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The 6 Top-Secret Tricks The Happiest Couples ALREADY Know

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6 Top Secret Tricks the Happiest Couples Already Know
Family, Heartbreak

Relationship satisfaction shouldn't be elusive.

You’re wondering if this is another gimmick: Can couples actually achieve happiness

When you’re unhappy with your relationship, it may seem like happy couples are in your face, walking hand-in-hand everywhere you go. You may roll your eyes covertly (or even overtly) and think to yourself, "I wonder how long it will be before the honeymoon ends."

Cynicism about relationships can grow like cancer, fed by resentment and avoidance. OK, so how do the happy couples sustain it?

As with most things in life, marital satisfaction and happiness are practices that we need to work on every day individually and as a couple. So yes, it’s totally possible with an open and accepting perspective

Here are some secrets that the happiest couples know (and practice) to earn their title:

1. You both have shared visions and goals for the future.

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This may seem like common sense, but as the saying goes, it’s not so common. Couples need to know their partner’s desire to have children, career aspirations, ideal place (or places) of residence, the degree of extended family involvement in family life, retirement planning, financial management, and so on and so forth.

If there is a conflict in any of these categories, happy couples communicate about how they can compromise or which areas are deal breakers. They do this before they are on the precipice of the issue, such as when they find out they’re unexpectedly pregnant, a sick parent needs care, or whether disposable income needs to go to home improvement or vacations.

2. You know you can’t change or control your partner.

It’s tempting to get into the mindset of: "If my husband/wife would only ________, then I’d be happier. "

At first, this can seem confusing. Why wouldn't it be OK to ask your partner to change if it would contribute to your happiness? Because it's related to blame. 

You’re blaming your partner for their habits and behavior (messiness, time spent working, Netflix binge), which makes you unhappy. It’s the behavior that makes you unhappy, not your partner.  

I know, I know, it seems like a mere semantic difference. But think about how you may label your partner because of their chosen behavior: "You’re so lazy. All you do is sit around and watch Netflix while I’m putting the kids to bed. The least you could do is help me."

This is like a match to gasoline for marital conflict.     

Slapping a label on your partner’s behavior isn’t a way to get your own needs met and it also robs them of the chance to explain the behavior.  

If you became curious about your partner’s seemingly lazy habit, would you discover that he or she was depressed and needed support? Asking questions (out of curiosity, not interrogation) before jumping to conclusions is a great way to be more gentle, respectful, and open in your communication.

If you judge or blame them, it also gets you off the hook of asking for what you need. What would happen if you said to your partner: "It’s Jamie and Alex’s bedtime in 5 minutes. Would you be able to pause that so we can do bedtime together?"

This accomplishes several things: It communicates what you need without judgment, it respects your partner’s time with the 5-minute notice, and it’s a request instead of a demand ("Get off your a** and help me get the kids to bed" doesn’t quite have the same ring to it).

3. You know that judgment kills intimacy.

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Happy couples know that judgment is a shame inducer and doesn’t help any aspect of a relationship. Dr. Brené Brown explains that we are biologically wired for connection and shame erodes connection. 

Judgment can be veiled in loaded questions such as: "Why did you fold the laundry THAT way?" or "Why did you tell your mother THAT? You know I don’t like…"  

It implies that their handling of the situation was wrong, and now they need to explain themselves to you.

What follows these rhetorical questions (as there really isn’t an answer because the partner already knows it was veiled disapproval) is defensiveness. Instead of answering you, your partner becomes defensive and then may start to attack back.  

This cycle of conflict induces shame, weakens connection, and therefore, intimacy evaporates. Physical intimacy (for women) often follows emotional intimacy. Emotional intimacy grows out of connection, which can't happen if there is judgment being thrown around like a hot potato. 

4. You try to catch your partner doing something right.

Happy couples express gratitude for each other. They recognize a gesture their partner made and they say something. This helps build trust.

Trust is a living, breathing entity that has to be earned and maintained over time, just like happiness. Recognizing and acknowledging what your partner is doing right or getting right goes a long way to build that bond of trust in your relationship.  

5. You understand the three c’s of marriage: communication, communication, communication.

Happy couples know how to communicate, which means they know how to "fight". Many couples avoid conflict altogether, which is counterintuitive because it is not effective in achieving happiness. They just stew in silence. 

Here are three cardinal rules of communication that I have seen come up in my work with individuals and couples working towards relationship satisfaction:

  • Cardinal rule #1: You can’t stay silent.

Choosing avoidance is a temporary solution. That thing your partner did to upset you will not go away. It will not magically get better on its own. The snowball of anger and resentment will get bigger as it rolls downhill. 

What happens then is a kitchen sink fight (every issue from the past 5-10 years is on the table) or a big explosion of anger from the aforementioned silent party.

  • Cardinal rule #2: Communicate with respect during a conflict.

Name-calling, yelling, slamming doors, or anything of the like will not help to resolve the conflict. It may help you let off steam in the moment and give your argument some dramatic effect, but it will hurt the overall goal of resolution (assuming that’s the goal). 

Loving and respecting your partner doesn’t stop during a conflict. You can communicate dissatisfaction, hurt feelings, confusion, or despair without resorting to tactics that muddy the water. If you’re not able to communicate without doing these things, it’s OK to take the time to cool down before talking about the issue of contention.

  • Cardinal rule #3: Don’t ask questions when you need to make a statement.

I see this all the time with unhappy couples. They ask a question like, "Why would you criticize what I’m eating when you know I’m sensitive about my weight?"

This is indirectly telling your partner that a.) you didn’t like what they said, b.) they hurt your feelings, and c.) criticizes them in return. Wait, what? Yes, that sentence communicated all of that.

We don’t communicate more clearly because it’s vulnerable to express our feelings and set boundaries. However, that is what this situation requires. 

The offended partner could say, "It really hurts my feelings when you comment on my food. Managing my food and weight is a sensitive and personal issue for me. I’d appreciate it if you would not comment on it unless I ask you for your advice."

6. You accept each other's imperfections.

This is why people say that marriage is a lot of work. Any relationship where there is connection requires effort and practice to sustain satisfaction, trust, and intimacy (whether emotional or physical).   

Happy couples mess up on practicing these tricks. We are all human and imperfect. We are going to make mistakes. Happy couples recognize their mistakes, take accountability for them, and move on.

Click here to download my free scripts that will give you the exact words you're looking for to communicate more effectively in your relationship.

Anya Surnitsky, LCSW, CDWF is a therapist and coach in private practice, working with individuals and couples to release their stranglehold on control in order to live a life of peace, grace, and kindness.  

 

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