22 Married Couple Habits That Lead To A Lifetime Of Joy

No matter how small these gesture might seem, the little things have a big influence on a lasting love connection.

happy couple holding hands walking in city IVASHstudio / Shutterstock

We so often hear about the divorce rate in our country being so high. Statistics say that the current percentage of people who end up divorcing in America is between 30-50 percent. And that is scary.

But let me reframe those statistics another way. Between 50-70 percent of married couples stay married. That’s right, they stay committed to the person they promised to love until "death do they part."


How cool is that?

Of course, not every one of the marriages that survive are ones that are joyful  but research shows that the vast majority of those people who are still married are happy.

Shauna Springer, Ph.D., collected data from 1,200 women. The result of her studies revealed that "The vast majority (86 percent) described their marriages as either “very happy” (24 percent), “extremely happy” (51 percent), or “perfect” (11 percent). An additional 8 percent said that they are “happy.”

Those are pretty great statistics, no?

So, now that we know that many people in this country are, in fact, happily married, let’s talk about how to make your marriage one of the success stories.


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RELATED: 5 Signs You're In A Good Marriage That Will Last 'Til Death Do You Part

Here are 22 married couple habits that lead to a lifetime of joy 

1. Dine together

Do you and your partner regularly share meals? Instead of grabbing something while standing out the counter, do you and your partner sit down and eat together daily?


Research shows that the benefits of eating together is tremendous. An article from Brainwell.com states that eating with someone else “activates beneficial neurochemicals, but also improves digestion. The dining table provides an opportunity for conversation, storytelling, and reconnection. When you bond with others and experience a sense of connection, endogenous opioids and oxytocin are released that stimulate pleasant feelings. The neurochemical changes lead to improved well-being and contentedness.”

After a busy day, reconnecting with your spouse over dinner, and getting those feel-good chemicals flowing, can only keep one’s marriage strong.

2. Share a nightcap

Along the same idea is the importance of sharing a nightcap.

I am not saying that you must be drinking alcohol (although a little buzz can be a nice side benefit) but taking the time to sit down together and talk about your day can be an incredibly bonding experience.


I know that when my ex-husband and I were happiest was the summer that we spent drinking rum and tonics on the couch after work, watching our kids play with the neighbors. I don’t know why we stopped that habit but we did. And now we aren’t married.

3. Embrace alone time

I know that it would seem that, for couples to have a lifetime of joy, time together is very important. I mean, don’t you want to spend as much time as you can with someone you love?

Well maybe, but maybe not.

I can tell you that I am about to marry the love of my life. And, yes, we have dinner together nightly and usually a nightcap too, but, on the weekends, he spends his day in the barn and I spend my days doing whatever else I am doing around the house.


Of course, this isn’t every weekend but, more often than not, my husband-to-be and I spend the day apart, coming together for lunch and a walk before dinner.

Spending time together, but apart, is a wonderful part of our relationship. We get to do what we want to do, knowing that we are each nearby and that we will reconnect at the day’s end.

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

4. Do things together

On the flip side, do things together.

In my work, I have discovered that many unhappily married people never do things together.

While their common interests are what drew them together, over time, they have drifted apart and have found that they no longer have things that they like to do together.


Instead of spending time together, they spend time alone or with their friends, missing out on a key opportunity to have some bonding time with their partner.

Do you and your spouse still spend time together doing things that you both enjoy? If not, I would encourage you to change that as soon as possible. And have fun doing so!

5. Have small daily habits

It’s the little things that do a great job of keeping us connected.

I mean rituals — coffee in the morning, Tuesday lunches in the park, Saturday burritos with a hike.

For my fiancé and me, I get up and make him coffee and oatmeal every morning and I do up his collar buttons as he heads out the door. We take a walk every day after work and have Pad Thai on Friday nights.


I love our little daily habits. They keep us connected and make every day special.

RELATED: 20 Healthy Marriage Habits I've Learned In My 30 Years As A Psychotherapist

6. Words of affirmation

“I don’t need to tell her I love her. She knows.” I hear this from my male clients, and male friends, all the time.

