We asked Monica Meyer, an Ottawa-based counsellor and therapist, what exactly makes happy couples tick. "The good news is that you are never too young or too old to change your attitude and foster the relationship skills necessary to become that happy couple," she says.
Read on to learn about the habits of happy couples, some of which may surprise you.
Happy couple secret No. 1: They do unexpected things
Sure, you know each other so well you can recite each other's tired dinner party anecdotes, but why not try surprising each other once in awhile, suggests Meyer.
Consider a thoughtful shake up to the usual routine, whether it's snagging last-minute tickets to a show on a weeknight or simply turning off the computers, cellphones and TVs to just focus on each other.
Happy couple secret No. 2: They aren't attached at the hip
Happy couples have both mutual and separate interests and do not force themselves to do "couple-y" things. If his-and-hers ballroom dancing lessons cause anxiety and result in a fight, book that evening Zumba class with your friends instead, and encourage your partner to do something with his buddies.
Taking time for individual activities is a commitment to your future together. Instead of forcing together time, you're giving your relationship space and time for yourselves to look forward to seeing one another.
Happy couple secret No. 3: They communicate
The happiest couples have open dialogue on a daily basis. "Couples need to speak words of affirmation and support, physically touch each other and book time for intimacy," says Meyer.
Sharing your feelings, and then truly listening when your partner shares his own, will bring you closer together. Lips and ears are great for talking, but they're not bad for kissing either, so make time for stealing smooches to strengthen your physical and emotional bond.
Page 1 of 2 -- Discover how random acts of kindness, setting realistic expectations, and agreeing to disagree can help bring happiness to your relationship on page 2
Happy couple secret No. 4: They are realistic
If everything you know about relationships is based on TV programs, movies or bestselling fiction, think again.
"All relationships face hardships, and it's a mistake to think that perhaps you simply chose the wrong person and need to keep trying to find the right one," says Meyer. Truly happy couples focus on loving their spouse for the reality of who they actually are.
Happy couple secret No. 5: They practise random acts of kindness
It's easy to assume that your partner knows you love them -- "I'm still here, aren't I?" -- but happy couples realize that it is impossible to give your partner too much support or to care too much.
Try to take more time to tell your partner how proud you are of them when they get through another rough day at the office. Meyer recommends practising random acts of kindness. For example, take a moment to send a text or email to let your partner know that you're thinking about them, and not just because you want to remind them to pick up cat litter on the way home.
Happy couple secret No. 6: They agree to disagree
Some issues are just not so easily resolved. Instead of torturing themselves and arguing to the point where someone ends up hurt or bitter, happy couples often just acknowledge the impasse and move on.
"Accept that there are going to be hard times," Meyer advises. Believe it or not, even the most well-suited pair will have something that they just don't see eye to eye on, and maybe never will.
Happy couple secret No. 7: They don't belittle each other
Happy couples know that being overly critical only leads to resentment or feelings of worthlessness. Meyer emphasizes that to maintain happiness couples must try to keep criticism to a minimum, or abolish it altogether. Try complimenting instead of criticizing, with a focus on the positive.
Small changes have big effects on relationships, so enjoy honing your happiness skills and the immediate rewards -- including the satisfaction of being one of "those" happy couples.
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