Right now, the divorce rate in the United States is hovering around 50 percent. That means that approximately half of the couples in the U.S. were probably pretty unhappy and did something about it (i.e. got a divorce). But if you’re a glass half full kind of gal like myself, then you might realize that half of the U.S. couples are happy. And it might make you wonder what the everyday habits of the happiest couples are.
Do you ever look at a couple and think, “How did they get so happy?” And not like, Facebook fake happy, but legit happy. Whether you’re married or not, been with your sweetie for years or a few months, it’s always good to take a looksie into other people’s relationships (purely for research purposes of course) to see what makes them happy together.
My husband and I have been together since we were teenagers. And to this day, when I see the headlights from his car coming down the driveway after work, I feel happy. I love seeing him smiling as he comes through the door, and even as he’s being swarmed by kids, we still manage to share a few moments together. But even though we’re quite content, it’s still nice to know how other couples keep it together and make it work. Hopefully these 11 habits will help shape your relationship for the better — or remind you of why your state of the union is so solid and awesome in the first place.
1. They Don’t Take It Personally
When it comes to relationships, you definitely have to pick and choose your battles. Happy couples know what to let slide off of their backs and not to take issue with. “The happiest couples simply focus on the positive and don’t take the annoying things their partner does personally,” Dr. Jennifer B. Rhodes, a relationship expert, tells Romper. So if your sweetie still leaves the toilet seat up or (ahem) bunches his socks up and leaves them by the front door, just do an Idina Menzel and "Let It Go".
2. They Do New Things
When you’re with someone for a long time, it’s easy to fall into ruts and routines. That’s why you need to shake it up and find fun new things to do together. “Find one activity that neither of you has done before,” Stacey Greene, author of Stronger Than Broken, tells Romper. “Many couples might have a competitive nature, and if one partner is proficient, or an expert, then the other one feels like he can never measure up.” Discover a new hobby that you can both explore (and enjoy) together, like skiing, or taking a cool culinary class.
3. They Dream Together
Whether it’s a trip to Greece or adding an addition on to your home, happy couples dream together. “Happy couples are those who have a shared outlook on life,” Babita Spinelli, LP, tells Romper. “They continue to dream together about things such as fun future travel or a home they want to build.” Making future plans shows a commitment to your relationship and to each other that can help you fall in love with your partner all over again.
4. They Check In
Every day, my hubby calls me on his way home from work. And I look forward to that call, because it’s our way of connecting before he comes home and he gets sucked up in the swirling vortex of who’s not eating dinner, who needs help with their homework, or who needs a ride somewhere. “Healthy couples always have their spouse on their mind,” Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin, a licensed clinical professional counselor, tells Romper. “When they go grocery shopping, they think about what their spouse would like. They will think about what he/she will want for dinner.” And it is this element of consideration and giving that helps each other feel cared for and connected to their partner.
5. They Eat Together
Look, we all know that sitting down together and eating as a family isn’t always a reality. But when it is possible, do it, as Beth Sonnenberg, LCSW, a relationship expert, tells Romper. “Sit together for meals as much as possible throughout the week, even if you’re not eating at the same time,” says Sonnenberg. For example, I might eat ahead of time (sorry Michell), but I’ll sit with him while he eats his dinner. It’s about sharing time together, not breaking bread together.
6. They Respect Each Other
Happy couples love their partner, flaws and all. (Well, most of the time.) “The main difference between happy and unhappy couples is the level to each they allow each other to truly be who they are,” Victoria Rader Ph.D., a transformation energy expert, explains to Romper. “It is the commitment to love each other through acceptance.” It doesn’t mean that your partner’s annoying habits become less irritating; it means that you know it’s just a small component of the overall character of the person you love.
7. They Put In The Effort
When you see a happy couple, know that they didn’t get that way by accident. It takes a lot of work to make things, well, work. “They focus on what they put into the relationship rather then what they get out of it,” say Suzie and James Pawelski, husband/wife co-authors of Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts. In short, they realize that happily ever after doesn’t just happen, but that it takes effort.
8. They Get It On
You knew it was coming. (Ha.) Happy couples get that way because they’re getting it on. A lot. “Have sex, as much as possible,” Diana Venckunaite, a certified life and relationship coach, tells Romper. “Even the worst days need a release of emotion and fun.” Even though you’re tired, and you’ve probably spent the greater part of your day with a kid climbing all over you, make some one-on-one time with your partner, even if you have to schedule it on the calendar. You won’t regret it afterwards.
9. They Show Their Appreciation
After dinner every night, my hubby thanks me for cooking. He has done this for as long as I have known him. He doesn’t have to, but when he does, it makes me feel even more appreciated. “Happy couples remember to say thanks and show appreciation for the little things their partner does that show caring and support,” Toni Coleman, LCSW, a psychotherapist and relationship coach, explains to Romper. So look for ways to weave in compliments or say a simple thanks for taking your kid to school since he missed the morning bus — your actions won’t go by unnoticed.
10. They Surprise Each Other
It’s easy for your relationship to become ho hum over time. That’s where spicing it up with little surprises can make all the difference in the world. “Relationships can quickly turn stale and boring as both partners settle into routines,” Jonathan Bennett, a certified counselor, tells Romper. Happy couples will mix things up with little surprises to keep the relationship fresh, like bringing you. This could something as packing a little love note in his pocket or sending the kids to stay at Grandma’s so you can have dinner uninterrupted—for once.
11. They Choose To Be Together
Another aspect to a happy relationship is recognizing that happiness is a choice. “It comes down to a decision to be happy, to choosing to be happy, and in so doing, choosing what not to do as well,” Cynthia Stone, a relationship guru, tells Romper. Instead of complaining about your partner, (which is easy to do), cherish who they are and focus on why you want to be with them instead.
Really, the things that create happy couples aren’t things, but doing small things that, over time, will yield great big positive relationship results. Instead of focusing on the negatives, point out the positives that your partner possesses. That way, if you’re looking for reasons to appreciate them, you’ll find plenty that will surely make you happy... and view your relationship in a new light.