I\’ve been talking the last couple of weeks about happy couples. Although everyone\’s different, there are certain patterns that recur among those who have solid, happy relationships. They\’re friends, they laugh together, they pay attention to one another, and they communicate well. What else?

Happy Couples Are Kind. Why is it that we are meaner to people close to us than we\’d ever dream of being to one of our friends or co-workers? Really, we would be careful with our tone in the office or our job might be in jeopardy. We\’d probably avoid being snarky with a stranger for no reason except we\’re feeling crabby. But with our beloved partner, with whom we feel so comfortable we can let down our guard, we are sometimes rude and downright mean. If this is you, try to tone it down. Your partner deserves the same consideration as a stranger—at the minimum. Practice being kind, even, or especially, when your partner is less than wonderful to you. You\’ll feel better about yourself, and it will make your partner think twice about how s/he treats you. Kindness is contagious.

Happy Couples Have Separate Lives. This might seem counter-intuitive because we expect happy couples to be deliriously delighted to be together. But not all the time. You can\’t expect any one person to have the identical needs and interests of another. One may not want to see an opera, and the other might. When they get together for dinner, the opera-goer can recount the experience. A healthy relationship depends on both parties being independent and emotionally mature individuals who pursue their own interests. This makes their life together more interesting.

Happy Couples Are Affectionate. While sex is important, it\’s not the only way to show your partner your love physically. A touch as you pass through the room, an impromptu backrub while your partner reads the paper, holding hands in the scary parts of the movie. There are endless ways, large and small, to connect with your partner physically. It is especially important to make these connections without expecting sex in return. If your touch automatically signals sex, you will withhold that touch if you are not in the mood for sex. A friend\’s husband used to entice her into the Jacuzzi, fill the tub, supply warm towels. Afterward, he demanded sex. Always. Pretty soon the Jacuzzi was the least used tub in town. Happy couples show affection freely, with no strings attached.

Happy Couples Are Committed. They are always there for each other. They can be counted on for support, through good times and bad. As the vows say, “For richer for poorer, for better or worse.” Loyalty. Love. Commitment. Those are essential for sustaining a loving, lasting relationship. It can be the most fulfilling experience of your life, so it\’s worth cultivating. You can do it when you\’re aware of how to behave as a happy couple.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional.  If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch.  You can reach her here: https://nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.