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Science Says That Happy Couples Do The Following 7 Things

Here's what data and research reveal can keep your relationship thriving.

Love & Relationships

Something that my late father and I have in common is we dig research and data. Back when he was alive, a lot of our email exchanges consisted of sharing random "Did you know?" info back and forth; the kind of stuff that probably only Jeopardy contestants would even remotely care about. Well, since a lot of my life consists of dealing with romantic relationships, I really enjoy reading scientific research that specifically relates to couples. Stuff that might seem like automatic common sense to some yet there is more than mere opinions to back the resolves up.

Today, let's tackle what keeps some people happier in their relationships than others. If after reading this, you can relate, please share your thoughts in the comments. If you never considered some of these things before, why not apply them ASAP? Love, on its own, is a beautiful thing. Oh, but when you're in love and happy in your relationship most of the time—life really doesn't get much better than that.

1. They Don’t Do a Lot of Texting (to Each Other)

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There is literally only one person who has my cell number. Everyone else has my landline. A part of the reason is because I don't like the "I should have immediate access to you" impression that cell phones tend to give other folks. Plus, I write for a living. Texting all day long is one of the last things that I want to do. Meanwhile, it kind of amazes me how many married people prefer to text over talking over the phone. I don't mean simple stuff like, "Can you pick up some juice on the way home?" or "I'll be home at 7" kind of texts. I mean they will discuss serious issues, sometimes even have drag out fights that way.

There is one couple I know, in particular, who does it all of the time. When I encourage them to not only not text but to wait until they are face-to-face before getting all deep, they just blow the recommendation off. Yet—surprise, surprise—they rarely get matters resolved (definitely not in a timely fashion) and it's all because words are choppy and tone is left out when they text. When it comes to truly communicating with each other, what they think is a convenient method, actually…isn't.

That's why it comes as absolutely no surprise to me that research says that something happy couples have in common is they aren't big on the whole texting thing. You can click here to read the particulars, yet the gist is that women are not big on apologies over text and men think that doing a lot of texting is a sign of a relationship being a lower quality one. Just something to ponder if you and yours do more texting than actual talking.

2. They’re BFFs

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Any couple who's worked with me before knows that I am a huge fan and advocate of husbands and wives being each other's best friend (check out "Are You Sure You're Actually FRIENDS With Your Spouse?"). There are two main reasons why. For one thing, ask any couple who has been together for more than five years and they're probably going to vouch for the fact that being "in like" is what will get you through the tough times when you don't feel quite like you're "in love". Not only that but people who are friends with one another tend to have a greater sense of loyalty and a desire to want to work issues—whatever the issues they may be—out. Plus, I'm pretty word-particular and "best" means of highest quality, standing and degree. How do you pledge to share your entire life with someone and they not fit that bill?

I'm not alone in this line of thinking. There are studies which support that couples who call their partner their best friend are twice as satisfied in their marriage as couples who don't. So, while some of you might have read what I said, rolled your eyes and was like, "Whatever. So-and-so is always gonna be my best friend"—one, so someone actually has a higher standing in your life than your own spouse? And two, science provides solid evidence for you to consider rethinking your stance. For the ultimate sake of your relationship.

3. They Have Sex (at Least) Once a Week

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Whenever I have a conversation with church folks about the purpose of sex and the first thing they say is procreation, I'm the first to be like, "Yeah…naw." If you are a Bible follower, you can go to Genesis 2 and peep that Adam and the Woman (her name in the Garden of Eden) were given sexual instructions before leaving the Garden…even though kids didn't come until later (in Genesis 3). My point? Sex is about cultivating oneness and celebrating the love you and your partner have for one another, first and foremost. And why would you want to do that as little as possible (what in the world?!). As far as what science has to say about it, the current conclusion is the happiest couples have sex no less than once a week. And listen, when you stop to think about the fact that there are 168 hours in a week and that it takes roughly 30 minutes for a man and woman to orgasm together, how hard is it to make the time to strengthen your physical and emotional bond for the sake of your relationship's ultimate health and well-being? Real talk.

4. They Are Emotionally Close with One Another

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I've shared in articles for this platform before that something I'm not big on using, when I'm talking about long-term relationships, is the word "vulnerable". Again, because I'm word-particular, I know that it means "capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon" and "open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.".

