Your relationship is going strong. But you know there is always a way to make it better. A happy marriage doesn’t just happen by accident, and you will likely find that your relationship will decay if you don’t nurture it. Here are some ways you can cultivate happiness as a couple so that both of you are happy and satisfied with the relationship.
Work on Keeping a Positive Mood
You can significantly influence the tone of your relationship. Your mood is contagious and is likely to influence your partner’s mood as well. A study found that partners tend to pick up on each other’s moods and react likewise. If you want to cultivate happiness as a couple, make efforts to focus on the positive and be in a good mood yourself.
Make Love More Often
Having sex more often usually translates to the amount of happiness in your relationship. Several studies have shown that having sex on a regular basis keeps the spark alive. But don’t worry that you need to get busy every day to reap the benefits. One study showed that once a week was the frequency at which maximum happiness was achieved.
The more often you laugh together, the happier you’re likely to feel about your relationship. But the positive effects of laughing together are seen whether you’re recalling a previous experience you shared or watching something funny. What matters is the mutuality of the laughter. The genuineness of your laughter counts for a lot, too. Fake laughter or awkward chuckling doesn’t produce the same bonding between couples.
Pursue Separate Interests
It may seem counter-intuitive, but it is beneficial for your relationship for each of you to have separate interests and separate friends. Maintaining aspects of your life that do not include your partner gives you more to offer in your time together. It’s not that you should want to get away from your partner or don’t enjoy each other’s company, but that you have unique interests. You can pursue your hobbies or spend time with your friends, then come back to your spouse with new stories of your experience.
Spend Time Together
Even though it is good to have your own unique hobbies and friends, it’s possible to overdo it. Your relationship needs lots of time spent together to keep the bond between you strong. Couples who spend too much time apart engaged in separate activities can easily find themselves disconnected from one another.
When you feel like you’ve grown apart, the relationship is more likely to dissolve. Find things to do together that you both enjoy, even if it’s just taking a leisurely walk after dinner or binge-watching shows on Netflix together.
Practice the “5-to-1 Ratio”
Research shows that the happiest couples maintain something called the “5-to-1 ratio.” This means that you have five positive encounters with your spouse for every one negative encounter. This ratio is what couples experience early in the relationship. Unhappy couples are likely to have a much different ratio. Those who end up divorcing have just 0.8 positive encounters for every negative encounter. Having a ratio of more positive interactions creates more overall good feelings about your relationship.
Show Gratitude to Your Partner
Everyone wants to feel appreciated—especially by their spouse. But over time, many of us start to slack off on showing gratefulness to our partners. We may still be mindful of expressing thankfulness for big gestures, but may forget to acknowledge the little niceties that keep a relationship moving along. Make a concerted effort to notice the little things your spouse does to help you out, like remembering to put on the coffee in the morning. Show appreciation for the other things your spouse does that makes you feel valued as well, like cheering you up when you’ve had a bad day or listening to your stories about work. Being in a happy couple doesn’t require any special magic or sweeping, over-the-top acts. It requires a series of small but important gestures that add up to making both people feel loved and valued.
If you are ready to begin restoring the mutual satisfaction and happiness in your relationship, I would like to help. Please contact me via email or voicemail so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT