Habits of Healthy Couples
The 7 habits of healthy couples is a list that really got me thinking about my marriage last week. Nathan and I will be celebrating 13 years this year. Which is no easy feat, especially in this day and age where divorce rates are at about fifty percent.
I often joke about not being sure how we made it that long and I haven’t killed him. But the truth is there are habits we’ve developed over the years that really built a solid relationship.
What makes a happy and healthy relationship? Is it possible to create one? Yes! Yes, it is very possible to create both a happy and healthy relationship. Here are our habits that we’ve developed over the years to create a happy marriage. The habits of healthy couples are:
Make time for physical affection
I’m not just talking about sex either. Physical affection creates intimacy. Hugs, cuddling, kisses, hand holding. Those simple gestures of intimacy and physical closeness reduce stress and create a deeper bond between the couple.
One of my personal favorite gestures of physical affection is when Nathan holds my arm when we are out shopping or walking together. He walks faster than I do, as he is much taller. So when he takes my arm, he’s taking the time to stay with me and not unconsciously walk ahead. It is not only a gesture of physical affection, but it is one where he’s making me a priority and walking beside me.
Know how to fight fair
You can read about the Fair Fighting Rules that is essential for every couple. Conflict is completely ok! Yes, you read that correctly. Conflicts will happen, no matter what we do to try and prevent them. I never believe anyone when they say they don’t fight with their spouse.
Conflicts or fights will happen. The key here is to realize that the resolution is what is important. It is a great exercise in making sure both sides and needs are heard, and a resolution is reached. Marriage is a team sport! Remember that it isn’t you against your spouse. Resolution is key.
Conflict resolution skills take time to develop, and that is where the fair fighting rules really made the difference for us.
Tell each other what you need
I’m not a mind reader, and neither is Nathan. Nor is anyone else I know! It is easy to feel like if your spouse knows you, they should automatically know that there is an issue and exactly what it is.
I’ve found that opening a time once Nathan is home from work to specifically ask what he needs really works. Because it also gives me the opportunity to spell out exactly what I need. This can range from time together if either of us is feeling neglected, time for hobbies, or time for me to keep working if needed.
Allowing that opening for direct communication lets both of us be heard, and allows a medium to be reached. An example of that is I get roughly three hours with Nathan in between his jobs. If I need to work, I’ll take an hour of that three, and he can indulge in his own hobbies during that time. Then we make sure at the end of that hour to prioritize coming together and spending the other two hours together. Neither of us feel ignored or neglected because of that communication.
Prioritize their relationship
Marriage takes work. It is hard work. Whoever says it isn’t, well they lie. It is that simple. But nothing that is easy is worth it either. Marriage is an amazing thing when both partners are willing to put in the time and effort to make it amazing. This happens through prioritizing the relationship every single day of every week, month, and year.
This is a commitment from both that they will make the relationship a priority each and every day. Focus on the health and wellbeing of the relationship. Plants die without sunshine and water, right? Relationships die when they aren’t a priority.
Never stop dating your spouse either! Dating doesn’t end when you get married. It should continue throughout the entire relationship. There are a ton of inexpensive date night ideas too. Nathan and I turn it into a competition sometimes, and it adds a fun element to it.
Do you tell your partner how grateful you are for them and their actions? Is that a priority? It should be! Some couples do a gratitude exercise daily, and Nathan and I have done this in the past. It really does work. Sit down together and write a list of three things you’re each grateful for that the other person did or said that day. It can be the simplest things, it doesn’t have to be big things.
I think too often we think gratitude should be huge. Like Nathan deep cleans the entire house and it is amazing level big, versus just starting a load of laundry for me. It is really easy to take small things for granted and forget to be grateful. But when expressing gratitude, it really is the simple things.
Kind words and compliments go a very long way! But understanding each other’s love languages will go even farther in productive communication and gratitude.
Give the benefit of the doubt
Nathan only wants the best for me, and I’m the same way with him. But it is far too easy to become suspicious. Which is literally the simplest way to start a fight.
It starts with one partner doing or saying the wrong thing and it goes downhill from there because it is easy to automatically think the worst. They said it on purpose, just to hurt you. That was their only intention, to hurt you. They’re just being malicious.
We as humans are messy and emotional. So it is easy to jump to conclusions, drag up every mistake their partner has ever made, and even the ones they’ll make in the future! Sound familiar? Yeah, I’m guilty of this one too. But as I said earlier, marriage is a team sport!
Hindsight is always 20/20, but we have to take a step back in the present instead of later and realize that our partner really does have our best interests at heart and decisions are made with love, not malice or harm.
Don’t neglect self-care
When we fly on an airplane, the stewardess always gives the speech about oxygen masks, and how to put yours on first before helping others. You can’t help anyone else if you’re not taking care of yourself first, right? Relationships work the same way!
You need to take care of yourself so you can bring your best self into the relationship. Marriage is a team sport, but that does not mean either of you neglect yourselves.
Self care can be taking time for yourself. Nathan takes a couple of hours every morning before going to bed to play video games and whatever else keeps him entertained. That is his time to do as he pleases, and in the evening is when we prioritize our time together. My time is when he is at work to either work myself, go out with friends, or simply indulge in my own hobbies.
These habits of healthy couples have made a huge difference in my marriage to Nathan. Marriage isn’t easy, but the journey has been totally worth it! Because Nathan and I get to work together to not only be the best versions of ourselves, but be the best couple together too. It is a pretty amazing thing, in my opinion.
Do you practice these habits of healthy couples in your own relationship? Or do you have another that isn’t on the list? Let me know in the comments! What do you think of these habits of healthy couples? See my other tips on married life.