Love is a promise; love is a souvenir. Once given never forgotten, Never Let it Disappear. — John Lennon
Happy relationships don’t happen by accident. Relationships can be challenging, rewarding, confusing, and exhilarating — sometimes all at the same time.
It takes two emotionally healthy, loving people who are committed to being the best partners they can be. What makes for a healthy romantic relationship differs from couple to couple. Forming a trusting and positive partnership takes effort and time.
Happy relationships are based on trust and honesty.
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The Secrets to Building Happy Relationships.
For any relationship to grow strong and stay strong, you need to put in the work. What does science know about people in happy relationships? A lot! According to research, here are 15 tips to you make your relationship happy and last forever.
1 — The Magic Ratio Is at Least 5:1
The difference between happy and unhappy couples is the balance between positive and negative interactions during conflict. Relationship expert, Dr. Gottman, discovered a very specific ratio that makes love last.
That “magic ratio” is 5 to 1. This means that for every negative interaction during conflict, a stable and happy marriage has at least five positive interactions. If the positive-to-negative ratio during conflict is 1 to 1 or less, that’s unhealthy and indicates a couple teetering on the edge of divorce.
2 — Prioritize Friendship as a Top Quality
Friendship is one of the characteristics of a happy and lasting relationship, as well as the foundation of a healthy marriage.
Research has shown that couples that have a great friendship have a higher percentage overall of marital satisfaction. In fact, the emotional connection that married couples share is said to be five times more important than their physical intimacy.
Couples that are friends look forward to spending time together, and genuinely like one another. Their activities and interests actually become enhanced because they have their favourite person with whom to share their life experiences.
Dr. Gottman states that the determining factor in whether women and men feel satisfied with sex, romance, and passion in their marriage is, by 70%.
3 — Work 5 Magic Hours into Your Week
Dr. Gottman found that people in the most successful marriages spend an average of 5 more hours a week being together and talking. Here’s how to work the magic 5 hours into your own relationship:
Partings — Give warm farewells. Dr. Gottman estimates this takes a minimum of 2 minutes, for 5 workdays per week: a total of 10 minutes per week.
Greetings — Have a debriefing conversation together at the end of each workday. Dr. Gottman allows for a 20-minute chat, for 5 workdays: a total of 1 hour 40 minutes per week.
Admiration and appreciation — Find a way to compliment your spouse every day and to show them you appreciate them a 5-minute task, 7 days a week: a total of 35 minutes.
Affection — Show physical affection for your spouse. Hug, pat, kiss, touch. Dr. Gottman specifically advises goodnight kisses! 5 minutes a day, 7 days a week: a total of 35 minutes.
Weekly date — This is the big one, time-wise. Dr. Gottman allows for 2 hours, once per week, to connect, chat, dream, plan, and enjoy each other’s company.
4 — The Once-A-Week Sex Boost
A study showed that upping your sexual activity from once a month to once a week can cause happiness levels to jump by as much if you made an extra $50,000 a year. Research also supports that having sex once a week makes people 44% more likely to have positive feelings. Make time for intimacy.
The study, entitled “Money, Sex, and Happiness: An Empirical Study” sampled 16,000 adult Americans. One of its main conclusions: “Sexual activity enters strongly positively in happiness equations.”
Fact: People are 55% more likely to report higher levels of happiness when they have sex every few days.
5 — Celebrate Each Other’s Personal Achievements
Anyone who has been in a relationship can attest to this one, but now there’s research to confirm it: A study in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that when couples celebrate their partner’s accomplishments as if they were their own, they’re more satisfied in the relationship.
Show enthusiasm — Express excitement. Don’t brush it off like Cool Whip.
Ask questions — Listen attentively. Be a sponge, soak in every detail.
Relive the experience — Rewind backwards. Positive flashbacks are healthy.
It can be easy to forget the good times. There’s nothing more satisfying than having your partner be loudly and enthusiastically in your corner when you do well. Joy, after all, multiplies with love.
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6 — The Michelangelo Effect
The Michelangelo phenomenon is an interpersonal process observed by psychologists in which close, romantic partners influence or ‘sculpt’ each other.
An American psychologist, Diana Kirschner, reported that the phenomenon was common among couples reporting high levels of marital satisfaction.
