I’ve spent a great deal of time researching what makes some couples seem so happy. The web is littered with lists of habits of happy couples. And, yes, I’m going to give you my list of the habits and traits that happy couples all seem to have in common.
The Secret to Happiness
However, before we get to the list, I’d like to share with you what I believe is the secret to real happiness. See, I don’t believe that you can be part of a happy couple if you are not, in fact, personally happy. I know what you are thinking “What is the chance I’m going to discover the secret to happiness on the pages of this blog?” Well, I’m no psychiatrist, I’ve never been to a meditation retreat and I have my share of bad days just like anyone else. But, I’m going to share with you a simple practice that has dramatically changed my life for the better.
Drum roll please….I believe that Gratitude is the secret to happiness. That’s right Gratitude. Granted, I’m not the first person to suggest this. In fact, David Steindl-Rast gives a great Ted Talk on the subject, found here. In his talk, he states that it’s not the happiest people that are the most grateful, it is the most grateful people that are the happiest.
So how do we develop a habit or practice of gratefulness? In the 1965 film Sound of Music, Julie Andrews encourages her pupils to think of their favorite things when ever they are feeling down. That’s probably pretty good advise.
My family has started a Gratefulness Journal. We keep a notebook at the dinner table. Each night we go around the table and each person offers one thing that they are grateful for that day. My four year old is often grateful for clouds or unicorns. My six year old is grateful for mommy and daddy or for hugs. My wife and I try to dig a little deeper. The nice part is going back and reading what we've been grateful for over the past month or year. We often finish dinner time with a family hug and leave the dinner table beaming. Not only has this simple practice made a huge difference in all of our lives, we are building a treasure trove of memories that we will cherish forever.
Interestingly, before we started the journal I often had a hard time thinking of things I was grateful for, especially if I was in a particularly foul mood. Now, my list of favorite things flows out as lyrically as a Julie Andrews song. I have found it impossible to be unhappy when I am thinking of the blue ceramic crown that my 4 year old painted or the stuffed bunny that my 6 year old made out of an old t-shirt. One other interesting note, the amount of money that we make, the brand of clothing that we wear, the kind of cars we drive, none of these things have ever made it onto the list. Sure we are grateful for all we posses, but come to find out, those are not the things that ultimately make us happy.
So, now on to the list...
Consider the following items to be best practices. These are habits, traits and rituals used by the happiest couples to keep their relationship on firm footing. Don’t be overwhelmed by the list. Try to add one new habit each month. Soon you will find many begin to happen naturally, without effort.
- Focus on what your partner does right
- Call your partner each day to see how they are doing
- Be proud to be seen with your partner
- Always show respect to your partner
- Go walking with your partner
- Turn off the television
- Make your partner coffee in the morning
- Brag about your partner often
- Reconnect throughout the day
- Give love unselfishly
- Make daily sacrifices for your partner
- Respect their imperfections
- Expect Reality
- Turn negatives into positives
- Work on the relationship
- Cheer for your partner
- Learn and Speak your partners love language every day
- Cook and clean together
- Express appreciation every day
- Work towards goals as a team
- Spend quality time in the morning
- Snuggle in the morning and evenings
- Be joyful and your relationship will reflect it
- Stand together as a team
- Let it go
- Apologize immediately
- Respect your relationship as being unique
- Get in bed together each night
- Develop common interests
- Walk hand in hand
- Embrace trust and forgiveness
- Don’t compare
- Accept your partner worts and all
- Don’t neglect the relationship
- Communicate clearly
- Listen actively
- Never play games with your partners heart or head
- Hug each other a soon as you see each other after work
- Say “I Love You” and “Have a good day” every morning
- Say “Good Night” regardless of how you feel
- Dream and set goals together
- Negotiate and compromise
- Take responsibility, don’t blame others
- Practice patience and forgiveness
- Don’t try to change your partner
- Accept that some problems cant be solved
- Build great memories and remember them often
- Touch each other often
- Take struggle in stride
- Practice gratefulness
Pick one item from the list and do it today. Practice it for the next 28 days and you’ll have developed a habit that sticks with you. Next month, pick another item from the list and repeat. Keep on adding new habits and rituals and soon, your friends will be wondering why you and your partner seem so much happier that other couples.
If you’ve enjoyed this article and would like to continue the journey, read “30 Great Ways to Rekindle The Flame” or download our free e-book entitled “Sex.Love. Happiness.”