I would guess there’s that one couple in your life that always seems happy. You never see them argue, you never see any “cracks in their armor.” You’re not with them 100% of the time, so you realize they probably have their ups and downs like every couple does.
However, they seem happy. They seem to have a secret that eludes a lot of couples and may even be missing in your relationship. There are things happy couples do differently that help their relationship overcome the challenges that typically end love.
For years, my wife and I couldn’t picture happiness. We mostly thought about separation and possible divorce. It took a three-year period of self-improvement with us as individuals first, and then improvement in our relationship. We went to counseling; we talked to couples who had been married for 30 or more years. These are the lessons we learned about happy couples.
- The choose love over feelings. One wise couple taught us that love isn’t a feeling. It’s a decision. Feelings come and go. You’ll fell like you’re “in love,” and at times, you won’t. If you just went by your feelings, you wouldn’t have any relationships that last very long. Love is a decision. One you must wake up and make every day and even multiple times a day. When you choose not to cheat, when you choose to put your partner’s needs first, when you choose to do the hard work to maintain a relationship, you’re making the decision to love.
- They work on improving themselves. A lot of times, there’s tension in a relationship because we’re unhappy with our self. There are changes we know we should and want to make, but don’t do anything about. The hard work of any relationship starts with being the best versions of our self. Self-improvement is sexy and what keeps a relationship strong.
- They continue to study each other. Happy couples keep the excitement alive by continuing learn more about each other. They don’t make assumptions, and they don’t lose interest. They view each day as an opportunity to learn something cool about the person they’ve given their heart to. They learn how their partner thinks, so they understand situations better. This helps avoid tension.
- They commit to maintaining a healthy sex life. Sex isn’t the only thing that should be on our minds, but it is important. A bad sex life can destroy a marriage or lead to unfaithfulness by one or both partners. Sex shouldn’t be the 10-minute chore you do once a month. I realize it’s also not going to be movie caliber every time, either, but there’s a balance to be had. Continue to study great sex. Read books, watch informative (Not porn) videos, talk to your partner. Continue to get more in touch with yourself and what gives you pleasure. Be honest.
- They give each other space. My wife and I learned from experience that we can’t work together—seeing each other at work, and at home was too much. Some couples can make that work, others can’t, but every couple needs a little time apart. I can be hangtime with your friends, or quiet time reading a book on your own. It can be work trips or just a little time away. That time away helps you miss your love, and it helps you work on improving you.
- They don’t go to bed with tension. One of the wise couples we talked to told us they never go to sleep with an unresolved argument. They said there were times when they were up all night working through their problems. When you go to bed or are separated with tension in your relationship, it festers and grows into something deeper. As much as you want to sleep, your relationship is more important. Work through your issues and go to bed happy knowing you’re at peace with the person you love. Note: There are some major problems that will require many nights of working through–if you work through them at all. Only you know which ones can and should be resolved. Get honest with yourself and your partner.
Relationships are hard work and many end too quickly. It’s hard to open up to another human being and let them in, but that’s the secret sauce in growing your love. You can have a thriving, and happy relationship that withstands all the tests life sometimes throws at us.
For a long time, I didn’t see the value that could come from having a mentor. After learning from a counselor and many wise couples, I’m convinced having mentors can help your relationship. They can’t tell you what to do, but you can learn from older couples who have been together for years.
Commit to improving yourself and choose love. There’s no greater feeling than waking up and seeing someone you love with all your heart.
What choices do you make that helps your love grow?
Photo: Flickr/ Michel Alary