Love is likely one of the most complicated feelings you’ll ever have, whether you've adopted habits that happy couples have or not. Having a happy relationship is hard work. Don't believe me? Turn on a country radio station. Alongside a song about getting married on a mountaintop, you’ll hear a song about smashing in an ex’s pickup truck windshield.
That being said, research has pinpointed effective habits of happy couples, and it’s becoming pretty clear that finding fulfillment and satisfaction in your relationship is just as much of a choice as switching the aforementioned radio station from country to classic rock. Which I do. Often. In actuality, though, there are habits happy couples have that fuel and nurture their bond, instead of tearing it down.
Once you start to implement these happy and healthy couple habits, you’ll see that trust flourishes, bonds deepen, feelings of love increase, and conversations triumph over arguments. Oh, and if that’s not enough motivation, the sex gets really good. Check out these super effective habits that all happy couples practice on a daily basis, so you can take a time machine away from monotonous and tense, and back to those honeymoon-phase butterflies the two of you experienced at your one-month anniversary mark.
1. They Work To Understand Their Partner’s Love Language
The first thing a happy couple needs to realize is that everyone has their own love language, and just because your partners’ isn’t the same as yours, it doesn’t mean they don’t care. New York Times best-seller The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts remains one of the best resources on the subject. It breaks down each love language and explains it in a clear, relatable, and humorous tone, so you can better understand where your partner is coming from, and in what form you can find his or her love on a daily basis. It helps to cultivate the gratitude and appreciation that every couple is looking for, and some even say they read it as a last-ditch effort, and it totally saved their marriages.
2. They Cook Together
Countless studies have found a link between cooking and healthy relationships, as it requires communication and cooperation, as well as helps with bonding and stress relief. This Date Night In is essentially one big sexy cookbook packed with delicious recipes for two. You’ll be fully inspired to work in a stay-at-home date night every week, preparing everything from fennel-crusted lamb chops to nectarine creamsicles with your loved one (no, that’s not a euphemism). Reviewers say that these recipes are spot on and the writing is vulnerable and beautiful — especially given the fact that it’s a cookbook.
3. They Touch Each Other
The mere act of touching someone else prompts the release of the hormone oxytocin, which cultivates love, relaxation, trust, and happiness. To make that touching an activity all of its own, take turns giving massages with these Plantlife aromatherapy massage oils. They contain only pure and natural ingredients, and they are formulated with essential oils for the most relaxing experience possible. This set comes with three different blends — sore muscles, lavender, and relax — and reviewers love them because of the smooth, non-sticky consistency and the incredible fragrances.
4. They Break Routine
Spontaneity and surprise can do a lot for a relationship, and that’s why everything’s so blissful during the honeymoon phase. To keep things new and fresh well into your coupledom, check out 37 Days of Different . Author and blogger Camilla Kragius presents a new and innovative inspiration each day, designed to break you out of your comfort zone in a little more than a month. It’s easy to read and filled with quotes, anecdotes, motivational blurbs, and room to journal, and when completed alongside your partner, you’ll both have a fresh and exciting outlook by the end of the challenge. One psyched reviewer says, “This book delivers practical ideas to open your mind to new things, broaden your social circle, and add some fun to your day!”
5. They Keep Communication Alive
Conversations among couples can get pretty routine, but to feel as close as you did while you were dating, it’s important to delve a little deeper than the daily “How’d you sleep?” and the nightly “How was work?” Question of the Day by Al Katkowsky is one of my favorite books I have on my bookshelf, because it’s filled with a wonderful mix of hilarious, surprising, and deep questions, all of which are super original and really get the conversation rolling. Each question is presented on its own page with illustrations and a light to heavy rating, so put this gem on your coffee table, and flip it open whenever you and your partner need a little inspiration.
6. They Keep Sex Interesting
According to a study in The Journal of Sexual Research, researchers found that among 96 different couples, "relationship satisfaction was greater when partners reported making more sexual transformations." In other words, time to try something new. These Sex Position Of The Day cards can be used like any deck, but here’s the interesting part: Each one has a new and innovative sex position on it, so you and your partner can mix up your usual routine in lieu of something more fun and exciting. Imagine playing Go Fish with the card-equivalent of the Kama Sutra in your hands. Yeah. Can you say best game night ever?
7. They Know How To Argue Efficiently
When it comes to arguing, few couples have a happy medium. Either they pretend that things aren’t bothering them and keep quiet, which harbors resentment, or they nitpick, finding unreasonable fault that starts arguments at every single dinner party. I Hate Conflict! is a book that teaches you how to quit avoiding problems and instead talk, listen, and solve with compassion and calmness. Instead of looking at conflicts as problems, couples can use them as an opportunity to strengthen and nurture their relationships, and psychotherapist Lee Raffel creates a very realistic and practical approach that teaches readers how to argue in such a way that truly benefits the relationship.
8. They Travel Together
Traveling together strengthens relationships because it keeps romance alive, prompts you to solve problems together, creates new experiences and conversations, and helps you to associate your partner with excitement and happiness. If you’re looking for some ideas or inspiration, The Box Wine Sailors is a book about a couple who quits their jobs and heads out to sea for an adventure across the Pacific Ocean. It recounts their experiences through blue skies and terrifying storms, strengthening their relationship every step (or paddle) of the way. The writing is clear, yet poetic and poignant, and one reviewer warns, “Beware: after reading this book, you'll have the urge to do wonderful, stupid things. This book makes you want to live, but like REALLY live. It makes you want to change your life, to take risks you never thought you had the courage to take.”
9. They Use Self-Love To Cultivate Empathy
Not only has it been proven that meditation increases happiness, cultivates confidence, and reduces stress, but it also increases grey matter in the area of the brain that’s associated with compassion and empathy, and that’s why couples who meditate could be happier. For those of us with a more scientific and practical brain, Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy integrates ancient teachings of meditation into the modern world with realistic suggestions and cutting-edge research. Not only does this book help you to cultivate your own sense of self-love through mindfulness, but because it’s written primarily for psychological practices, it helps the reader to teach these tactics to their partner, improving the relationship tenfold. Readers of all kinds — not just specialists — love author Tim Desmond’s effortless writing and innovative insights, and that’s why this book is so highly rated.
10. They Draw Attention To The Positives
According to a study in the Journal of Personal Relationships, gratitude has the ability to entirely transform the way a couple interacts. While nitpicking and feelings of expectancy have the potential to rot your relationship from the inside out, feeling thankful for the small things your partner does and says is like a “booster shot for the relationship.” Gratitude: A Daily Journal is an exercise you can do with your partner or by yourself, and once you start to plot the small things in your daily life that you appreciate, you’ll find that your gratitude becomes contagious. It’s created by Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup For The Soul series and one of the biggest names in self-help.
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