Every day I wake up and choose to be in a relationship; it's a conscious decision that includes committing to keeping the love alive. My decision to be engaged is a choice. It takes work, even flexibility, to cultivate and preserve happiness. Real love isn't just a euphoric, spontaneous feeling––it's a deliberate choice––a plan to love each other for better and worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health.
After five years, I am more in love than ever and confident that I chose the right mate for me. How do I know this? I enjoy his companionship, our healthy debates, and our commitment to our family. We are perfectly imperfect, but happy nonetheless. Above all things, we understand our love is bigger than us. Not only does it affect us as individuals, but it also affects our future children, our family, our friends, and our community. For those reasons, we must have a shared vision of success.
Here are seven habits of happy couples that I deem necessary for the vitality of relationships.
Be Honest About Your Feelings, Be Honest With Your Mate
Vulnerability is the pinnacle of any relationship. Emotional vulnerability is the willingness to acknowledge your emotions, especially the painful ones. It can help you resolve issues and get what you need from your relationship. Executive dating coach, Connell Barrett, says speaking honestly about your emotions is a crucial part of forging a healthy, long-lasting bond with your partner.
Become a Better Listener to Your Partner
I cannot stress enough the importance of listening to your partner. Being an active listener in a relationship means that you recognize that the conversation is more about your partner than about you. It allows you to focus entirely on the emotions and experiences of your partner. Rather than planning out how you should respond or what you want to say next, you can remain fully open and engaged. When your partner feels heard, they feel appreciated.
Establish Common Hobbies
Establish common hobbies and interests to fortify your relationship. Whether it's photography, sports, cooking, or just simply shopping, it can decrease conflict and strengthen the idea that you and your partner are a team. However, if husbands and wives have a firm grasp of their roles as partners, lovers, or parents, but fail to understand what it means to be friends, they are missing out on a key component of their relationship. This does not mean you have to do everything together; you should still have your interests to preserve and maintain your own identity.
Spoil Each Other
It shouldn't take a birthday or holiday to do something special for your partner. Spoiling each other keeps things interesting, as well as makes room for spontaneity. Spoiling someone isn't just about money or material things, it also includes giving attention and affection. Surprise them on a weekday with their favorite things; dinner and a movie is always a good idea.
Be Physically Affectionate Whenever Possible
I start each morning by waking my partner with a kiss. It's my way of staying connected and embracing intimacy. Even though he's asleep, the love is still real. Clinical sexologist Charley Ferrer says, "Couples should take five minutes each morning and each night to simply hold each other. This is a wonderful way to start and end your day. Though you may give a hug before leaving for work or hug your partner before falling asleep, this is a focused moment to consciously share with your partner." While sex is important, two lovers can engage in foreplay, knowing how each other prefers to be touched. Intimacy can help you feel more loved and less alone.
Extend Grace to Your Partner
Ahhh, let me say this louder for the people in the back: EXTEND GRACE TO YOUR PARTNER. I'm not talking about forgiving them for their indiscretions, but rather the things like being late - for the first or second time - not washing the dishes, or not calling when they got to their destination. Nobody's perfect, and people mess up, even with the most minuscule of things. When you refuse to forgive, it will poison your thoughts, your heart, and your relationship.
Express Gratitude, and Then Do It Again
Gratitude plays a big part in the happiness of a union. You can express sincere gratitude for everything from dinner, cleaning of the house, to them remembering to wash your clothes on 'delicate'. Gratitude can help relationships thrive by promoting a cycle of generosity. That is, one partner's gratitude can prompt both partners to think and act in ways that convey gratitude to each other and promote commitment to their relationship. When we express ourselves with passion, it is always magical and filled with love.
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