And they are wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Everyone, man and woman, loves to be told that they are loved. That they are beautiful or cherished or wanted. To be told that their person is proud of them or appreciates all that they do.

I know that you might think that how you feel about your spouse is obvious but I encourage you to tell them. I mean, what is the worst that can happen if you do?


7. Stay close

As important as words of affirmation are in a happy marriage, so is physical touch.

I am not meaning that you must have sex every day (but if you want to, go for it!). What I am saying that it is important to touch your person regularly.

Why? Because physical touch gets those feel good chemicals, oxytocin and dopamine, flowing which leads us to feeling connected in a big way.

What kind of physical touch? How about holding hands, a light butt tap when you are walking by, putting your arm around them on the couch, touching their knee in the car.

Whatever it is that feels authentic to you and that they enjoy.

8. Always be honest

This is a must. Always, always, always be honest.


No lying to protect them. No lying by omission. No trying to hide something so that they don’t get upset. No lying, no hiding, no omitting key information.

Couples that are in a marriage that is full of joy are couples who are always honest with each other.

Honesty can sometimes hurt but it hurts a relationship way more to be caught in a lie.

9. Don’t be passive-aggressive

Along the same lines of never lying is never being passive-aggressive.

Passive aggressiveness is defined as “a pattern of indirectly expressing negative feelings instead of openly addressing them.”

In other words, instead of telling someone how we feel about any given situation, we shut down. We say that we are alright when asked, even if we aren’t. Instead of directly addressing an issue, we hint, often unkindly, about what we are unhappy about. We make snide comments and shut down.


None of these habits will help keep a relationship full of joy. Being direct, being honest, even if it hurts, will do so.

RELATED: How The Happiest Couples Keep Their Marriage Running Smoothly

10. Prioritize the relationship

In this crazy world, this is a hard one — making sure that your relationship is a priority.

Be honest, how good are you at prioritizing your relationship? Have you maybe been taking it for granted because things at work have been hard? Have you maybe been ignoring your husband because the kids are such a handful? Does watching a football game take precedence over dinner out with your wife?

It is very important that we prioritize our relationships. It is so easy to ignore our relationships, believing that they are strong enough to get through anything, only to find out, too late, that we are wrong.


11. Celebrate the small things and the big ones

How much fun is it to celebrate when things are going right?

So many things are wrong in this world right now and we all need to take the time to celebrate moments, big and small.

Of course, big events like birthdays and anniversaries should never be ignored (and if you have been letting them go because of the time you have spent together, don’t). Celebrations don’t have to be big but a toast at dinner with some loving words acknowledging the special day can go a long way.

Take notice of the little things too. The reaching the top of the mountain you hike. Grilling the perfect steak. Sticking to the budget will allow you to loosen the purse strings a bit.


A little celebration every now and then can only bring more joy into any relationship.

12. Surprise each other

One day my husband-to-be came home after work and told me to put on some warm clothes and get in the car. He packed up some things and jumped in the driver’s seat.

He drove me down to the local boatyard where a beautiful cruiser, called ‘Patience,’ was waiting to take us on a sunset cruise. Afterward, we stopped at my favorite place for dinner.

It was such a lovely surprise and a break in our everyday routine and thinking about it makes me smile every time!

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13. Go to bed at the same time and/or wake up together

One of the things that my ex-husband and I did every single day of our marriage was that we went to bed together.

I can’t think of a time that one of us would go upstairs early and the other would come up when they were ready. Instead, we made an effort to turn off the downstairs lights together and go up to bed. We would read and one of us would fall asleep (usually me) and then off to sleep we would go, usually spooning.

When we were talking to our therapist at the end of our marriage, he said that the fact that we went to bed together every night was one of the reasons that our marriage lasted as long as it did.

We did this one thing together, a thing that involved us sharing the experience of going to sleep, and having some physical connection at the same time, which was very profound.


Of course, this one thing was not enough to keep us together but it was an excellent tool in our toolbox and one that I am using in my current, very happy relationship.

