Relationships are complicated, right? But it could be easier to have a successful partnership than you might think. From keeping a regular date night to following the 60/40 rule, content couples have a bunch of tried-and-tested tips. Check out these 20 habits that are key to a healthy relationship.
20. Hit the hay together
You know the drill – you’re sleepy, but your partner wants to watch more Netflix. So you go to bed while they stay up. But writing for the Psychology Today website in 2009, Mark Goulston, professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, explained, “Happy couples resist the temptation to go to bed at different times.”
19. Hold hands often
Sounds simple, right? But holding hands is one of the things that falls by the wayside as relationships mature. As Dr. Goulston has explained, “Rather than one partner lagging or dragging behind the other, happy couples walk comfortably hand-in-hand or side-by-side.”
18. Greet them with a smile – even when you feel annoyed
Whether it’s cheerily saying bye when they head off to work or saying good night before they go to sleep, happy couples always do these simple greetings. Dr. Goulston has said of this, “This tells your partner that, regardless of how upset you are with him or her, you still want to be in the relationship.”
17. Check in to see how their day is going
As well as showing that you care care, there’s another good reason to give your partner a call to see how they’re doing at work. “This is a great way to adjust expectations so that you’re more in sync when you connect after work,” Dr. Goulston explained on the Psychology Today website.
16. Show them you’re proud to be with them
This is something that people in successful partnerships do on a regular basis – they make a proper habit of making sure they are proud. Indeed, as Dr. Goulston has emphasized, “Be proud to be seen with your partner. Happy couples are pleased to be seen together.”
15. Laugh together as often as possible
Laughing makes for a happy couple – sounds pretty obvious, right? But don’t underestimate the power of a good giggle. A 2015 study led by Laura E. Kurtz from the University of North Carolina’s psychology department concluded that “shared laughter brings couples closer.”
14. Make the effort to compromise
For happy partners, this isn’t a vague theory – meeting in the middle is something they do habitually. Relationship expert and author Dr. Terri L. Orbuch – also known as The Love Doctor – has told the WebMD website that the most successful couples know when to compromise and when to put their own needs first.
13. Be honest – even when it’s hard
Blissful couples benefit from being totally open with each other. Writing for the PsychCentral website, doctor of psychology John M. Grohol explained, “Almost everyone values trust and honesty from their partner above all. Why? Because your partner is the one person you want to be able to depend upon in the long-term, without question or doubt.”
12. Talk about “us” instead of “me”
In 2010 researchers from the University of California, Berkeley released a study of successful couples. They found that the couples said the likes of “we,” “us,” and “ours,” rather than saying, “mine,” “me” or “I.” It’s a simple change to your speech that might make a big difference for your relationship.
11. Keep a regular date night
Whether it’s dinner or a movie, a regular date night is a habit you have to start in your own relationship. Researching their 2008 book Project Everlasting, Mathew Boggs and Jason Miller interviewed 200 couples who had been married for at least 40 years. One major tip they discovered was to keep the romance alive with a regular date night.
10. Follow the 60/40 rule
During their research, Boggs and Miller also came across the so-called “60/40 rule.” One of the long-term married men they interviewed explained, “Most people think marriage is 50/50. It’s not. It’s 60/40. You give 60. You take 40.” Mathematically dubious, but tried and tested, apparently.
9. Shower your partner with random compliments
Saying nice things to your partner – it’s another simple but underrated habit of successful couples. As relationship blogger Melissa Chapman explained in a 2014 article in Women’s Health magazine, “I seriously tell my husband at least once a day how hot and handsome he is.”
8. Make the time for a daily cuddle
Another no-brainer, right? Don’t underestimate the power of regular hugs with your bae. In Women’s Health magazine, author and clinical sexologist Charley Ferrer Ph.D. explained, “Couples should take five minutes each morning and each night to simply hold each other. This is a wonderful way to start and end your day.”
7. Light up when your partner shows up
In Women’s Health magazine, clinical social worker Tonya Lester outlined the benefits of being glad to see your partner. “Lighting up when your partner walks in the room will send positive reverberations through your relationship no matter how long you’ve been together,” she said. You might think it seems fake at first, but it will improve your relationship – science says so, apparently.
6. Keep in touch – while you’re asleep
You might be surprised to learn that it’s important to have physical contact with your partner while you’re both asleep. Research carried out for the Edinburgh International Science Festival in 2014 revealed that 94 percent of partners who stayed in touch during the night were content in their relationship.
5. Do boring chores together
No more arguing about who has to do the dishes – turns out happy couples do household tasks together. Or they share them evenly, at least. In a 2016 study Matt Johnson, a professor at the University of Alberta, wrote, “A division of household labor perceived to be fair ensures that partners feel respected while carrying out the tasks of daily life.”
4. Watch shows you won’t always like
Whether it’s movies, theater or music, happy couples take the time to experience something then discuss it together. A 2014 study by researchers at the University of Rochester, New York discovered that couples who watched and then chatted about movies together had a lower divorce rate. Certainly an easy habit to get into!
3. Game together
In 2012 scientists from Utah’s Brigham Young University made the cool discovery that couples who spend time playing games together have better partnerships. Board games like Monopoly are okay, but playing video games actually led to even more marital bliss. Score!
2. Go out of your way to make them happy
Sometimes your needs have to come second, and making that a habit will improve your relationship. People who really go the extra mile to make sure their loved one is happy will benefit from a contented partnership.
1. Take up a hobby together
It’s back to Dr. Goulston for some final words of wisdom. In his 2009 Psychology Today website article, he wrote, “If common interests are not present, happy couples develop them. At the same time, be sure to cultivate interests of your own; this will make you more interesting to your mate and prevent you from appearing too dependent.”