9 Daily Habits Of Couples Who Stay Married (And Happy!) For Life

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just married couple, happy

The divorce rate for couples over 50 has doubled in the last 20 years, despite relatively good news of late regarding the rate of divorce in the U.S.

That's big news for any married couple, regardless of your age — mostly due to the reason these folks are divorcing.

It turns out that they are looking for greater happiness. This makes sense, considering they expect to live longer. Why not spend that time being happier

Who are these over-50s who insist on being happier — and why do they expect their partners to give more than before?

These couples are all of us (or will be very soon). So let’s consider how we can prevent this dissatisfaction from leading to unhappiness or divorce.

RELATED: 3 Magic Words That Keep The Best Couples Together Forever

Here are nine habits that can help you find happiness — and avoid divorce

1. Cheerlead your shared vision, mission, and goals

In your early years together, at your romantic best, there is an energy and synergy that defies reason. This ends, alas, and, to avoid wrangling, you must find common ground on serious issues like career, religion, parenting, savings, and house cleaning.

The cool thing is that these conversations about the present and future tell your significant other what you want, let them voice concerns, and allow you to share priorities.

It is an important step in moving from “I” to “we” and necessary for your individual and mutual success and happiness. 

These chats may be yearly, or when some part of your personal goal, mission, and vision changes. They could happen when you feel uncertain that you are on the same page. 

A shared vision keeps your daily conversations rich and aligned as you navigate life to accomplish your big goals together and separately.

RELATED: 8 Sweet Ways Happily Married Couples Stay Happy Together

2. Keep the focus on gratitude

However positive and appreciative you are, you can wilt, and from time to time catch yourself perseverating on their faults. If all you can see are the crumbs on the counter and the unmade bed, you can be sure they are reading your criticism and disapproval. Like a book.

The sad truth is that most of us are wired to be negative and, after the honeymoon, ruminate on the one bad thing your significant other does or have trouble getting over small disappointments. 

That's where this gratitude focus exercise comes in. When you notice that you are disgruntled and bringing shade to the relationship, tuck a Post-it note in your pocket and routinely list their strengths, assets, contributions, and accomplishments.

Share these as often as possible.

RELATED: 9 Scientifically Proven Signs Of A Happy, Healthy Marriage

3. Start a morning routine

Besides a significant other who compliments you, it would be nice to awaken to the sweet sound of, “Hello beautiful, you are everything to me.”

Whether sung in deep bass or contralto the words will put a pep in your step and stay with you all day long. Seriously.

Perhaps it is a three-minute cuddle and a whisper, “I am so glad we’re together,” but you can make a difference to their happiness and yours with the “just right” morning words.

One woman I know says she feels like a princess when her husband brings her coffee in bed. Choose what you do and give more than you get. Form a morning habit that makes them smile all day long.

RELATED: How The Happiest Couples Keep Their Marriage Running Smoothly

4. Reconnect at the end of the day

Connection is the lifeblood of a vibrant relationship. Sure you can survive periods of crossing like ships in the night and seasons where you are drained and have no energy for your signifcant other. But we know this is survival and not happiness.

So many couples live in this rut for too long and suffer the consequences of a relationship running aground.

Just as you warmed your hearts in the morning, follow up with kindness and attention in the evening. If possible greet your SO at the door, with a kiss or warm hug, help with the groceries, or take their coat. Later, set aside a minimum of 20 minutes with eyes and ears on each other.

This is where you hear the details of the day. You ask questions and take turns listening. 

Attention is the food and water of a relationship but it is least likely to get the time it needs. 

RELATED: 7 Ways To Save A Boring Marriage (Before It's Too Late)

5. Hug and hold one another

Busy as you are, there is too little time for cuddling, reading to each other, or doing the activities that brought you together in the first place. There are even fewer opportunities to explore your dreams and longings, and enjoy aimless meandering, and meaningful touch.

But it is the togetherness, goofy play, gazing, and bonding that lead you to be open and so like the authentic self that your significant other fell in love with.

With children to tuck in and a few more hours on your laptop, your life has changed. Your significant other won’t whine, complain, or demand but the relationship does and your distance today is a leaky roof that eventually caves in. 

Touch his hand, kiss her neck, and visit his mother. Above all look into their eyes, hug, and hold them.

Try the following holding exercise:

  • Sit comfortably, embrace and be as close as possible.
  • Rest your head on the other person’s neck or shoulder.
  • Adjust to avoid strain.
  • Say how you feel.

RELATED: The One Habit Loving Couples Practice To Avoid Taking Each Other For Granted

6. Walk side by side

There is something magical about walking with no distractions but the occasional chirp, falling leaf, or the crunch of your shoes.

Snow or sunshine, I can’t think of any better activity for honest conversations and intimate closeness.

7. Play together and stay together

In a recent survey of 7,600 United Kingdom adults, 66 percent said that working out together improved their relationship for different reasons. 

Some couples said they felt healthier, more positive, and found each other more attractive, while others described activity together as quality time, they might have invested with a stranger. In a gym, playing a board game, a hike, and having an adventure all produce fun, laughter, and building positive memories of your significant other.

RELATED: Yes, Physical Touch Can Ease Pain & Trauma — But Not All Touch Is Helpful

8. Don’t take your anger to bed

You are most likely to hear this from an old aunt or your mother-in-law. Studies have reinforced this timeless advice in an observation that during sleep, the brain reorganizes issues making it harder to reverse negativity.

Anger is exhausting and if you can solve an issue and forgive before bedtime you are likely to sleep better and start fresh the next day.

Perhaps you won’t resolve every problem before you turn in, but a simple agreement to let it go for now places guardrails on your relationship.

RELATED: Why 'Never Going To Bed Angry' May Be A Huge Mistake

9. Just decide to journey together

It’s easy to succumb to the daily grind of work, the demands of kids, and the responsibilities of aging parents.

Not to mention the struggle when real-world problems erupt. Job loss, disability, and disease can bring prolonged distress to you, negativity takes over and your relationship suffers. We are never prepared for the downswings of life and waste the upswings worried about future trouble. 

However, you have a calling — a reason for being together that overrides distress and disappointment.

My heartfelt hope is that you tap into this calling for mutual happiness that demands a decision to journey together for a lifetime and the practice of habits that make it possible.

Happiness is a daily commitment and is more easily done with your significant other beside you.

RELATED: 5 Insanely Easy Marriage Secrets From Happily Married Couples

Reta Walker is a therapist who specializes in healing relationships. She offers one-on-one sessions, couples retreats, and courses to help couples get back on track.

This article was originally published at Reta Walker's website. Reprinted with permission from the author.