14. Hold hands when walking

How often do you walk beside your spouse and not touch them? Not because you don’t care about them but just because you don’t.

Next time you walk together, reach out and hold their hand. Even if it’s just for a moment, that physical touch will make them feel special.

15. Trust each other

A healthy relationship must be based on trust. Trust that your person would never lie to you, that they will support you always and that they 100 percent have your back.


If you have the utmost confidence that you can trust your partner in every way, then you very well might find a lifetime of joy together.

RELATED: 8 Sweet Ways Happily Married Couples Stay Happy Together

16. Say 'I love you'

This is one daily habit that you absolutely must do if you want to have a wonderful life with your spouse.

As time goes on, we tend to take each other for granted. We know that the love is there but we just assume that each other knows and doesn’t point it out daily.

Saying “I love you” will let your spouse know that, even after all this time, you still love them. Telling them so will let them know that you think about that love regularly and want to share it with them.


Even if it’s just when they walk out the door or when you hang up the phone, telling your partner you love them will help lead to a lifetime of joy together.

17. Talk to each other

It’s amazing how many couples, as time goes on, stop talking to each other.

They stop sharing mundane things, like how their days were. They stop talking about things that interest them and about plans for the future.

It is important that spouses continue to talk together about anything and everything. I remember my daughter telling me that my ex-husband was so happy with his new wife because they talked about things other than the kids.

So, make sure that you and your spouse keep talking, much like you did at the beginning of your relationship.


18. Stay equal

For many marriages, especially marriages that have kids, the wife tends to take over and run things, both big and small.

The husband tends to go along with this to keep the peace – after all, a happy wife means a happy household.

It is essential that couples not let this happen.


When looking at the divorce rate of our social group, my daughter observed that it was the couples who were equal in their relationships, where they shared chores and control, who were the ones who didn’t divorce.

They were the ones who still respected each other and counted on each other to support them. They were the ones who experienced a lifetime of joy.

19. Make important decisions together

Much like staying equal, it is important that couples make important decisions together.

A client's boyfriend was struggling with work and money. She knew that he was depressed and tried to support him. One day he announced that he was going to stay with his sister in North Carolina for a few months until he got back on his feet.


He announced. He didn’t talk to her about it. They didn’t make this decision together. He announced.

She wants to make the relationship work but feels very hurt that he made this decision unilaterally. I don’t see much future for them, I am afraid.

RELATED: 15 Top Signs Of An Unhappy Marriage You Don't Want To Ignore

20. No nitpicking

This one is obvious — no nit-picking.

No little asides expressing frustrations. No telling them that the shirt that they are wearing is ugly. No snide comments about their cleaning techniques.

People who are in relationships that bring them joy do one of two things. They express how they are feeling in a direct way so that their frustrations can be addressed or, two, they roll with things and don’t let the shirt or the cleaning techniques bother them.


Nitpicking is mean and it’s hard to love someone who does it.

21. Manage expectations

I always tell my clients that they must manage expectations about their spouses.

Movies and TV have set us up to believe that, if we truly love someone, they will anticipate our needs and act on them. That they will never make mistakes or let us down. That our love will be strong for every moment of every day.

Unfortunately, the movies lead us astray every time.

The happiest couples, the ones who have the most joy, don’t expect movie-level love. They know that we are all people who are trying to do our best in the world. Our spouse would love to anticipate what we need but sometimes they just can’t.


If we can manage our expectations around our partners, we will never be let down by them. How can that not only make a relationship better?

22. Cheer each other on

This is so important and something that many couples struggle with – cheering each other on. Celebrating the wins, big and small. Encouraging each other to go after their dreams and supporting them as they do.

The key to every marriage that is full of joy is that each of them knows that their person will encourage them to be the best person in the world.

Some of these habits are small things that can be practiced every day. Some of these habits are more overarching habits that, when applied regularly, can keep a couple connected.


Whatever kind of habits work for you, do them. Work together to create the life that you have always wanted and have a life full of joy!

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Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate who works exclusively with women to help them be all they want to be in this crazy world.