Characteristics of Happy Couples
Characteristics of Happy Couples
In a good relationship the commitment to all three aspects of it (oneself, one's partner, and the relationship) are strong. Conscious efforts can improve all three.
Commitment To The Relationship
They focus on being a couple. They spend time alone as a couple, on a regular basis. All the other aspects of a healthy relationship are dependent on this time together. They do not view their relationship as dependent on other relationships, such as being the kids' mom and dad. They view their relationship as unique and special, in its own right.
To improve? Schedule, schedule, schedule. Time alone will just not happen in many busy lives. Some do best with 30 minutes an evening. Others need a block of time on the weekend. Let other people (i.e. the kids) know that this is your time. Turn off the phone. Plan so the kids have food and entertainment.
Discuss yourself, your partner, and the relationship. Continually update and revise your vision of your lives together. Catch up on the details of one another's lives outside the relationship. Talk about your childhood, tell your partner about significant events in your past, be they happy or sad, and how they affect you today. Discuss your feelings, emotions, and frustrations honestly but tactfully.
They share a common vision that they change together. Good relationships form when the partners share common values, interests, and goals in life. But, over the course of a life together, many things change. Rather than pursuing completely individual paths to change and "drift apart", good couples pursue change together. They negotiate their differing needs and opinions to arrive at a common, but updated vision.
To Improve? Make a list. List all the aspects of your lives together and where you hope to be in 5 years, 10 years, and beyond. They list is up to you, but money the most common reason for conflict in a relationship and should certainly be on the list. Other tangibles to discuss are children, where you will live, how you divide up work inside and outside the home. In the course of nailing down the tangibles the values and priorities will come into play. Some couples and families even write a mission statement.
They share power equally and show signs of caring In good relationships one partner does not dominate the other. There is a true give and take in making decisions, and not a facade of equality. Gestures of caring are frequent.
To improve? Judging equality in one's own relationship is inherently biased. Studies have shown most couples will state that they are equals in their relationship, but objective criteria will show the man has more control. Partner's satisfaction was tied more closely to the outside observer's assessment, rather than their own perceptions. Try to be objective and honest about this. Negotiate and change, if needed.
Gestures of caring are a bit easier. Small gifts, physical affection, favors for the partner's personal goals, and compliments all go a long way. Keep a log of what you have done for your partner, make goals, note missed opportunities to say or do something nice and resolve to change it. (but do NOT keep a log of what they have done for you). In a busy life, you will be surprised how long you go without doing these types of things, unless you make a conscious effort.
They Resolve Conflict in Healthy Ways They do not deny or suppress differences. They negotiate. They do not belittle one another. They look for win-win solutions. They are honest with one another, but gentle.
To improve? Don't use the the word "you" in discussing frustrations, use the word "I". Say what the behavior makes you feel, how it impacts you, without blaming your partner.
Committment to Herself
Women in healthy relationships have their own lives and identities aside from the relationship. Intimacy is not isolating. They have friends, activities, and interests outside the relationship. Being in the couple adds to their lives, but is not their lives. They do not try to be close to their partner at all times. They do not share every detail of their lives past or present with their partner. They have privacy.
To Improve? Many women have trouble with this aspect. Men have a tradition of a night out with the boys. Women, especially working women with children, have so many duties and responsibilities that they don't feel they have time. Women are more conditioned to see their lives in terms of their relationships, especially their spouse or partner. Lesbian women tend to have trouble because they see each other as one another's total support system.
Improvement here is tied to other aspects. Re-distribute responsibilities so that you have time carved out to pursue your own interests and friendships. Once you have the time, plan to use it.
Commitment to Her Partner
She takes an interest in his life outside the relationship. She has positive regard for his characteristics. She tolerates non-destructive faults. She accepts that there will be short periods of falling out of love, annoyance, or trouble with him. She respects him. She treats him as he wishes to be treated, not as she would like someone to treat her.
To improve? Finding out what your partner's work or outside life is like is something to be done during your time alone. Finding out how he wants to be treated is part of this too. Be open with one another, love causes many changes, it does not make you psychic.
He is annoying the crap out of you. Think to yourself, will this matter in a year? If the answer is 'no' forget about it. If that doesn't work, can you change how you view it? Many couple hit hard times when the very characteristics that attracted, now infuriate them. Remember who you fell in love with. Is he pudgy, goofy, and scatterbrained? Or is he the hunky, zany, and spontaneous guy that got your attention at a party so many years ago. Even if it has nothing to do with what is annoying you, remember who you fell in love with.
When behavior can't be overlooked, back to alone time and negotiate. Spell out exactly what displeases you and what you would like in its place. Don't make it a personal attack. Tell your partner how it affects you. Be willing to change some things too, if he counters.