A solid relationship is a goal for so many of us. But beyond taking adorable selfies and being in love, what does it take to keep a relationship strong enough for a lifetime? Here are some habits that people in happy and healthy relationships do on the regular:
They have rituals that build in quality time.
In a world of chaos, rituals can provide a steady rhythm to an otherwise manic schedule. Work, children, money, and travel can wreak havoc on relationships but having one thing you do on a regular basis provides a grounding measure in otherwise unpredictable times. For example, here are some rituals that can seamlessly work into your daily life:
- A weekly or daily walk
- A weekly or bi-monthly date night
- A daily/weekly meditation or prayer session
- A set bedtime with room for talk about the day
- Morning coffee to connect before the day begins
They have room to disagree without anger.
Healthy couples communicate and communicate frequently without judgment. If one party reacts negatively when the other shares their thoughts or feelings this sets up a cycle of holding back and stunts the growth of the relationship and, in more serious cases, can create room for people to hide secrets and lie. Healthy couples don’t have an emotional overflow when their partner challenges them to see another way of looking at something or has an alternative view on a subject, in fact, they warrant it.
They have me time vs. we time.
Spending time together is crucial in healthy relationships but having time to yourself is just as important. Co-dependent relationships thrive on doing everything together and when apart one or both parties feel anxious or sad. Healthy relationships are confident relationships where you don’t need to be together at every moment and can do things just as easily separately as together. Giving your partner the space to do what they want alone or with other people can build a deeper connection, suggests trust, and provides comfort to the other partner knowing that you don’t “need” each other but rather “want” each other which are two very different desires.
They express appreciation for each other on a regular basis.
We can become very comfortable with our partners and can easily fall into what we call a “roommate routine” where things become transactional and expected. Healthy couples take the time to thank their partners when they help them, compliment each other, and express how much they appreciate having them in their life. These small actions build intimacy and connection because you don’t allow your partner to go unnoticed even when time doesn’t permit for a lot of quality time.
The focus on what they love and not what they don’t.
Even in the most loving of relationships, it’s inevitable your partner is going to do something that you don’t like. There will be days where you aren’t attracted to them and they may just plain drive you nuts. Healthy partners understand those moments are temporary and focus on what they love instead of focusing on what they don’t. This practice will reframe even the toughest of times by bringing you back to the roots of why you decided to be with this person in the first place.
They always kiss each other hello and goodbye.
Happy couples take the time to acknowledge their partner with affection every day. This shows their partner that the relationship is a priority for them and they aren’t just a friend that comes and goes without notice. This small act also anchors the feeling of love and comfort to your home so there is an unconscious desire to want to be there. Also, kissing releases oxytocin – “the love hormone” – so it’s good for your health!
They speak up for what they need.
In a long-term relationship, you will (of course) know your partner in a very deep way but no matter how long you are together we will never be able to read their minds. The most successful couples learn early on to state their needs and listen to their partner to meet these needs without resentment. This is a lifelong practice that allows room for honesty and provides the tools for your partner to honor your wishes without uncertainty.
Ultimately healthy and happy couples do things like cook, travel, and play together but the real values that keep healthy relationships thriving are those built on trust, rhythm, acceptance, and independence. Find someone you can talk to about anything, be yourself without attachment, and allow yourself to be truly vulnerable with and your bond will be unbreakable.