Guy Winch, a family psychologist who has been helping couples for more than 20 years, thinks that happiness and satisfaction in a relationship depend on three key factors. More than that, these factors are not instinctual and require learning and preparation. The skills must be developed which takes a lot of practice. Winch’s colleagues also talk about other habits which help couples stay satisfied with their relationships for many years.
We at Bright Side decided to tell you about these skills and habits. And at the end of the article, there is a bonus about emotional hygiene. According to psychologists, it just as important as brushing your teeth every day.
Compassion is the ability to imagine yourself in someone else’s shoes and give them some feedback: support them or comfort them, be sad or happy together.
After you’ve lived a few years with someone, you might think that you know each other very well. However, this can be an obstacle in your way of developing empathy for each other in the relationship.
In order to avoid this mistake, practice your compassion. Try putting yourself in someone else’s place. Close your eyes, and, taking the person’s character and the circumstances they are in into account, try to imagine how they must be feeling. Forget about your opinion of the problem, try to understand the other person’s emotions. This will allow you show empathy which is so important for a happy and healthy relationship.
2. Emotional understanding
The previous point kind of leads to this one. We mean that it’s important to not just be able to put yourself in someone else’s place when they are in trouble, but also during very heated arguments between the two of you.
Of course, during an argument, very few people ever say: “You have the right to feel this way, and I understand that.” It seems that saying that may only make things worse, but it won’t. These words can have a miraculous effect. Your partner will realize that you understand their feelings and even though you are upset, you accept the way they are feeling. This realization leads to feeling relieved and forgetting about the negative emotions.
3. Attention and politeness
We all have an inclination to underestimate the importance of small acts of politeness and attention. A vicious circle often appears in relationships: one partner demonstrates they are upset, the other one does the same, and it all leads to a serious conflict. In this case, attention, like a bouquet of flowers, a favorite chocolate bar, a tasty dinner, or a hug, can help take the edge off and break the circle.
Of course, attention and politeness can’t fix this type of situation if you made someone suffer. But if the situation is not that bad yet, don’t discount this tactic.
Some couples get so used to each other that they start treating each other like roommates. And every person starts living their own lives. In this situation, some people often ignore their partners’ opinions when they make a decision.
And this is the worst thing you can do. This approach will most likely lead to frequent arguments and breaking up. To avoid this, you should make important decisions taking your partner’s opinion into account. Because these decisions will likely influence your and your partner’s life.
Don’t try to read between the lines when your partner tells you something neutral or even nice. This way you are escalating a non-existent conflict. Or a conflict that only exists in your head.
Don’t speculate in any situation, just ask your partner directly about what they really meant.
Tell your partner how grateful you are every chance you get. You may not believe this, but these words are magical. Your partner will fell that he or she is useful, needed, and realize that you really think this way. And you will probably hear the words “thank you” more, not just for something big, but even for the normal things.
7. Not taking each other for granted
All relationships need boundaries, limits, and responsibilities. And you shouldn’t take everything in a relationship for granted.
To make sure that both partners are satisfied with a relationship, they need to work on it, learn to talk, learn to solve problems, and make compromises. Don’t take your partner’s words or actions for granted. Then, your partner will do the same for you.
Many people think that the person they love is accountable for their sense of contentment. This is only partly true. The foundation of your happiness is not someone else, it’s you. If you were unhappy with your life before the relationship, then the relationship can improve the situation only temporarily. And after that, your past emotions will return.
Don’t think that your partner is responsible for this. You are the architect of your happiness. Just remember that.
Never say anything bad behind your partner’s back. It’s not even that he or she will most likely find out and be upset. The problem is that sooner or later you will probably solve the problem, but your mother or your friends who you complained to will remember the bad words you said. And let’s be honest, you told them to get support, and it didn’t matter at the moment if it was right or wrong.
Be wiser. Discuss the problems in your relationship with your partner, don’t talk about the flaws that both of you have during a heated argument, but only when you are calm. In this case, the chances that you will be happy together for a long time are much higher.
Bonus: emotional hygiene
Very few people pay as much attention to their psychological health as they do their physical health, even though we get more psychological injuries that physical ones. And Guy Winch is convinced that the worst enemy of your psychological health is rumination.
Rumination is thinking about the same things over and over again. Like when you fail something or get rejected in a relationship, you keep thinking about it for a long time.
Winch thinks that every time you start thinking about negative things that happened, you should deliberately find something positive to think about. After a few minutes pass, you will be thinking about good things and this will become a habit over time.
And what do you think are the key factors to a happy and healthy relationship?