Psychology Today

Verified by Psychology Today

4 Simple Habits of Happy Couples

Staying in love is easier done than said.

Key points

  • Happy couples report that healthy dialog unites rather than divides.
  • Couples that reminisce about past events that included shared laugher report higher relationship satisfaction.
  • Comfort between partners stems from unconditional love and acceptance, and from not having to “try” to please each other.
Source: Image by Adina Voicu from Pixabay

As I have shared in previous posts, many happy couples devote time to shared activities, prioritize positive communication, and even pray for each other. But in order to enjoy a successful relationship, there is more to the equation than spending time together. Just ask a husband or wife who is celebrating a 50th anniversary. They may have different personal tactics and tips, but when it comes to time management, there is a bit of shared collective wisdom: quality over quantity. It is not the amount of time spent together, but the experience and enjoyment.

Talk It Up

Most partners celebrating their Golden Anniversary will share that silence is not golden. Happy couples do not sit silently in a restaurant, while the rest of us point and project (“I am glad that is not us.”). They talk. About everything. But they also listen—and pay attention to each other. What about topics? Within healthy relationships, there are no topics off the table. Happy couples report that healthy dialog unites rather than divides, keeping the relationship stimulating and timely through airing all types of ideas and ideologies.

Love and Laughter

Couples who laugh together stay together. Yes, you need love, devotion, respect, mutual admiration, and the other components of a quality relationship. But you also need to have fun together. And laughing releases endorphins that make you crave more time together.

Doris Bazzini et al. studied the impact of laughter on relationship satisfaction.[1] Investigating the emotional benefits of reminiscing about positive events as well as the role that laughter plays in successful relationships, they found that couples who reminisced about past events that included shared laugher reported higher relationship satisfaction. Bazzini et al. concluded that their results provide preliminary support for the idea that recalling past laughter may have a more significant impact on relationship satisfaction than reminiscing about other types of positive events.

Selective Attention

Want to remind your spouse why they fell in love with you? Make them feel like they are the only person in the room—even in a crowd. Isn’t that the way you behaved when you first fell in love? Maintain eye contact. Leave your phone in your pocket. Don’t pay equal attention to everyone; selectively focus on your partner—reminding him or her why they feel so lucky to be with you.

If you want to test this one out, try it the next time you are out in public, and see how many people ask whether the two of you are newlyweds. And authentically practicing this discipline of love and respect will make you both feel like you are.

Comfort Counts

Happy couples often jokingly refer to each other as an “old shoe.” This description refers to the feel, not the look. They are not describing each other as worn out, but comfortable to wear. Happy couples love to have each other around because they don’t need to get dressed up or put on airs; they can relax and be “themselves.” Comfort stems from unconditional love and acceptance. From not having to “try” to please, because it comes naturally. So behave like a comfortable shoe for your partner: creating a safe space of expressed affirmation is encouraging, and alluring.

Practice Makes Perfect

The good news is that healthy relational habits are exactly that—habitual behaviors that become second nature. Couples with bad habits can reverse their negative dynamic starting today. Talk, laugh, pay attention, and make each other feel comfortable. Developing and practicing positive habits will improve your relationship with your partner, and the quality of time spent together.

Facebook image: SimonVera/Shutterstock

References

[1] Bazzini, Doris G., Elizabeth R. Stack, Penny D. Martincin, and Carmen P. Davis. 2007. “The Effect of Reminiscing about Laughter on Relationship Satisfaction.” Motivation and Emotion 31 (1): 25–34. doi:10.1007/s11031-006-9045-6.

Read Next

Most Popular