Happiness in a relationship is much more than luck; it takes a daily conscious effort to put into practice healthy relational habits. Let’s learn about some of the things that happy couples avoid and see how you can bring more joy into your own relationship.
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1) They don’t complain about their spouse to their friends or family: Happy couples know that it’s best not to involve others in their relationship. They talk directly to their spouse if they have an issue instead of consulting others, who often provide negative feedback that could hurt the relationship. There is nothing wrong with healthy “girl” or “guy” time, but don’t use it as an opportunity to complain about your spouse.
2) They don’t compare their spouse to others: Happy couples accept and love their spouse as is. They know that comparing to others is unrealistic and unfair and will leave them feeling insecure about their marriage. If you do spend time with other couples and you even see better qualities in another spouse, stay confident and don’t second-guess your choice. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, even if it looks like it is.
3) They don’t play the victim: Blaming each other for their problems is not a habit of happy couples. Happy couples take responsibility for their feelings and their role in the relationship. They ask for what they need instead of wallowing in self-pity or blaming their spouse for their situation.
4) They aren’t too serious: Happy couples know how to be happy and have fun. They “date” regularly and laugh a lot. Even when life throws you a curveball and things are extremely stressful, keep things light and fun.
5) They don’t criticize: They look for the good in their spouse, and when they are upset they learn how to ask for their needs in a sensitive way. Happy couples know that criticism only tears the other down and creates a rupture in the relationship. If your spouse is doing something you don’t like, pay attention to why it’s bothering you and learn how to talk about it in a safe way.
6) They avoid ignoring their finances: Happy couples know that financial stress puts pressure on a marriage. They stay on top of their money and communicate about their financial goals so they can make responsible decisions for their future together. If money is a topic you would rather not discuss, know that avoiding it will make money matters worse.
7) They avoid mind reading: Happy couples know how to communicate so that they are aware of each other’s needs and feelings. No matter how connected they feel, they don’t expect their spouse to know what they want or how they are feeling. They spell it out clearly. If you are not getting the attention you need, tell your partner.
8) They avoid “dumping”: Happy couples know that the purpose of sharing their frustrations is to get their needs met and achieve greater connection. They are intentional about when they share, instead of catching them off-guard, unleashing their upset, and fueling the fire of greater conflict. If you have something to get off your chest, first ask, “I’d like to share something with you. Is now a good time?”
9) They aren’t rigid about their roles: Even if they have stereotypical gender roles, happy couples are flexible and are able to do what needs to be done at the moment, even if it’s not their forte. So if your wife is typically the one to get dinner on the table, if she can’t tonight, you can easily step in without a fuss and relieve her of her responsibility.
10) They don’t nag their spouse: Happy couples encourage each other instead of pressuring. They find ways to support each other, and that support is a natural motivator as opposed to nagging, which often backfires. If your husband is out of work, instead of nagging him to go on job interviews, try to raise his morale with your love and support, even if it seems scary. Your genuine encouragement and trust in him will motivate him to move forward.
11) They ignore the societal portrayal of marriage: Happy couples give no credence to the stereotypical putdowns of husbands and wives that are often featured in pop culture. They love each other and don’t seek to belittle, disrespect, or poke fun at each other, as they may see in the media. If you’re not already aware of how common it is for marriage to be the brunt of jokes, begin to notice the subtle and not-so-subtle messages about marriage you may viewing on a daily basis.
An internationally renowned Imago relationship therapist, author, and lecturer, Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin, LCPC works with couples in person in Baltimore, Maryland, and coaches them worldwide via SKYPE. To contact Rabbi Slatkin, please call 443-570-7598, or visit www.CalmCouplesTherapy.com.