Article by: Mark Goulston, MD
With comments inserted by Lesley Voth, author of Simply Fantastic: Living Better on Less
Happy couples know that the real relationship begins when the honeymoon is over. Here are the habits of highly happy couples…
1. Go to bed at the same time. Remember the beginning of your relationship, when you couldn’t wait to go to bed with each other to make love? Happy couples resist the temptation to go to bed at different times even if one partner wakes up later to do things while his/her partner sleeps.
MY COMMENT: Good suggestion but if he snores then I am thinking getting to sleep first might be a good idea but otherwise it is a nice thing to do, chat and cuddle before you sleep or something like that has got to be a good thing.
2. Cultivate common interests. Don’t minimize the importance of activities you can do together that you both enjoy. If you don’t have common interests, develop them. At the same time, be sure to cultivate interests of your own. This will make you more interesting to your mate and prevent you from appearing too dependent.
MY COMMENT: I think that is good but I don’t think you have to be “joined at the hip.” Some common interests are good, but it is also good to have your space.
3. Make trust and forgiveness your default mode. When happy couples have a disagreement or an argument that they can’t resolve, they default to trusting and forgiving rather than distrusting and begrudging.
MY COMMENT: I totally agree. this suggestion is extremely important. If that trust is ever broken, trust me, it is almost impossible to repair.
4. Focus on accentuating the positive. If you look for things that your partner does wrong, you can always find something. If you look for what he/she does right, you can always find something, too.
MY COMMENT: I agree with this one as your partner may be “down in the dumps” at times and I think it is a good thing for the “other half ” to rouse him or her up with some very positive thoughts and attitudes even if you are feeling a little desperate yourself. No use both of you wallowing in misery.
5. Hug each other as soon as you see each other after being apart for the day. Couples who say hello with a hug reaffirm their love for each other.
MY COMMENT: Sometimes you don’t feel like it but it does clear the air when times are a little tough. It is good though to get in the habit of it and hug for no particular reason exept that you want to.
6. Say “I love you” and “Have a good day” every morning. This is a great way to buy some patience and tolerance as each partner sets out each day to battle traffic jams, long lines and other annoyances.
MY COMMENT: Very important. It gives you a good feeling as well. I not only say it to my husband, but I say it to my kids and grand kids every day.
7. Say “good night” every night, regardless of how you feel. This tells your partner that regardless of how upset you are with him, you still want to be in the relationship. It says that what you and your partner have is bigger than any single upsetting incident.
MY COMMENT: Yes I agree. You always need to say this, as it is a form of communicating that you care and wish your partner a goodnight rest.
8. Do a “weather” check during the day. Call your partner at home or at work to see how his day is going. This is a great way to adjust expectations so that you’re more in sync later in the day. For instance, if your partner is having an awful day, it might be unreasonable to expect him to be enthusiastic about something good that happened to you.
MY COMMENT: This is not always possible, as your significant other may have a job that does not appreciate personal calls, but it is good to touch base to see what the other is doing at the end of the day so you can coordinate. It’s good to know you are on their mind. Kinda nice I think.
9. Walk hand in hand. Happy couples are pleased to be seen together and often are in some kind of affectionate contact — hand in hand or hand on shoulder, for example. They are saying that they belong with each other.
MY COMMENT: It is nice to see. My brother and his wife still do that after 42 years of marriage. Love it. It’s that touchy thing that words are not needed to say.
10. Stick with it. Even if these actions don’t come naturally, happy couples stick with them until they do become a part of their relationship. It takes 30 days for a change in behavior to become a habit and a minimum of six months for a habit to become a way of life — and love.
MY COMMENT: Very good words. It’s sometimes difficult, I tell you, but from what I have observed it is worth working out all the difficulties, as it makes the relationship stronger. Well one hopes so anyway.