Ever seen a couple and think, “What’s their secret?” Some couples just seem to have all the answers on how to be happy. We went to the experts to find out exactly what it is those couples know — and now you can be in on the secret, too.
1. The relationship is a priority.
Life — especially life with kids — is busy. It’s easy to fill the hours of your day with childcare, work, friends, and other commitments. “Happy couples make their relationship a priority and work together to nurture it,” says Rachel Dinero, Ph.D, an assistant professor at Cazenovia College. The advantage they have is that when they have a problem, “these couples really listen to each other and know that making the relationship work is more important than winning a fight.”
2. Think of your partner as your ally.
When you’re stressed, it’s natural to look around for what might be causing the problem, says Craig Malkin, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist who has done research exploring the impact of children on marriage. For couples, that means a fair — or perhaps unfair — amount of finger-pointing. “Sometimes it’s better to accept that a situation is hard, no matter what your partner does or doesn’t do—and seek his support. You can bond and even laugh over stress if you quit finding fault,” says Dr. Malkin.
3. Dating doesn’t end when you say “I do.”
Romance and courting are critical to the success of your relationship. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be dating, says relationship expert and coach Tristan Coopersmith, author of MENu Dating. “Staying connected to what originally connected you – those butterfly feelings – gives couple staying power.” And the couples who do that best are the ones who genuinely like each other, she says.
4. Kindness is key.
If all your information comes from the media, you probably believe that couples are supposed to be snarky and sarcastic. “Although the press may be bored by politeness, kindness and happiness, those traits will make your partner and your relationship flourish and blossom,” says Dr. Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D (aka “Dr. Romance”), psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage. “Consider kindness to be the lubricant of your communication; and expressing love to be the fertilizer that makes the relationship bloom.”
5. Some problems can’t be solved.
You can’t expect to spend years — or decades — with someone without experiencing legitimate disagreements. “Rather than expending wasted energy, agree to disagree,” says Dennis Lin, M.D, a relationship expert and sex psychologist. Happy couples choose constructive ways “to work through such issues — through compromise, change, or finding it’s just not that important to stew over.
The test of a happy relationship is how they choose,” he says.
Make an effort to nurture your relationship by putting these secrets into practice. You’ll find they keep your marriage thriving.