We all strive for happiness within our relationships. I mean, if our relationships are no longer fulfilling all of our needs, they’re probably dead in the water.
But how do we know we’re truly in love? Yes, you should be finding ways to compromise so that you’re both getting something out of the relationship, but it can be difficult giving up things or behaviors that make you happy. It turns out true love is more about selflessness – doing things without even having to be asked.
And so the following sex and dating experts have come up with a list of things that the world’s happiest couples are consistently doing:
1. Give your partner a surprise card
“Giving your partner a card that says ‘Thinking of you’ or ‘Thank you for all you do’ is such a sweet gesture. It will make him or her feel special and it’s a great reminder to you as well of all you have to be grateful for. An added fun touch would be to leave the card somewhere your loved one will happen on it. My husband loves to leave cards for me in the refrigerator. I often leave his cards under his pillow.”
– Susan Pease Gadoua, marriage therapist and the co-author of The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists, and Rebels.
2. Check in with your partner as often as you can
“Whether it’s a ‘hello’ text or call to ask, ‘How did it go?’ the happiest couples reach out. They call to say, ‘I’m running late,’ or ‘We just landed,’ or ‘Do you need me to stop at the store on my way home?’ The message: I’m thinking of you. The result: A feeling of being connected, being a key part of each other’s lives.”
― Winifred M. Reilly, marriage and family therapist and author of It Takes One to Tango.
3. Compliment your partner
“This doesn’t have to be a lovey-dovey compliment about being the best wife in the world, but even an offhand remark recognizing someone’s contribution, like ‘great dinner!’ Although some couples do well without positive feedback, the majority of people like at least a little bit of verbal recognition for their contribution, and happy couples are free with positive feedback.”
― Samantha Rodman, psychologist, and dating coach.
4. Pencil a sex date into your diary
“Many couples think scheduling sex is a sign of trouble. They want sex to be spontaneous and organic. In an ideal world, that would be great. But life gets in the way, and unless couples are intentional about having sex, it is often one of the first things to go by the wayside. Couples who carve out designated time for sex intuitively understand the importance and value of sex. They seem to appreciate that sex has psychological and physical benefits. Somehow, they just get it.
― Kimberly Resnick Anderson, sex therapist.
5. Always remember to say hello and goodbye
Hellos and goodbyes are really important every day, so never leave the house without looking your partner in the eyes and hugging them goodbye. When you come home, rather than going to your children or pets first, go straight to your partner and gaze into their eyes and hug them.”
“This sets a positive tone for the whole day when you’re apart, and for the evening when you are back together,” ― Melissa Ferrari Relationship expert
6. Surprise your partner with their favorite kind of food
“We all know that food is nurturing and helps people feel connected. But when you go out of your way to bring home a special food you know they will love, it’s a wonderful way to put ‘I love you’ into action. If the favorite food is a meal that you make — rather than, say, a pint of Haagen Dazs — you’ll undoubtedly get even more points.”
― Susan Pease Gadoua
When you are in a long-term relationship, it’s very easy to fear that the spark you once had will eventually disappear. Watch the video below to find out how you can show your partner that despite any worries you might have, you would still choose them all over again.
7. Keep the sexual energy flowing
“These couples keep sexual energy in the mix throughout their lives together, creating anticipation by sexting with each other, keeping an ongoing sexual conversation and a doing a quick make-out here and there ― even when there isn’t enough time to do the deed!”
―Danielle Harel, sex expert and author of Making Love Real
8. Always be grateful and acknowledge the effort your partner has made
“Despite the mundanity and complacency that can develop within a long-term partnership, a sure way to keep the fire alive and burning brightly is to watch your partner beam when you regularly notice and point out their contributions to your life. People want to be reminded they are of value to you, and secure couples understand that this should be frequent. Although you may assume your love to be understood, in reality, acknowledging your partner’s efforts and contributions consistently builds an even deeper connection.”
― Kari Carroll, couples therapist.
9. Be generous toward your partner
“Generosity is something freely given as a gift, with nothing expected in return. When a relationship feels secure, it is easy to want to offer more than your fair share of tasks or thoughtful gestures to show your love for your partner. Whether moving their clothes to the dryer for them or going on their favorite hike again, highly fulfilled couples tend to maintain great satisfaction from being thoughtful and generous toward their partner rather than scorekeeping.”
