Once the honeymoon period has waned, once everyday life has set in, once kids enter the picture, happiness looks a lot different for people in a committed relationship. It’s easy to be happy in the beginning, when the butterflies are still there and everything is new. But it’s not actually all that hard to be happy when you’re in the middle of the long haul, either. If you know where to look, you’ll notice that there are little things that all happy couples do regularly.
In the day-to-day, happiness doesn’t always look like radiating joy all the time. It doesn’t look like giddily texting each other all day, or greeting each other with tongue every time you reconnect. Even though that may still happen sometimes, long-term couples tend to measure happiness and healthiness a little bit differently. And while each couple is different, what all happy couples have in common are little things that have a big impact on their relationship.
Relationships ebb and flow, and there are times where things will be better than others. There will be hard times and bumps in the road, but there are things that partners can be sure to do that can add to the overall long-term happiness of their relationship. Here are some things that every happy couple does.
1. Talk To Each Other
And I don’t just mean the necessary talking about who is driving Little Johnny to soccer practice, or who is emptying the dishwasher tonight. Happy couples talk to each other about their lives, their days, their passions, and their feelings.
2. Appreciate Each Other
Appreciation is an active thing, and people who are in healthy, happy relationships practice this on a regular basis. Appreciation means complimenting your partner for who they are or how they look, thanking them for doing something around the house, telling them how much you like their sense of humor. It's easy for this to fall by the wayside when the banal existence of day-to-day life gets in the way, but happy couples make it a point to try to make sure it doesn’t.
3. Spend Time Apart
Too much time with anyone is a recipe for disaster. In fact, I think there’s even a saying about distance making the heart grow fonder, no? Giving your partner time and space to explore their own passions and hobbies, or even just be with themselves allows them to recharge. This means that they’ll be more fully present when their with you. Two people with their own lives are more likely to have a healthy relationship, one built on security and trust.
4. Support Each Other
Your significant other should be your biggest cheerleader, in big things and small. When you land a new job, try to learn a new hobby, or get a high score in your favorite video game, your partner should be there to cheer you on and encourage you to keep going. Likewise, if you struggle or fail, they should be there to pick you back up and comfort you. A good partner wants you to be happy, and supports you in doing the things that make you feel good.
5. Disagree With Each Other
Disagreement is healthy, and important. It also shows a level of safety, where you are free to disagree without fear. (If you can’t safely disagree with your partner, that’s a relationshipred flag of a potentially abusive dynamic.) No one can agree on everything all the time, and disagreement and differences is what makes a relationship flourish and thrive.
6. Hear Each Other Out
There’s a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh that says, “in a true dialogue, both sides are willing to change.” What this means is that you’re really listening to your partner, and considering what they have to say, even if you think you’re right. And, in a happy pairing, each person is willing to sacrifice being right sometimes for the health of the relationship.