Singaporebrides | Relationships

November 2018

10 Simple, Daily Habits for Happy Married Life

Healthy habits can create incredibly happy married life.

Most relationships start out happy. You smile whenever you think about your partner, your heart skips a beat when you see them dressed up for a date, your stomach does a flip when you receive a flirty text. You’re deeply in love, and incredibly happy.

Have you noticed couples who’ve been together for decades who are still just as happy together? How do they do it?

Psychotherapist Ashley Davis Bush believes that having healthy habits goes a long way towards building a happy married life together, where couples experience affection, appreciation, tenderness, and attention on a daily basis. “The key to a great marriage is the quality of the habits you share together,” she says. “Healthy, positive habits create an extraordinarily happy marriage. Negative habits create chronic dissatisfaction.”

You may have heard that real love takes work, but it’s more true to say that sustaining love takes intentionality. The couples who are still happy with each other after decades of marriage are those who pay attention to their relationship and cultivate its happiness daily with small, yet significant, gestures. We’ve rounded up some of these great habits. They’re small and easy to incorporate into your day-to-day lifestyles, which increases the likelihood that they will stick!

Claire and Charles’ Vibrant Melbourne Pre-Wedding Adventure by Darren and Jade Photography

1. Spend Time Together

According to Reader’s Digest, a study titled “Let’s Stay Home and Watch TV” that collected data from 200 couples in long-term committed relationships found “a direct link between media consumption together and relationship satisfaction”. The more these couples binge-watched together, the more satisfied they rated themselves with their partner. Does this mean that binge-watching is necessary to a healthy relationship? No, it basically means that spending time together, even on something as simple as “Netflix and chill”, promotes a healthier relationship. Happy couples make spending time together a priority.

2. Be Familiar with Each Other’s Lives

Happily married couples know each other well. They remember which friends are important to their partner, and which colleagues are giving them a hard time. They know their partner’s relaxing rituals, their favourite book or TV show, and their current goals. They know their partner’s likes, dislikes, dreams, and fears. Happy couples understand what makes each other tick. As marriage researchers The Gottman Institute asks in their article “7 Signs Your Relationship Will Last,” “If you don’t really know someone, how can you truly love them?”

Happy couples make it a point to keep up with each other’s lives. As The Gottman Institute says, “It can be easy to lose sight of your partner. Life can get in the way.” They advise couples to keep updated on what’s going on in their partner’s lives—how their day has gone, their latest work projects, their new favourite foods. It’s essential for maintaining healthy, happy married life.

3. Don’t Take Each Other for Granted

Many relationships sour because couples start taking each other for granted. As the saying goes, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” You start getting used to your partner cooking every day and no longer show your appreciation. Your partner doesn’t feel appreciated, so in turn, they don’t show appreciation when you do things for them.

To combat this, try making a habit of thanking your partner every time they perform a small act of service for you, whether it’s doing the dishes, picking you up from work, or making you breakfast. A simple “Thank you” or “Dinner was great!” goes a long way towards making your partner feel valued.

Jillian and Daniel’s Gorgeous Bali Post-Wedding Shoot and Celebration by Maria Shiriaeva Photography

4. Kiss and Hug Hello and Goodbye

“Our skin has a memory of “good touch” (loved), “bad touch” (abused) and “no touch” (neglected),” explains psychologist Mark Goulston. “Couples who say hello with a hug keep their skin bathed in the “good touch.” In the morning, take a moment to kiss your partner before leaving for work, to show them that you prioritise them even during busy mornings. Act enthusiastic about greeting your partner after work. Welcoming your partner home with a long hug or a kiss is a great way to express your love. Psychotherapist Ashley Davis Bush recommends a full body hug for at least 20 seconds. “It takes 20 seconds to stimulate the flow of oxytocin, the bonding hormone,” she says. “When you activate the release of this hormone, you start to feel closer and more connected right away.”

5. Cultivate Common Interests

Happily married couples take up hobbies they can do together. If the initial passion dies down and they realise they have few interests in common, happy couples develop them. “By no means do you need to do everything together,” says Alexis Meads, a professional dating coach. “However, couples who stay together have fun doing some of the same things.” Whether it’s picking up a new sport together, or exploring new countries by yourselves, sharing enjoyable experiences with each other adds to the happiness of your relationship.

6. Check In with Each Other during the Day

Happy couples keep connected during the day while at their separate jobs. Calling your partner or sending a text message lets them know that you’re thinking of them. Check in with them and ask about their plans, or how their day is going. It also keeps you updated on how their day is going, so you’re more in sync when you meet after work.

7. Focus on the Positive

For really happy married life, focus more on the positive than the negative aspects of your relationship. Happy couples remember the things that their partner does right, instead of holding on to grudges when they do something wrong. As psychologist Mark Goulston says, “If you look for things your partner does wrong, you can always find something. If you look for what he or she does right, you can always find something, too. It all depends on what you want to look for. Happy couples accentuate the positive.”

Emi and Andre’s Elegant Star Wars Themed at Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa by Grow Old With Me Photography

8. Laugh Together

After being together for a long time, it’s easy for a relationship to slide into routine. You ask your partner what time they’ll be home for dinner, they ask you to pick up the milk. On the weekends, you’re both tired and prefer to catch up on sleep. Where did the fun go? “When couples get out of the habit of laughing together, their relationship is at risk of losing its joy and spirit,” says psychologist Samantha Rodman.

Research shows that couples who laugh together are happier. “In the article ‘Humour in Romantic Relationships, a Meta-Analysis,’ Hall looks back on 30 years’ worth of studies on the topic, concluding that ‘playfulness between romantic partners is a crucial component in bonding and establishing relational security’ and that laughter, ‘particularly shared laughter, is an important indicator of romantic attraction between potential mates,’” says Jeffrey Hall, University of Kansas associate professor of communication studies.

9. Set aside Time to Reconnect

Happy couples make it a priority to reconnect with each other. “They understand that in long-term relationships, affection and sex don’t just happen,” says Celeste Hirchman, sex and relationship coach. “Couples need to have a commitment to cultivating connection instead of hoping it just happens.” While you may no longer be all over each other the way you were at the start of your relationship, you should still set aside time when you put away your devices and screens and focus on each other. Happy couples commit to intentionally culivate connection, show affection, and learn and grown around sex.

10. Express Needs from a Place of Vulnerability

“You’re always on the computer!” “You never take out the trash!” Criticism is often a way couples express their needs, but instead of a request, it comes out as an attack, and your partner gets defensive instead of meeting your needs. Instead of accusing them of being on the computer all the time, try saying, “I’d like to spend some time with you,” or ask, “Could you help me with the housework?” instead of complaining that they don’t empty the trash.

As relationship coach Kyle Benson says, “Blaming our partner or hiding our feelings by criticising is easy. Speaking our feelings and fears requires a willingness to be vulnerable.” Happily married couples ask themselves why they feel angry with their partner, and open up to find the deeper need within. They are courageous about expressing their feelings from a place of vulnerability.

Credits: Fionne and Shi Liang’s Sweet Woodland and Beach Pre-Wedding Shoot by Tinydot Photography, cropped from original.

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10 Simple, Daily Habits for Happy Married Life