Six Things Happy Couples Do Differently than the Rest (Based on Research)
In NLP, we model ourselves after people who have already achieved what we want.
If you want to lose weight, go to someone who lost weight successfully and learn what they did.
If you want to overcome a habit, find someone who overcame that very habit.
Modeling after success removes speculation and gives you a direct path to results. Of course, there is more than one way to accomplish most things. Yet, if you model yourself after people who’ve already succeeded, then at least you avoid all the hot air.
And so it goes: If you want a happy romantic relationship, learn from happy couples.
It amazes me how many couples are NOT happy. Still, I know a few who are, including Jake and Hannah Eagle, developers of the best online relationship program I know of.
I recently asked Jake what happy couples do differently, according to his experience as a husband and psychotherapist. I’ve also added in my own lessons learned and a significant amount of objective research. So, here are the…
Six Things Happy Couples Do Differently Than the Rest
Most of these ideas are simple. All of them are worth it.
1. They take extra time to feel each other.
Quick hug. Auto-peck on the cheek. Out the door!
This may seem normal, but happy couples take time to feel each other’s body a lot more than that.
Real hugs. Kissing in which you actually feel the impression of lips give the extra ounce of connection that bonds two people together.
The experts at HelpGuide remind us of this with their number one relationship tip: Connect. Connecting physically boosts oxytocin, the hormone that governs human bonding.
According to at least one survey reported by the Guardian, couples were happiest when they slept in the nude together.
The human need for variety will KILL your long-term relationship if it isn’t satisfied. How do you keep things interesting with someone you’ve known for years?
Surprise them! No, don’t buy yourself a new car to surprise your spouse. The best surprises are ones that involve you being thoughtful. Fortunately, the little things count. For example:
• Saying I love you out of the blue.
• Surprise gifts and inexpensive outings.
• Doing the other’s chores around the house.
• Volunteering a massage.
It’s the little things! Each one adds a spice to recipe in your relationship. If you neglect this one, the surprise you get one day might not be pleasant.
3. When things go wrong, they look at themselves first (mostly).
Healthy couples are great at holding each other accountable. This is possible for one important reason: Each person also holds SELF accountable first. Try holding an equal partner accountable consistently while never taking responsibility for yourself.
This sad strategy only leads to mutual resentment and defensiveness.
If you want the right to hold someone else accountable, then be willing to expect the same of yourself. The respect you deserve comes from this place of personal maturity.
4. Happy couples learn to communicate with “easy” sophistication (it is shockingly easy).
A whole new level of sophisticated communication skills is NOT DIFFICULT to learn and apply. For example, in NLP we know that a majority of communication happens through three of the five senses. We communicate in pictures, sounds and feelings.
Most people have a preference for one of these modes of communication. Love is a form of communication. Therefore, it is best sent in the way your partner prefers to receive it. So simple!
Visual lovers like visual evidence of love (things they can see): gifts, dressing up nice and going out, a clean kitchen, seeing you do something for them.
Auditory lovers like to hear kind, loving expressions (and in a kind, loving tone).
Feeling oriented lovers like to touch: Hugs, closeness, holding hands, kissing, etc…
Communicating love outside your partner’s modality may not even count (for your partner). If you are a visual lover, for example, a hug doesn’t mean as much as seeing evidence. In fact, you may feel smothered by constant clinging.
Let your partner see, hear or feel you. If you don’t know your partner’s preference, ask!
5. Happy couples are friends first.
Good marriage is friendship BEFORE it is family. Why? Because, on average, people enjoy friends more than family.
The evidence for this is pretty impressive. A survey done via the Mappiness App collected more than 3 million responses in its real time happiness survey. Results clearly showed that participants were far happier when in the company of friends than with family. Friends even made people happier than spouses and didn’t even compare to “other family.”
Among families of origin, people are often used to contradicting each other, being annoyed, rolling their eyes, bickering, sneaking around and feeling oppressed. It’s the truth. Families are often cauldrons of misery.
Your primary relationship or marriage does not have to be like this if you are friends first. Good friends are less likely to treat each other with disrespect. If you are friends, you are more likely to respect boundaries.
The fatal mistake so many couples make is diving into a young relationship too deeply, too quickly. When you do this, you bypass the opportunity to form a friendship and instantly create another family member.
For more on the essential stages of romantic relationships, click here.
6. Gently, gently.
Gentleness can transform your relationship. In fact, the Gottman Institute, a leader in marriage research, claims that being gentle is the number one factor in determining the success of your relationship.
Are you gentle with your spouse? If not, rest assured you are adding to the hurt and resentment. Hurt and resentment do not simply vanish without reconciliation. One day, resentment will rear its ugly head.
Interestingly, many of us confuse gentleness with indulgence. We think that if we are kind, we have to put up with rudeness, mistreatment, laziness, etc…
You can be gentle and STILL REQUIRE respect, hold people accountable and deliver consequences. In fact, being gentle is a far more effective way of demanding respect.
Are you committed to happiness or unhappiness?
The brazen truth is that your subconscious mind is not as committed to your happiness as you are. It may be harboring reasons – known as psychological attachments – for clinging to familiar misery.
To implement the principles above, you may need to discover and root out your tendencies toward self-sabotage. This removes the subconscious tendency to accept what is painfully familiar.
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Mike Bundrant is author of the e-book, Your Achiiles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage. Watch this free video to learn more:
Learn more about this book here.
Bundrant, M. (2013). Six Things Happy Couples Do Differently than the Rest (Based on Research). Psych Central. Retrieved on July 28, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/nlp/2013/12/six-things-happy-couples-do-differently-than-the-rest-based-on-research/