There are some common denominators with those people who manage to forge a contented relationship.
They have lots of sex
A relationship without sex is a bit like a bar with no beer: completely and utterly pointless. “It’s something you do with your partner that most people don’t do with anyone else, so it sets the relationship apart and makes it special,” explains clinical psychologist Ursula Ofman. “Happy couples don’t feel like sex has to be spectacular every time. It’s not a performance sport. It’s a mindful experience with each other.”
They kiss each other every morning
It’s easy to rush out the door to work with little more than a ’see ya’, but taking the time to connect — even if it’s just for 30 seconds — makes a difference, according to psychologist Dr Samantha Rodman. “Many people in unhappy relationships say that they can’t recall when they stopped kissing at greetings and goodbyes . . . it shows that you prioritise your relationship even during the busiest of mornings.”
They have different bank accounts
You’d think that pooling your resources builds trust and openness, but having to explain a missing $650 after a big Friday night to your partner isn’t ideal. “For a considerable number of people, it seems, the decision to retain financial autonomy is not based upon money at all but rather upon on the long-term health of their relationship,” says consumer affairs expert Jasmine Birtles.
They go to bed at the same time
Couples therapist Laura Heck reckons this is the most common piece of advice she doles out to her clients: establish a healthy bedtime routine, including a bit of time together without a phone in front of your face. “Going to bed at the same time doesn’t necessarily mean that both partners must sleep, but it does protect this sacred time to connect physically each day — and I don’t mean sexually. Cuddling releases oxytocin, which is a hormone responsible for making you feel bonded, close and connected to your cuddle partner.”
They thank each other
When partners express gratitude for each other — for everything from cooking dinner to taking out the bins to not leaving the toilet seat up — it shows genuine appreciation. “People who develop a practice or habit of acknowledging gratitude experience very real benefits such as higher levels of joy and optimism, increased compassion, increased connectedness with others, and even stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure,” writes psychotherapist Dawn Schatz.
They fight fair
To quote some words of wisdom by iconic 1980s philosopher Pat Benatar, love is a battlefield — but happy couples stick to some simple rules of engagement. The most important? Listen to what your partner has to say, and begin sentences with “I” rather than “you”. “Instead of saying ‘you’re making me angry’, try ‘I feel angry when . . .’,” says Dr Wendy Walsh. “This helps your partner feel less defensive and more willing to listen to what you’re saying.”