― Kari Carroll
10. Prioritise time alone together
“Couples in sexually satisfying relationships understand that great sex doesn’t just happen naturally; it takes effort. You have to nurture your relationship inside and outside of the bedroom. We’re all busy these days, but your relationship ― much less your sex life ― can’t survive on the scraps of your time and attention. You need to be willing to prioritize quality time alone together over just about everything else in your life. You need to put away your cell phones and turn off the TV, and just be together. You need to make the effort to go on date nights, dress up for each other and seduce each other.”
― Vanessa Marin, sex therapist and creator of Finishing School, the online orgasm course for women
11. Laugh and joke with your partner
“This may sound silly, but laughing is a great aphrodisiac. If you are laughing with your partner, you are likely playful together and able to enjoy each other’s company. Laughing in bed (not at each other but with each other) is a sign of ease and lightheartedness that allows couples to feel positive emotions and ‘let their hair down.’
If it has been a long time since you really cracked up with your significant other, you may be stuck in negative sentiment. This occurs when positive regard and good will erode and resentment overshadows playfulness. Sharing humor or creating your own inside jokes triggers the release of endorphins and produces a general sense of well-being. Laughing also reduces stress hormones, which can help couples relax and be open with one another.”
― Kimberly Resnick Anderson
12. Surprise your partner with a freshly washed car
“Regardless of whether you do the washing yourself or take the car to a car wash, when your partner sees their squeaky clean wheels on the street or in the driveway, he or she will likely be very grateful.”
― Susan Pease Gadoua
13. Gaze into each other’s eyes
“As adults, we still crave that feeling, so when our partner gazes at us with a loving look, it releases ‘romance’ neurochemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin and vasopressin, making us feel good, safe and secure. Take the time to look into your partner’s eyes for at least a minute every day.”
― Melissa Ferrari
14. Smile when you see your partner
“If you walk in the door every day with a sad or angry look on your face, your partner may think that the facial expression is about them and that you are not happy to be home. This can set up a negative evening together for both of you, and possibly the family.”
“The brain is always searching for what feels safe and secure, and facial expressions play an important part here. So when you walk in the door, make an effort to be aware and put a smile on your face — even if it’s just a tiny one,”
― Melissa Ferrari
15. Loving partners are always communicating with each other
“When partners feel that it’s like pulling teeth to get each other to divulge any thoughts or feelings, a relationship can feel very lonely. Happy couples may not communicate constantly on a deep level, but they do it frequently enough to feel that they really know one another.”
― Samantha Rodman
16. Go to bed at the same time as your partner
“You may have different body clocks, but the happiest couples tend to go to bed and wake up together — so try and sync your clocks. Research shows that about three and a half years into a relationship, couples tend to stop going to bed at the same time, which can be a big mistake.”
― Melissa Ferrari
17. The best partners listen intently to their other halves
“Men are naturally problem solvers. When we hear about an issue we are compelled to come up with a suggestion or solution. When a woman vents to you, that’s not always what she’s looking for. She wants you to simply listen and at least make an attempt to understand. She doesn’t want you to give her the answer, but the support she needs to figure it out on her own.”
– relationship blogger James Michael Sama
18. Talk about your feelings before you go to sleep and before you go to work
“Talking about your day and cuddling before you go to sleep is one of the most intimate moments in a couple’s day. So try to stay on the same sleep schedule and go to bed together so you get the chance to connect. In the morning, set your alarm five minutes early so you can wake up and cuddle, which will give your day a great start,”
― Melissa Ferrari
19. Loving partners are almost “addicted” to kissing their love
“Kissing also releases dopamine, which is the same chemical that plays a big role in addiction — so you can actually get positively addicted to this lovely routine by doing it often enough. In some research, it has been shown that kissing can reduce cortisol levels and therefore help you with the daily stresses of life.”
― Melissa Ferrari
Needless to say, all relationships have their ups and downs and no one person on the planet is perfect. Relationships are hard work but if you and your partner are dedicated to making it work, the points on this list are full-proof.