Healthy Couples Practice These 8 Habits, According To The Experts

While a lot of couples tend to experience the same phases and milestones (like the "my-partner-is-amazing-and-perfect" honeymoon phase, or the inevitable first jealousy fight), some couples are generally happier than others. That's because healthy and happy couples practice certain habits, and these tendencies often cultivate love, trust, and satisfaction within their relationships. It’s an ongoing topic of research and discussion, and that’s because a really good relationship has the potential to totally transform your life; not only are you spending time with someone who makes you feel appreciated and fulfilled, but you’re learning loads about yourself and your own happiness in the process.

That’s why I spoke with two awesome relationship experts: Monica Parikh, who’s a dating coach and the founder of the School of Love NYC, and Aimee Hartstein, who’s a licensed clinical social worker and relationship therapist. Together, these two provided some really great insights into what separates the successful couples from the ones who can’t seem to stop bickering. Here are a few of the most helpful habits (according to the experts) that keep a relationship healthy and happy, plus, a few tips that might spark some positive progress for both you and your partner:

1. They Have Their Own Hobbies

Loves Me, Loves Me Not, $10, Amazon

If you’re having some trouble finding your independence in a relationship, Loves Me, Loves Me Not is an awesome resource. Written by Simeon Lindstrom, this book provides you with insights about how mindfulness and communication can help you find happiness in your own activities and approval, so you can stop relying on other people for it. If you find that you’re feeling a little too much resentment and guilt in your relationship, this book will help you feel more compassion and acceptance (both for yourself and your partner), so you can start moving toward more happiness in your relationship. When you love someone, it’s common to want to spend all your time with them. However, according to experts Parikh and Hartstein, couples who are too dependent on one another will inevitably end up disappointed (being someone's “everything” is a lot of pressure, after all). “See your friends, cultivate hobbies, go out with other couples together,” they told me over email.

(Psst! Listen to this title on Audible now on a free 30-day trial, including two free audiobooks.)

2. They Cultivate Trust

I Love You But I Don’t Trust You , $12, Amazon

I asked Parikh and Hartstein how to cultivate trust in a relationship, and they told me that it’s a mix of awareness, level-headedness, and being a trustworthy person yourself. “More often than not, when someone ends up betraying us, we can look back and see many red flags all along the way. Keep your eyes open without being overly paranoid,” they say. However, paranoia is something that most people struggle with because of past hurts, and it can destroy a new relationship before it ever really starts. I Love You But I Don’t Trust You is a book that examines the issue from all angles. First, it helps you to decide if the relationship is even worth your trust in the first place. Next, it helps you to recognize the stages of trust-building, so you can once again feel secure in your relationships and your partners. Reviewers say they love author Mira Kirshenbaum’s personal and straight-forward writing style, and that it’s the most accurate and helpful book on the subject that they’ve ever been lucky enough to stumble upon.

(Psst! Check out this title now on the free Kindle reading app.)

3. They Keep Communication Alive

Tabletopics Couples Conversations, $25, Amazon

It’s really easy to get into the habit of thinking you know everything there is to know about your partner, especially if you’ve been dating a while. “Everyone's life is really busy, but it's important to make time to talk and connect on a consistent basis,” the experts say. This conversation game makes it fun and easy to touch on topics that might not come up naturally in your everyday lives, and because it’s an activity in and of itself, you’ll be carving out time in your day for communication and bonding. This game's intriguing question cards inspire you to delve deeper into your partners’ aspirations, thoughts, memories, and fantasies. It’s also awesome practice for discussing some of those harder-to-acknowledge subjects — an important part of the conversation. After all, “It also needs to be okay to discuss touchy subjects," Parikh and Hartstein said. "There will always be areas of contention, but both parties need to be willing to entertain discussions that are difficult without fear of the other’s knee-jerk anger."

4. They Can Laugh About Anything

You Can’t Ruin My Day , $15, Amazon

The easiest and most nurturing way to resolve conflict is to find a way to laugh about it. “The best antidote to [irritation] is a sense of humor!” Parikh and Hartstein told me. “Then it will never become a ‘code red’ situation!” You Can’t Ruin My Day is a book that teaches readers how to take their power back in a difficult situation. It provides 52 themes to help anyone recognize a situation that has the potential to create problems, turn it around with practical exercises, and find a way to laugh it off for a happier life and relationship. The author, Allen Klein, ties in his own story with humor and fresh perspective, and readers and reviewers say it provided all the right tips and tricks to help them move past the small stuff and recognize the good in things.

(Psst! Listen to this title on Audible now on a free 30-day trial, including two free audiobooks.)

5. They Keep Things Fresh In The Bedroom

Kama Sutra Blackbook, $16, Amazon

When asked how couples can keep their sex lives happy and healthy, the experts say, “Be open, try new things, laugh. Know your own body, and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.” The Kama Sutra Blackbook is a modern and straightforward translation of the ancient text about sexual healing. It teaches the reader about everything, including foreplay, kissing, sexually-related arts, and positions in informative and direct language. Reviewers say that it didn’t just help them switch things up sexually — it also helped their relationship improve physically, emotionally, and spiritually, both inside the bedroom and outside of it.

(Psst! Check out this title on Kindle Unlimited for a free 30-day trial.)

6. They Say Thank You

Gratitude: A Way Of Life , $13, Amazon

When I asked Parikh and Hartstein which small daily habits have the ability to transform a relationship, they say, “'Thank you’ goes a long way… People can really suffer from not feeling appreciated. Usually, it ends up devolving into both parties keeping score.” Most couples run into problems because, especially when you’re spending a lot of time with someone, it’s much easier to nitpick than it is to express gratitude. Gratitude: A Way Of Life is a top-rated book by Louise Hay (and friends) that pulls together inspiring stories to help readers find gratitude in every little interaction — something as simple as being asked, “How are you?” While it’s meant to transform your life in every area, relationships will most definitely improve markedly, as you’ll start to view your partner with appreciation and compassion, and they’ll instinctively reciprocate.

7. They Give Compliments Freely

KindNotes Jar Of Messages, $32, Amazon

When it comes to habits that make all the difference, “a compliment a day is always a nice thing that makes couples feel good. Don't be spartan with compliments,” Parikh and Hartstein tell me. However, genuine heartfelt compliments don't always come exactly when your partner needs them. You can tweak that timeline with this jar of messages, which basically ensures your partner has an extra push from you right when they need it. Simply fill the custom-fit envelopes with compliments or words of appreciation, and your partner can open it whenever he or she feels like they need a little pick-me-up. It comes with more than 30 note cards (and you can even pick your color preference, so it matches your partner’s style, too).

8. They Know They Can Rely On Each Other

Bigtime Dry Erase Chalkboard Calendar, $20, Amazon

According to Parikh and Hartstein, security and reliability are really important. “Fireworks are fantastic but they don’t last," they say. "Knowing you have a [person] who is going to be there when the chips are down is truly what’s important.” For anyone who has a little trouble being as reliable as they’d like, find a tool that lays out what can be expected from each partner on a day-to-day basis. This dry erase calendar, for example, has space for daily planning, as well as lines for noting what's still left to be done. Its semi-permanent application sticks to any wall or space, so being a reliable partner (and being able to rely on someone else) becomes an easy and convenient task.

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Images: Pexels; Amazon (8)