a kiss, put a hand on their arm, cuddle, write a “thank you” note, or make their favorite cup of jo or dinner or dessert to say you are grateful.
2. Be Kind, Randomly
Kindness doesn’t cost you anything, yet it can bring you the world of joy. Happy couples practice random acts of kindness to show their love.
How would you feel if you discovered your partner filled up your car? Or got milk? Or helped the kids with their homework? Or did the laundry and ironing and folding and packing away? Or just showed up at work to treat you to a nice lunch?
You are more likely to be a happy couple in your relationship when you and your partner are generous and go the extra mile for each other.
3. Have Fun, and Celebrate
When you settle into your relationship or marriage, life gets crazy, and it gets more task-oriented than anything else.
Who will pick up the kids?
When are you going grocery shopping?
I need to stay for that meeting, so can you make dinner?
Did you get the dry cleaning?
Did you book the airline tickets?
See? Sound familiar?
But life isn’t just about moving from task to task, and chasing the next thing. You should enjoy your life too and make the most of it. That means finding (and making) time for stress-free fun.
Invest in fun, celebrate all the good moments, and you’ll see how much happier you’ll be as a couple.
4. Invite Connection
Since you are in a relationship with someone, chances are you already have a connection with your partner. It’s easy to feel disconnected when life gets busy, when you feel stressed, or when there’s challenges to focus on.
Make a point to reconnect with your partner at least once a day. It doesn’t have to be a huge, awe-inspiring moment. The “little” moments count too, and sometimes they mean the most.
When you make a bid to connect, you make your partner feel even more like they are part of your life and your journey. And you’ll find that your partner will respond openly and positively to these invitations to connect.
Examples of connection invitations are:
Remember that connecting helps you turn toward each other (and not away from each other).
5. Have Deep Conversations
Sure, it’s important to chat about the weather, the big upcoming sale and how much money you are planning to save, and that funny comment your boss made over lunch. But do these conversations nourish your soul?
It isn’t easy the first (or second, or third) time you have a deep, meaningful conversation with your partner, but it is so worthwhile. You’ll find out where you share views on things, how differently but uniquely your partner views the world, and what ultimately makes them tick.
These kinds of soul-searching conversations bring meaning to your life, and they help you build a stronger bond with your loved one as you foster a deeper connection. You may discover you love your partner even more, and this can bring more happiness to your shared lives.
So make it a habit to dive deep every now and again, and revisit interesting topics and conversations once you’ve had a chance to reflect on what you both shared.
6. Fight Fairly
No two people are the same, so it seems unlikely that you and your partner will see eye to eye on every single thing. There’s bound to be disagreement, arguments, and conflict.
Some things are worth fighting for, but it’s how you handle a challenge and how you fight that determines whether your relationship is healthy.
Fighting fairly means you don’t criticize, you don’t get defensive, you don’t stonewall, you don’t bring up something your partner did a hundred years ago and hold it over their heads, and you don’t engage in contempt. Yes, I get that you feel the need to self-protect, but fighting dirty means no one wins and no one is happy.
7. Ask When You Need Something
Can you read your partner’s mind? Can they read yours? I’m sure you may feel so connected at times that it feels like your partner read your mind when they just knew what you needed out of the blue.
But no one can read anyone’s mind, even though some of us are a bit more intuitive and considerate than others, and we try to anticipate needs. But honestly? No one can meet their loved one’s needs all the time, or even most of it.
So when you need something, ask. It is your responsibility to share your needs, feelings, and thoughts – mindfully – in a relationship. You don’t want your partner to assume and get it wrong.
Clearly communicating your needs reduces the chance for error. And if your partner is a bit shy about vocalizing their needs, ask them.
Happy couples openly talk about their needs and desires, they work to meet these needs, and when they can’t, they compromise (without resentment).
8. Have and Enforce Healthy Boundaries
Another habit happy couples have is to have and enforce healthy boundaries. When you set healthy boundaries, your partner knows what’s expected of them and they know where the proverbial line is in the sand.
When romantic partners respect each other’s boundaries, they feel safe in the relationship, and talking about boundaries ensures that everyone’s needs are met in a way that works for both partners.
When you don’t have boundaries, it’s easy for one person to feel like they are being taken advantage of or that they are putting in all the effort or that the other person just walks all over them with no regard to seeing them.
Consider your physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, and digital boundaries. Have your partner consider theirs, and then share with each other so you can be on the same page.
9. Keep Their Independence
In the early stages of your relationship, it’s normal to want to spend every waking moment together. But you are still an individual, and so is your loved one. That means you can be close AND independent.
Your partner fell in love with YOU. When you want to go everywhere with your partner and do what they do or just do activities together, you lose a little bit of your identity, until you are both just a collective.
So remember that it’s ok to take time to do things you like (even if your partner doesn’t) and spend time apart. In fact, it’s something you should insist on because this is another habit healthy couples have.
10. Love Unconditionally
No one is perfect, but to love – really love – means to love unconditionally. This means you accept your partner’s flaws and warts together with their (inner and outer) beauty and brilliance.
Don’t think you can change your partner (they can only change when they are invested to do so) and don’t think you can fix them (you can’t, but you can be there for them). Love your partner for who they are, and if you adore their shortcomings, you get extra bonus/brownie points.
Final Thoughts on Happy Couple Habits
A happy couple has a healthy relationship. But it is a relationship they work on, and building these kinds of habits fosters happiness within themselves and with each other.
Remember to love ALL of your partner (strengths and shortcomings), connect every day, have fun, and fight fairly.