Five things super-happy couples do every day

By Ty Wenger:

The Lord knows this is not the sort of thing guys brag about. But I have a ridiculously happy relationship with my significant other.

It hasn’t always been this way. In fact, I’m not ashamed to admit that our current bliss is the result of almost a year of counseling, a desperate effort undertaken several years ago, when we appeared destined for doom. What we learned then is something all happy couples eventually discover: A good relationship is a bit like a pet boa constrictor: either you feed it every day or bad things happen.

We asked happy couples to tell us about relationship-strengthening solutions they’ve developed. Try your hand at incorporating a few into your daily life, and maybe you can be as ridiculously, embarrassingly, revoltingly happy in your relationship as I am.

Daily Habit #1: Talk to Each Other

Happily married couples typically say their relationships work better when they can sit down and gab one-on-one. But who’s got time for that? Actually, anybody who sleeps at night, if you follow the lead of Julie and Thom and their nightly visits to their “igloo.”

“It all started one winter night years ago, when Julie had had a really bad day,” says Thom, 33, a marketing director in Columbus, Ohio. “We were huddled under the covers of our bed, and Julie was describing how all the people who made her day miserable were ‘bad polar bears’ and how she didn’t want any of the bad polar bears coming into the bedroom and how the bed was our refuge from them. You realize how embarrassing it is to admit this, right? Anyway, that’s when we started calling the bed the igloo.”

“The igloo is a place to retreat to,” says Julie, 31. “It’s our little sanctuary; only nice things happen in the igloo.”

Eventually Julie and Thom began holding a powwow in the igloo at the end of every day, making a nightly excursion that Julie says has become a vital part of their five-year relationship.

“It’s funny, because I always thought that when you lived with somebody, you’d automatically know everything that was going on,” she says. “But we find that if we don’t take that time to connect with each other, it’s really easy for life to get in the way. The igloo offers one of the few times in the day where there’s not a whole heck of a lot else going on, so you’re able to focus on each other in a deeper way.”

 

Daily Habit #2: Flirt

Most couples realize that getting intimate every night isn’t possible, let alone a worthy goal. Indeed, a 1994 University of Chicago survey of Americans’ physical intimacy habits found that only about a third of adults have physical intimacy more than once a week.

That doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t at least talk sensually every day, and that’s the approach that Ed and Stephanie have taken in the more than six years they’ve been together.

“It’s funny,” says Ed, a 33-year-old San Francisco cab driver, “Because we know plenty of couples who fight a lot, about how often they have physical intimacy. The wife’s upset because all he ever wants to do is get intimate. But this has never really been a problem with us, and I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we’re always talking sensually to each other.”

“Absolutely,” says Stephanie, a 32-year-old massage therapist. “We’re always complimenting each other, tossing out fantasies, telling each other we’re appealing. He gets to feel like he can have sensual feelings, and I feel like I don’t have to have physical intimacy all the time to appear attractive.

“Let’s put it this way: The way I see it, physical intimacy is like chocolate cake. After five days of eating chocolate cake, even chocolate cake doesn’t taste that great.”

“Right,” Ed says, “but after five days of talking about chocolate cake, that cake tastes really good.”

 

Daily Habit #3: Get Stupid Together

“Honestly, I think we just need to be dumb for a while,” says Bob, 37, a shoe designer for Reebok in Boston. “We’re both very into our careers. And when you’re at work, with any job there’s going to be a certain amount of professional stress. You like to come home sometimes and, for an hour or whatever, kick back and relax.”

Or as Angie, 36, a marketing executive, says, “Life is serious enough, isn’t it? Sometimes you need to do something stupid. And if you can’t be stupid with your husband, who can you be stupid with?”

 

Daily Habit #4: Declare Your Independence

Make a habit of getting away from each other. The point, naturally, is not to make space for each other in that I-can’t-wait-to-get-away-from-you sort of way, but to pursue your own hobbies and interests.

 

Daily Habit #5: Share a Spiritual Moment

In another University of Chicago survey, this one of married couples, 75 percent of the Americans who pray with their spouses reported that their marriages are very happy (compared to 57 percent of those who don’t). Those who pray together are also more likely to say they respect each other and discuss their relationship together.

Whether they’re talking about a simple grace at dinnertime or some soul-searching meditation, couples routinely say that a shared spiritual life helps keep them close.

“We have been married for seven years, but praying together is something we didn’t start doing until about a year ago,” says Doug, a 32-year-old Salt Lake City biochemist. “In the past, whenever we faced big decisions, we’d have discussion after discussion about them, but we’d never really come to a resolution.”

“I soon found that praying together brings out a real sense of selflessness and humility,” Doug says. “When you’re praying for each other, not yourself, you’re focused together and speaking from the heart on a whole different level. I would never have predicted this for us, but it really works.”

“As bad as any problem may seem at that moment,” agrees Beth, “prayer always helps us see beyond it. When we pray (even just a few minutes a day), it brings another level of honesty to our conversations. I think it’s the most intimate thing you can do with another person.”

Now they pray together every night, once the “urchins” are in bed, which puts them in the company of the 32 percent of American married couples who say they pray together regularly. It also puts them in the company of Julie and Thom, when the other couple isn’t holed up in their igloo, of course.

“I think that most marriages require a ton of faith,” Julie sums up. “You’ve got to believe that somehow the two of you are going to make it through things. You’ve got to believe that you’re being blessed with this person.”

 

One comment


  • Edie Hollowy

    Helpful indeed

    February 25, 2015

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