To me, your significant other should be your very safe space, so if coming to them with your thoughts, feelings and fears has you believing that you're capable of being wounded by them or that you'll constantly be open to attack or criticism, you're in a really unhealthy situation. So, what do I think couples should be? Dependent. Dependent is awesome word because it means "relying on someone or something else for aid, support, etc." and y'all really—if you can't rely on your partner for aid and support, who can you rely on? Geeze.

Unfortunately, in the science and research world, dependence is used in an extreme sense (like being too needy or clingy). To me, that seems more like codependence or obsession. Anyway, the term they prefer to use is emotional closeness. In an article that I read on the topic, a clinical psychologist defined it as being the act of giving and taking so that you and your partner both feel fulfilled. Whichever term you choose to go with, the bottom line is emotionally relying on your partner while they rely on you is another key to being in a happy relationship. Because of all of the people in the world who you should be able to trust your feelings with, hands down, it should be them.

5. They’ve Got Similar Financial Values

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Lawd. This one right here really can't be emphasized enough. When I wrote the article, "Please Be Clear On These 7 Things Before Getting Engaged" earlier this year, one of the points in it was how important it is for long-term couples to discuss their thoughts on money. It's no secret that two of the biggest causes of divorce, to this day, continue to be related to sexual incompatibility and financial drama. That's why it came as absolutely no surprise to me when I read that 1) far too many couples pick their financial opposite and 2) that leads to nothing but trouble once they do start to mesh their lives together. In fact, in an article on Live Science's website entitled, "Tightwads and Spendthrifts Attract, Marry, Fight", it stated that, unfortunately, far too many couples take on the "opposites attract" mentality when it comes to finances, only to get together and stay in constant conflict because their financial values absolutely do not coincide.

None of us can survive without money and relationships are a partnership. If you and yours don't see eye to eye when it comes to spending, saving and financially planning, it's gonna be really hard to stay together, let alone be happy. There is plenty of scientific data to prove it.

6. They THINK More than They FEEL

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I can't remember which Black male manosphere podcaster said it (I listen to quite a few of 'em) yet this pearl of wisdom is something that I strive to apply to my life on the regular these days.

He said, "The moment you start to substitute 'I think' for 'I feel', your world will be a whole lot better." He's right. As much as folks—and by folks, I specifically mean us ladies as it relates to this topic—like to rely on feelings so much of the time, the reality is that feelings can be pretty fickle. I mean, even the Bible says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9-10—NKJV) And what is the heart? One definitely is the center of our emotions. The Bible warns that the center of our emotions can deceive—mislead, delude, falsely persuade—us. That's why I'm not big on the whole "follow your heart" thing. We've got a brain and common sense for a reason. It's far best to follow that.

Science agrees. There's an anthropologist by the name of Helen Fisher who once said that, when it comes to romantic relationships, our brains are broken up into three systems. There's lust (our libido). There's romantic attraction (romantic love). Then there's attachment (having a deep union with someone else). Well, when couples are not as reliant on lust and instead choose to focus their time, effort and energy on cultivating their attachment to their partner, their level of empathy increases, they are better at controlling their emotions and they are better able to maintain positive thoughts about their partner too. In short, they are happier and more fulfilled.

7. They Celebrate Each Other. As Much As Possible.

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Something that's basically Parenting 101 is, when we're trying to get our children to learn something new and they do, we make sure to make a pretty big deal about it. We celebrate them as a form of inspiration and encouragement, right? Unfortunately, this is something that far too many of us lose sight of when it comes to nurturing our adult-level relationships. It's like, rather than becoming our partner's biggest fan, we instead turn into their biggest critic—always judging, picking (to the point of nitpicking) and criticizing. No one wants to be around that kind of individual and so, after a while, even if our partner stays with us, walls develop. And yeah, that ain't good.

One more study that I came across stated that when two people who are in a relationship act like they are just as excited for their partner's triumphs and achievements as their own, they find themselves to be way more satisfied with each other in the long run. I really can't think of a better place to end this article. Praise your partner. Cheer them on. Honor their achievements. Encourage reciprocity in this area. When you know that the one you love most is the most thrilled for your progress, how can you not want to stay in their space? For real, for real.

Join our xoTribe, an exclusive community dedicated to YOU and your stories and all things xoNecole. Be a part of a growing community of women from all over the world who come together to uplift, inspire, and inform each other on all things related to the glow up.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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