We all dream of being in happy relationships where we thrive off the love we share with our partners.
We want nothing short of the Michelle-Barack love or the Jay Z-Beyonce romance and can often find ourselves shaken when we hear of breakups and divorces of couples we admire.
Excuse me while I cry over the divorce of Megan Good and Devon Franklin.
There are some things happy couples do that we can learn from to make our relationships enviable. We must first start from the point that being a happy couple involves work and intentionality.
Happiness does not just fall on you like manna from heaven; you must be willing to put in the commitment and self-improvement strategies individually to make the relationship work when you come together as a couple.
Happy couples never:
1. Sweep hard conversations under the carpet
It’s easy to assume that you must never argue or disagree about anything to have a great relationship. The assumption that couples always need to be on the same page makes people shy away from difficult conversations. Experts refer to this as conflict avoidance.
People try to preserve harmony in relationships by avoiding tough conversations. It is the exact opposite of what happy couples do.
Hard conversations like issues of finances, addictions, and parenting can quickly turn into heated arguments. If couples learn to navigate these discussions with maturity and love, it strengthens their bond even more.
Couples we admire have realized that being happy does not mean there are no challenges; it just means they have learned to overcome the challenges with their partners through communication.
The world witnessed the cheating allegations that hit Jay Z and Queen B. I don’t think they are still standing strong today because they swept the issues under the carpet.
Two things happen when couples have hard conversations; they either grow stronger because they have poured their hearts out, or it can split them apart, indicating that their foundation was not strong in the first place.
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Experts say that we nag at the people in our lives because we love them deeply, but they also agree that giving up nagging does not imply the absence of love. It just means giving up the illusion of control we think we have when we nag at our loved ones to get them to do what they need to do.
Psychologist Scott Wetzler says that we often nag because we feel we will not get what we want from the other person unless we ask repeatedly.
Both men and women nag, but research show that women are found to nag more likely because more women have the responsibility of home and family management and because “women are more sensitive to early signs of problems in a relationship”.
Of course, women alone are not to blame for the nagging in the relationship. Men do not communicate back clearly when women make a request, so there is a cycle of aggressive requests from the nagger and annoyance by the “nagee”.
It has been proven that nagging leads to an increase in divorce rates. Happy couples do not nag. If there’s an issue, they find a healthy way to deal with it.
How can you stop nagging? Experts recommend that firstly you need to recognize the pattern you are in, then address it as a team. You should also look at the other person’s perspectives.
Your partner may feel unappreciated when you nag. Finally, set a time frame for your requests and manage your expectations.
3. Hold grudges
Holding grudges weaken the bond between couples, says couples therapist Dr. Gary Brown. Happy couples never do this; they find a way to work out differences, forgive each other and move on.
It’s human to want to recount past hurts your partner has caused you because the pain caused by loved ones cuts deep. However, we must resist the temptation to do so.
Holding grudges lead to resentment, eroding trust, and eventually feelings of bitterness set in, which may be difficult to get back from.
It is essential to examine what issues you are still holding your partner prisoner for in your relationship. Once you identify these, have a heart-to-heart talk with your partner about it. Begin the process of letting go and truly healing.
4. Take each other for granted
When we know that someone loves us, sometimes we can take that for granted, even unintentionally.
We may get drowned in the busyness of life. Trying to meet work deadlines or looking after kids can quickly make us forget to show our partners that they are important to us.
Soon we are too exhausted to even want to make love or go on a romantic date.
Happy couples do not take each other for granted. Sure, they may occasionally get too engrossed in other responsibilities, but they realize this early enough and take steps to address it.
The couples we admire have busy lives and duties just like every one of us, but the secret to staying happy is always showing appreciation to your partner.
Sometimes you may not even need to set aside a whole day or week to show your partner how important they are. You can include them in your activities so that they feel part of your world.
If you travel often, don’t just assume your partner is content staying back while you are away. Invite them to go with you and see your work. The few moments you have off work can become a romantic coffee date or promenade to your hotel room.
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5. Play games
Trust is the lifeline of any relationship. Once a partner engages in dishonest behavior like lying, cheating, or snooping around, trust can be broken.
Happy couples build their relationships on the foundation of openness, transparency, and honesty. When they have questions, they ask the other partner rather than snoop around or lie.
Happy couples talk openly about their expectations of sex, finances, and children. As said in the first point, they do not shy from complicated topics. Therefore, they will not engage in dishonest behaviors like cheating. They would instead tell their partner when they are not satisfied sexually.
If expectations are not being met, they will either discuss it with their partners and fix it or leave. Happy couples will not compromise on honesty just to stay in a relationship that makes them miserable.
6. Treat the other like an opponent
One of the most important reasons why people go into a relationship is for companionship; partnership. Therefore, it defeats the purpose of partnership if one partner treats the other like an opponent.
The best couples do not take a defensive stance when it comes to their partner. They recognize that everything they do is for the benefit of both. When one person succeeds, both succeed.
Sometimes when couples fight, it seems like the desire to win overtakes them, and they no longer argue as people with the same goal but as opponents in a boxing ring.
Happy couples never do this. There is no competition or trying to appear better than the other partner.
It makes no sense to be in opposition to your partner. If you can’t be on the same team, why are you together in the first place?
7. Call each other names
Okay, there are those times when you are having pillow fights or fun moments and just goofing around, calling each other names. We love those moments, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.
A friend once told me her dad used to call her mother a lazy woman. Well, no wonder they are divorced. Name-calling is a low blow, and it takes an insecure person to do this.
It is an act of putting another person down, stripping them of their self-respect and dignity. This is something a happy couple never does.
When some couples fight, it can get dirty, and name-calling is inevitable, but partners who have maintained joy and respect in their relationship know how to fight fair.
Speaking with respect and love helps you clarify your points and communicate with passion without resorting to name-calling.
The idea here is not to make you think that if these 7 things happen in your relationship, you’re headed for doom, far from it. This is a wake-up call for you.
These things may happen once or twice in your relationship but knowing that they will only lead to unhappiness helps you deal with them immediately.
Happy couples put in the work of learning how to tackle the behaviors that harm their relationships and their joy.
If you are willing, you can make your relationship a happy, desirable one. The kind we all dream of. You deserve it.