Whenever you see a happy couple who have been together for a long time, your first thought might be, “how do they do it?” They seem to interact with ease and know how to complement one another without missing a beat. But it’s not that these couples never have conflict. They experience troubles just like the rest of us; the only difference is they use their positive personality traits as a tool to help them navigate their interactions. These traits allow them to handle hard times gracefully, making their union even stronger.
The most successful couples generally share a few key positive traits. If you want your relationship to thrive, it will benefit you to work on developing in these areas. Here are six traits of successful couples.
Successful couples show their appreciation for one another every chance they get. They don’t take each other for granted and they realize each day with their partner is a gift to be celebrated. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Georgia found expressions of gratitude could predict the quality of a marriage. “We found that feeling appreciated and believing that your spouse values you directly influences how you feel about your marriage, how committed you are to it, and your belief that it will last,” study co-author Ted Futris said.
Couples who have relationships that work are kind to each other, even when they’re angry. An argument doesn’t turn into a shouting match where each person is vying to be right. Instead, disagreements are seen as opportunities for understanding. Sanaa Hyder, a psychotherapist and author at The Gottman Institute, writes practicing kindness can be as simple as mentioning nice things your partner does.
Remind yourself of the nice things your partner has done each day. For instance, did they take out the recycling or come home early one night for dinner? However small the action, make it a habit of noticing the kindness as it is happening and make a mental note of how happy it makes you feel. When you see your partner, mention it to them. Noticing the good things about your partner helps to keep you in what Dr. John Gottman calls the Positive Perspective or Positive Sentiment Override. It is a sense of hopeful well-being that arises from positive thoughts and positive interactions.
Successful couples have perfected the art of listening to each other and being aware of one another. They know how to resolve conflict by attempting to learn each other’s needs and making an effort to fulfill those needs as best they can. In his book, The 5 Love Languages, author Gary Chapman describes these basic needs (or love languages, as he refers to them) as words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.
Winning couples gracefully repair relationship ruptures. Instead of walking out of the room in a huff or giving the silent treatment, these couples pause and smooth out their differences with love and care. Letting things blow over isn’t their style. Rather, they intentionally work on resolving a relationship disruption by letting each other know how they feel and making an effort to repair what isn’t working in the relationship. They honor each other’s feelings and move forward by talking through their issues, doing what they can to alleviate emotional pain.
Successful couples, although generally happy, understand relationships can be tough. Consequently, they know how to diffuse tension with playfulness and a bit of humor when needed. A dose of laughter is one of the key ingredients to their recipe for a fruitful partnership.
Author and therapist Enda Junkins says she believes seriousness can kill joyful relationships. Junkins writes in Belly Laughter in Relationships:
It is my belief that it is overwhelming and enforced seriousness in relationships that brings unhappiness and divorce. For many different reasons, we give up a playful attitude toward life together and the laughter it brings. Without laughter, we lose our perspective about things so our issues are always “in our face.” It’s no wonder we eventually want out,”
Couples who enjoy a satisfying partnership are committed to each other and the health of their relationship. Their goal is to stick it out, even when things get tough. Most importantly, they choose to love each other even when they don’t like each other. Their relationship is a top priority.
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