Kate Campbell, PhD, LMFT
4 Secrets of Happy Couples
You know that couple. Everyone does. You long for their type of relationship. They just seem so… happy. It's keeping up with the Joneses, not for their house, car, or clothing, but their relationship. What do happy couples do differently and how can you and your partner become a happy couple? Before we go over the four secrets of a happy couple, it's important to remember that happiness looks different for every couple.
One couple may relish a weekly date night to the latest new restaurant in town, while another couple might enjoy ordering in and watching a movie.
No one approach to happiness is better than the other; in fact, because happy couples have found what works for them and their relationship, they experience greater happiness than if they were trying to force it.
4 Secrets to Happy Couples:
The old adage is true: communication is key. Why do so many couples struggle with communication? Communication wasn't always a struggle, but at some point, communication took a backseat. The secret here is happy couples are communicating in more meaningful ways.
This happens over time, especially for couples who've been together for longer periods of time because the novelty of the other person has worn off. You might think you know almost everything there is to know about your partner, but the fact is… there is always more to learn.
Daily communication between couples can get relegated to “Hey, how was your day?” “Fine. Yours?” “Good”, especially when there are so many other things to do, like housework, child care, etc. This makes it important to really think about how we communicate with our partner, taking an active interest in his or her work, hobbies, and activities.
2. Quality Time
Quality time is another key to being a happy couple that can get lost by the wayside as time passes. The secret here is happy couples are couples who are making time to spend quality time together.
Couples who've been together longer may find their time together follows the same routine as their communication style: Friday night going out to dinner, Saturday yard work, Sunday household chores, work on Monday, repeat.
This stagnation can lead to restlessness and boredom in the relationship. It's good to have a routine of waking up together, having coffee together, etc. yet a routine where you as a couple aren't actively connecting can push you apart instead of bringing you closer together.
3. Shared Goals
I'd guess that one of the initial attractions to your partner was all of the dreams and you both shared for your future.
Don't forget about these shared goals! They are absolutely necessary to happiness. Couples with shared goals find happiness in working towards achieving these goals. The secret here is happy couples are working towards their shared goals together.
Goals give couples a sense of purpose and drive, a meaningful way to spend quality time together. It creates unity between the two individuals, rather than distance.
Imagine how connected you feel to the passenger next to you on an airplane. Sure, you're physically headed in the same direction and bond over the time together on your flight, but your reason for heading in the same direction is completely different; maybe you're going on vacation while the passenger next to you is traveling for work.
Now, imagine, or remember, how it feels to be on a flight or trip with your spouse. Not only are you two headed in the same direction, you are also headed there for the same reason. There's a greater feeling of connection between you two because you know when the flight ends, you'll get off together and continue together towards the same end.
4. Fair Fighting
Happy couples fight. It's true! No matter how happy a couple is, they fight. The secret is, happy couples fight fair. Happiness in a relationship is not the absence of conflict, but managing conflict in a way that is constructive versus destructive.
Just like there are rules in boxing about what's not okay in a fight, there are rules for when couples fight. Couples who fight fairly follow the “Don’ts” of:
Don't name call or use derogatory language toward your partner
Don’t respond with sarcasm or contempt
Don't blame your partner
And they use the “Dos” of:
Do use “I feel” statements; “I feel upset when dishes aren’t done”
Do work to understand your partner’s perspective and work toward compromises
Do take responsibility for your part in the dynamic
Conflict is a normal part of any relationship. When you fight, you can resolve your issues and concerns in a constructive manner and both of you walk away feeling closer to one another.
There you have it, my 4 secrets for happy couples. Not so secret anymore! For any couple (or individual who is in a relationship) reading this and thinking, “I need help applying these secrets”, don’t hesitate! I offer marriage counseling and couples therapy in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I’m just a phone call at 954-391-5305 or click away from helping you achieve your goals.