Turn on the television or read the news, and all you hear are the negatives about relationships. This celebrity is leaving that one; this person cheated with that person.
If the recent studies and articles are to be believed, more and more couples are delaying divorce because of the economy, prompting hundreds of tips from reporters and bloggers on how to live with your estranged spouse.
Is anyone happy in their relationship? In a word, yes. There are many couples that are happy being together. But the headline, “thousands of couples achieve happiness” doesn’t have the same ring as “divorce rates are climbing.”
So, how are these couples staying happy through all the normal peaks and valleys of marriage, coupled with today’s economic challenges? Are they just lucky? Is their mantra the proverbial “Yes, dear” with an eye roll? How do they make relationships last?
Well, after surveying 500 men and women on my Facebook page, the answers and secrets are crystal clear.
1. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Every therapist, counselor, and relationship self-help book says the same thing, “you have to communicate.”
Merriam-Webster defines “communication” as “the successful conveying or sharing of ideas and feelings.” Sorry, but this definition of communication is largely misunderstood because, to many people, it means talking to your spouse so that they know you are right.
In successful, happy relationships, people listen and empathize. They don’t necessarily agree, but they do make the effort to really hear the information, and then see it from their significant other’s point of view.
2. Go to bed angry sometimes.
The golden rule is to never go to bed angry. But, sometimes things cannot be worked out without a brief break. You both might need time to consider things, evaluate, and think.
So, as long as the discussion hasn’t caused someone to scream and storm out the door, going to bed without completely working out a situation might allow for perspective overnight and a more connected, intelligent conversation in the morning.
3. Watch what you say.
In today’s social media-driven world, words and statements fly without care.
Couples driven to stay happy and connected are careful with what they say, not only to each other but also about each other. Often, relationships can be defined by what you say about your partner to others when they are not in the room.
4. Forget date nights. It’s all about hotel sex.
Date nights are a great attempt to rekindle the romance. But, after working all week, diapers, and homework assistance, it might not be feasible to downshift over a couple of hours at dinner.
A better solution is hotel sex. No more, “Shhhhh! The kids!” “Are they asleep yet?” Or the inevitable knock at the door. Want happiness? Get a trusted overnight sitter and head out for an adult night. Get a meal and then head back to the hotel for dessert.
Low on funds due to the economic climate? Nothing wrong with a motel among consenting adults. Use your imagination and unplug from parenting for a bit.
5. Little things count.
Small actions can take many forms, such as calling for no reason, offering to help clean a house, love letters, lipstick notes on the mirror, pulling out a chair, or washing a car. It is all rooted back into the old maxim, “it’s the thought that counts.”
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Nothing says indifference more than texting away on your phone when your significant other is talking. Keep the connection and look them in the eye when they are speaking. It speaks to your level of engagement with them, which is interpreted as their level of importance to you.
For men, there have been some specific suggestions offered from thousands of women stating that the following will make them happy:
- Listen to her. Don’t solve her problems.
- Give up the remote.
- Recognize that she is a woman and not just a wife or mother.
For women, these will make your man more satisfied:
- If you want something, ask for it. He can’t read your mind.
- Recognize that people show their love in different ways.
- Compliment his successes. Your pride in him and recognition are really important.
- Know that he is really trying to make you happy.
Charles J. Orlando is a YourTango Expert and relationship expert best known as the author of the acclaimed relationship book series The Problem with Women… is Men.