Research supports that couples in the happiest relationships bring out the best in each other. The couple helps one another get closer to becoming their “ideal” selves.
7 — Relive Moments of Shared Laughter
There’s something incredibly powerful about laughter. In one study, couples who were asked to recall a moment that involved shared laughter reported being more satisfied in their relationship than those prompted to recall positive moments in their relationship.
8 — Rethink Your Argument Style
When happy couples fight, they tend to defuse the tension. What are the common strategies used? Show humour, express affection, and concede on certain points their partner makes.
Unhappy couples, on the other hand, tend to do the complete opposite. These couples behave immaturely. Instead, they choose to criticize, show contempt, roll their eyes, act defensively, resort to name-calling, and/or simply tune out of the discussion.
9 — Children Change the Game
Children are one of the most fulfilling parts of life. However, they can add a new challenge to the couple’s relationships. Numerous studies, including a 2014 survey of 5,000 people in long-term relationships, show that childless couples are happiest.
This isn’t to say you can’t be happy if you have children. Rather, you must understand that it’s normal to not feel happy sometimes.
Many couples put pressure on themselves to feel perfectly fulfilled once they have what they’ve always wanted, but the reality of kids is that they’re very stressful on relationships.
10 — Positive Friends Can Lift Your Relationship
If you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, you’re also just as married as them.
According to research out of Brown University, you’re 75 percent more likely to get divorced if a friend or a close relative has already done the deed. When it’s someone one more degree of separation out (the friend of a friend), you’re 33 percent more likely to get divorced.
When things are going sour in a relationship, it’s important both partners surround themselves with positive friends who can help lift the relationship.
These friends are not biased and they do not judge you or your partner. Instead, they want you to succeed, they hear your problems, keep a neutral perspective, share personal successful stories and offer multiple solutions.
The health of one’s friends’ marriages might serve to support and enhance the durability of one’s own relationship.
11 — Fight at the Beginning, Then Cut It Out
A psychologist, Dr. Herb Goldberg suggests that our model for a relationship is backwards. At the beginning of the relationship, we tend to expect things to go smoothly and for problems to only arise later.
In fact, Dr. Goldberg argues that couples should have “rough and ragged” beginnings where they work things out, and then look forward to a long and happy incline in the state of the relationship.
12. Share a New Experience Together
New experiences activate the brain’s reward system, flooding it with dopamine and norepinephrine. These are the same brain circuits that are ignited in early romantic love.
Whether you take a painting class or go on a hiking trip, activating your dopamine systems while you are together can help bring back the excitement you felt on your first date.
In studies of couples, Dr. Aron has found that partners who regularly share new experiences report greater boosts in marital happiness than those who simply share pleasant but familiar experiences.
Do something new and different and make sure you do it together.
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13 — The Birth Order Matters
Are you the first-born child or last-born child? There’s an entire body of research on how your birth order impacts your life, including your relationships as well as professional success.
One of the happiest pairings for couples? Someone who was the youngest child with someone who was the oldest. Research believes this may be because the relationship has one person who enjoys being taken care of, and one who’s used to taking care of others.
14 — Share The Housework Responsibilities
According to a UCLA study, couples who agree to share chores at home are more likely to be happier in their relationships. Couples who have clearly defined responsibilities are far more likely to be satisfied.
When you know what to do and what’s expected with you, you tend to be happier to you and your partner. It is important to have a clear vision of defined responsibilities, especially if you have recently moved in with one another. A strong vision will set your relationship on the right path for success.
15 — Learn to Spend Money in Similar Ways
The two biggest things couples fight about are sex and money. When it comes to the latter, it’s well-known to psychologists as well as social scientists that for some reason, people tend to attract their spending opposite. Big spenders tend to attract thrifty people, and vice versa.
A University of Michigan study corroborated this. Researchers found that both married and unmarried people tend to select their “money opposite” and that this causes strife in the relationship. The happiest couples tend to spend money in a similar way, whether that is saving or indulging.
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“Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.” -Simone Signoret
Don’t be the chain in your relationship. Instead, be one of the hundreds of threads. Live a relationship that will last forever!
Forbes,Pew Research Center,NewYork Times, Collins Dictionary, The Gottman Institute, The National Bureau of Economic Research, Psych Central, The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, The Atlantic.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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