Insights from a marriage counselor who has seen it all.
By Shlomo Slatkin
Last updated on Nov 21, 2023
Photo: AleksandarGeorgiev | Canva
Happiness in a relationship takes much more than luck. It takes a conscious daily effort to put healthy relationship habits into practice.
Sounds simple, but that alone is vital marriage counseling advice. Of course, no couple is perfect and everyone has a bad day. But at the core of their shared lives is a commitment to keep their relationship strong. So, while they may make these mistakes every once in a while, they know that doing their best to avoid them is key to being happy together.
Here are 11 things happy couples try their hardest to avoid
1. They don’t complain about their relationship with their friends or family.
Happy couples know it’s best not to involve others in their relationship. They talk directly to each other if an issue arises instead of consulting others who often may provide negative feedback that could hurt the relationship.
There’s nothing wrong with healthy girl or guy time, but don’t use it as an opportunity to complain about your spouse. If you don’t apply this step, there will be too much negativity in your marriage.
2. They don’t compare themselves to others.
Happy couples accept and love each other as is. They know that comparing to others is unrealistic (and unfair) and will leave them insecure about their marriage.
If you do spend time with other couples and see better qualities in another spouse, stay confident and don’t second-guess your choice. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side — even if it looks like it is.
3. They don’t play the victim.
Happy couples take responsibility for their feelings and their role in the relationship. They don’t blame each other for their problems.
They ask for what they need instead of wallowing in self-pity or blaming their spouse for their situation.
4. They don’t take themselves too seriously.
Happy couples know happiness and fun. They “date” regularly and laugh a lot.
Even when life throws you a curveball and things are extremely stressful, keep things light and fun.
5. They don’t criticize.
They look for the good in each other, and when they’re upset, they learn how to ask for their needs sensitively. Happy couples know that criticism only tears the other down and creates a rupture in their relationship.
If your spouse does something you don’t like, pay attention to why it’s bothering you and learn how to talk about it safely.
6. They don’t ignore their finances.
Happy couples know that financial stress puts pressure on a marriage. They stay on top of their money by communicating their financial goals so they can make responsible decisions for their future together.
If money is a topic you would rather not discuss, know that avoiding it will make money matters worse.
7. They don’t try to read minds.
You already know what people say about someone who assumes. Happy couples know how to communicate so that they’re aware of each other’s needs and feelings.
No matter how connected they feel, they don’t expect their spouse to know what they want or how they feel. They spell it out clearly.
If you’re not getting the attention you need, tell your partner.
8. They don’t overshare.
Happy couples know that sharing their frustrations is how to meet their needs and achieve greater connection.
They are intentional about when they share and ask their spouse if it is a good time instead of catching them off-guard, unleashing their upset, and fueling the fire of more conflict.
If you have something to get off your chest first ask, “I’d like to share something with you. Is now a good time?”
9. They don’t obsess over their roles.
Even if they have stereotypical gender roles in their relationship, happy couples are flexible and can do necessary tasks immediately — even if it’s not their forté.
So, even if your wife is typically the one to get dinner on the table if she can’t tonight, you can easily step in without a fuss and relieve her of the responsibility.
10. They don’t pester each other.
Happy couples encourage each other instead of pressuring. They find ways to support each other, and the support is a natural motivator as opposed to pestering, which often backfires.
If your husband is out of work instead of pestering him to go to job interviews, try to raise his morale with your love and support, even if it seems scary. Your genuine encouragement and trust in him will motivate him to move forward.
11. They don’t pay attention to Hollywood’s portrayal of marriage.
Happy couples give no credence to the stereotypical putdowns of husbands and wives often featured in pop culture. They love each other and don’t belittle, disrespect, or poke fun at each other as they see on TV or film.
If you’re not already aware of how common it is to treat marriage as a punchline, begin to notice the subtle (and not so subtle) messages about marriage you encounter daily.
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Shlomo Slatkin is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Certified Imago Relationship Therapist (Advanced Clinician), and an ordained Rabbi.
This article was originally published at The Marriage Restoration Project Blog. Reprinted with permission from the author.