Maintaining a happy, loving relationship is hard work, especially when you are also juggling a busy career and/or being a parent. It is easy for even well-matched couples to fall into negative cycles or neglect to prioritize your relationship. Misunderstanding each other, fighting over the small stuff, or taking your relationship for granted are common negative patterns that can erode relationship happiness. Learn what research and clinical wisdom tell us about happy couples. By adopting these patterns, you can prevent or end negative cycles and deepen your long-term connection with your partner.
Listen – Unhappy couples get into cycles of criticize/defend or nag/withdraw that end up derailing communication. Nobody feels heard and understood, so there is no buildup of goodwill. Happy couples are more present with each other and make an effort to listen and take each other’s needs seriously.
Create Intimacy – Unhappy couples are more likely to operate like roommates. The whole focus is on errands and running the household. The sense of being attractive and desirable to your partner gets lost. Or unhappy couples may communicate mostly by fighting and arguing. By contrast, happy couples prioritize emotional and physical intimacy, creating a positive self-reinforcing cycle.
Repair Fights – Unhappy couples don’t resolve conflict. Arguments turn into hostile interactions or the silent treatment that goes on for days. By contrast, happy couples reach out to each other after fighting to show they still care, even if the issue isn’t fully resolved.
Act Courteously – Unhappy couples don’t exhibit courtesy and sensitivity in the way they treat each other. By contrast, happy couples don’t fight so dirty. They communicate a basic respect and warmth for each other in lots of small ways each day. They may hug goodbye, bring each other coffee or call to say they miss each other.
Have a Sense of Partnership – Unhappy couples don’t consider how their decisions are going to affect their partner, or they may hide important information from their partner to avoid a fight. This creates problems with trust. Happy couples act like partners. They put the relationship and family first most of the time, even if they have to sacrifice some things they may enjoy as an individual.
Support Each Other’s Happiness – Unhappy couples don’t focus on making their partner happy or may be convinced that she will be unhappy no matter what they do. Happy couples actively think about their partner’s happiness. The act thoughtfully, celebrate their partner’s successes, and they willingly to do extra work to help their partner move ahead.
If you are in an unhappy relationship, you may not be aware of your negative patterns, or that there are things you can do to facilitate rapid improvement. Couples Therapy can help you lessen negative behaviors and increase positive interactions that create loving feelings.