Being in a relationship can be really great, but not all couples always experience smooth sailing in the long-term. Although most people know that being a part of a couple requires compromise and effort to keep the spark alive, many people might be surprised by the other less-obvious factors that make a happy relationship. If you find that your relationship might need a little work or you're not sure it's going to last, you might want to consider some of the more subtle qualities of a long-lasting, blissful pairing.
"People in a happy relationship often view their partner as their best friend, they value and maintain healthy communication with each other and see disagreements as normal, healthy challenges and have the resolve to work through them together," says psychologist and relationship expert Antonia Hall, MA over email. "Loving, happy couples support one another, cherish each other's wins, value intimacy and make time for each other."
Luckily, there are a lot of studies that look at the common denominators of happy relationships, and we can use this research to help cultivate good relationships of our own. Here are 11 surprising things that can help contribute to a happy relationship, according to science.
1. Posting Less On Social Media
You might see pictures of all those smiling couples on Facebook and Instagram, but they may not actually have a better relationship than you do. According to a study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, people tend to post about their relationship more on social media when they're feeling insecure about their partners affections. Happier couples are more present in the moment and don't feel the need to show off their contentment to their feed as often.
2. Having Sex Once A Week
Bedroom intimacy is important in a relationship, but you don't need to be getting it on like crazy to be happy. One study from the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science found that couples are happiest when having sex once a week. People report being less happy when they hit the sack less than once a week, but they feel no happier having sex more than once — so that part is up to you!
3. Being Upfront About "Embarrassing" Things
It's easy to pretend to your significant other that you never fart or poop, but it looks like honesty might be the better route to take. According to a study from the journal Social Problems, couples who are comfortable talking about poop together are happier than couples who feel it's a gross or shameful subject.
4. Having A Positive Outlook
Having a good attitude can not only rub off on your partner, but on your relationship quality as well. "A 2014 study conducted by the University of Chicago showed that when husbands had a positive attitude, there was less conflict in the relationship," says Hall.
5. Having Regular Date Nights
"A recent study conducted in the UK indicated that those married couples who had at least one date night per month were less likely to break up," says Hall. "Similar studies have had the same result, and it's believed that when couples take time to spend out together, it reinforces the importance of their relationship for each other."
6. Emphasizing Your Friendship With Each Other
Romance is important, but so is maintaining sense of friendship with your lover. Research from the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that couples who put emphasis on the friendship part of their relationship were happier. But don't worry about becoming too platonic — they also reported being more sexually satisfied.
7. Maintaining Friends Outside The Relationship
Just because you have a great friendship with your partner doesn't mean you shouldn't have friends outside of the relationship, though. "Relying strictly on each other for all of your emotional support can put strains on the relationship," says Hall. "Studies show that having family and friends you can talk to is an important resource to take pressure off of the relationship."
8. Sharing Chores
No one wants to the burden of cooking and cleaning to solely fall on them, and sharing responsibilities can help instill a feeling of balance in the relationship. A study by Pew Research Center shows that couples who share the chores have more successful relationships.
9. Taking Time For Yourself
"It's important to feel like a complete individual on one's own in order to couple happily," says Hall. "This is found through taking personal space and having hobbies and activities separate from one's partner." One study from the University of Michigan found that couples had stronger relationships when they took time for themselves.
10. Giving Out Compliments
You might feel positive emotions about your significant other, but it's important to share them instead of keeping them to yourself. Research from renowned psychologist Dr. John Gottman shows that in good marriages, compliments outnumber criticisms by more than five to one. "Being emotionally connected and supportive of your mate is proven to put you in the happy zone," says relationship expert Alexis Nicole White over email.
11. Trying New Things Together
"Being spontaneous by creating new experiences to keep the relationship fresh will always create a sense of happiness in the relationship," says White. One study from Stony Brook University found that couples who spent time together doing new and exciting activities were more satisfied with their relationships. Bungee jumping, anyone?
There's no one recipe for success, but these little things can help contribute to a positive relationship overall.
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