Interesting research reported by the Greater Good Science Center has found that successful relationships share some important habits.
Here are some of my favourite relationship reminders and research-proven habits for happy relationships.
1) Be Each Other’s Biggest Fan
Show admiration and fondness for each other. Share good news and celebrate often. Be a cheerleader for each other and the relationship. Interestingly, the most successful relationships maintain positive illusions over the years, and even exaggerate the positive qualities in each other. Being “realistic” and “pessimistic” are not nearly as helpful to relationship happiness as being “optimistic”. Go ahead and see the glass half-full rather than half-empty, especially when you are thinking about others.
2) Respond Positively to “Bids for Attention”
People who are happy in their relationships respond to each other’s bids for attention 86% of the time. They ask each other questions, communicate understanding and respond positively. They say “Yes” to each other as often as possible.
However, research has found that in unhappy relationships, people respond to each other’s bids for attention only 30% of the time. The next time that you are asked to watch that silly YouTube or listen to their favorite music, just do it!
3) Prioritize Affection and Sex
Research has found that the more affection and sex that people have, the happier they are. Good sex is close, connecting and trusting. Ideally, sex is both playful and intimate, and allows for bonding hormones to be released.
People who can have intimate conversations about their sexual relationship are also happier in their relationships.
4) Make Time For Each Other
Make time for reconnection by spending at least 30 minutes daily chatting about your day.
– Show daily appreciation and gratitude for each other.
– Have reunion and goodbye rituals.
– Make sure that you know that you really matter to each other.
– Be there for each other.
5) Cultivate Forgiveness
According to Dr Fred Luskin of the Stanford Forgiveness Project, there are several necessary steps to forgiveness:
– Remind yourself that we are all flawed human beings.
– Decide whether the betrayal or disappointment is a dealbreaker or not.
– If we stay in relationships, we need to allow ourselves to feel our pain, hurt, disappointment and anger.
– After we feel our pain and soothe ourselves, we need to be willing to open our hearts, surrender and be willing to risk feeling pain and disappointment again.
– All of these forgiveness steps can happen even if our partner is unwilling to take any responsibility or change themselves.
Some of these steps to forgiveness are surprising, yet I personally find it empowering that we can choose whether or not we forgive others. Even if they do not do anything!
The Stanford Forgiveness Project emphasizes that forgiveness is essential in successful, happy relationships. When we choose to trust someone, we are vulnerable and do risk getting hurt again.
Do any of these habits of happy relationships come easily for you?
What habits do you need to work on to make your relationships stronger and happier?
Dr Michelle Gannon is a Psychologist, Relationship Expert and Marriage Prep 101 Founder.
She is a writer, speaker, seminar leader, media expert, individual and couples therapist.