10 things that a happy couple knows (and maybe you should too)

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson
Updated January 18, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

When it comes to having a happy relationship, ticking all the boxes can seem challenging, if not impossible. This may be especially true if we tend to compare ourselves and our relationships to those of others. So, what is it that a happy couple knows that you don't? There may not be one answer, but healthy relationships do tend to include some specific attributes. Let's take a closer look.

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Learning how to navigate healthy relationships can be hard

1. Don't sweat the small stuff

There may always be little things about your relationship that are frustrating or challenging to manage. Your partner may do things you don't like or don't understand; you might occasionally argue or disagree. Understanding that ups and downs can be part of a happy relationship may help you prioritize issues that truly impact the health of your connection with your partner. It can be helpful to learn to let the little things go and recognize when there are ways to communicate without conflict. 

2. Disagreements will probably happen

It's very likely that, at least occasionally, you and your partner might feel angry at each other. In fact, research suggests that 30% of couples experience some sort of conflict at least once a week, 28% experience conflict at least once a month, and 32% experience conflict once or multiple times per year.

Realizing disagreements can be part of a relationship rather than something to avoid can help you feel better prepared for them and more equipped to reflect on them. What matters most is that you and your partner have constructive ways to process things that cause conflict.

Disagreement often points to differences in expectations, poor communication, and other underlying causes that can usually be fixed as a team. 

3. You're in this together

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Many happy couples understand that whatever may come to you and your partner, you're likely stronger when you're in it together. Supporting and uplifting one another as individuals and as a couple can be important for long-term happiness. It can be reassuring and empowering to be sure your partner knows you're there for them as a cheerleader and best friend. 

4. Relationships take effort

It's often important to keep some sort of spark alive during a relationship; feeling wanted and interesting is something that many people find dies down the longer they stay with a partner, but that doesn't have to be the case. Try to find ways to keep things interesting, whether through regular date nights or simply taking some time to check in with your partner. 

5. Express yourself

No one is good at guessing games when they don't even know they're playing. While it can be hard to communicate openly with others, especially those about whom we care, being honest with your partner can be crucial. If it upsets you when your spouse leaves their socks in the middle of the bathroom, for example, make an effort to say something rather than keeping it to yourself. The more we let things build up, the more likely we are to communicate our frustration in less-than-productive ways. Solutions can only come about when we are made aware of the problem in the first place.  

6. You should try to be on the same team

No matter what you and your partner face in life, ensuring you're on the same page about what you expect and need can be important. This could mean acting as a united front when parenting, having similar career aspirations, or something else entirely. Remaining in touch with your partner's goals can help you connect to them and bring satisfaction to the relationship over time.  

7. Your relationship is between you

You've likely been given advice (solicited or not!) from others about your relationship, but the truth is that only you and your partner(s) can decide what constitutes a successful relationship for you. The pressure to do things the "right" way can sometimes lead us to make decisions with which we're not happy, so it can be important to remember your own autonomy in a relationship. If you don't want to get married, have children, live together, etc., there's no pressure to – doing things your own way doesn't have to reflect on the quality of your relationship, either. 

8. Your relationship may change

It's possible that the nature of your relationship might change over time. The same goes for your feelings for your partner. While the way you feel may not be less, it might be different. It's okay to experience shifts in how you view yourself, your partner, and the relationship you have; in fact, it may indicate that your bond is strong enough to overcome life changes.

9. Have your own lives

While there's nothing wrong with loving to spend time with your partner, it can be equally important to find things that you can do and enjoy for yourself. Whether that means you each take a class in something you enjoy (separately), or you spend time with your friends a couple times a month, finding ways to pursue personal passions can help you make sure you don't sacrifice your well-being for someone else. 

 10. Know that asking for help isn't a weakness

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Learning how to navigate healthy relationships can be hard

Many couples experience challenges in their relationship related to communication, learning how to compromise, and more. If you and your partner are in a rough patch or may benefit from the guidance of an outside party, you're not alone. Personal experiences and differences mean that just about anyone in a relationship can benefit from support, regardless of how things are going. 

You can think of realizing you may benefit from outside help as a sign that you value your relationship enough to want to do whatever it takes to make it better and stronger. No matter what that means for you, finding a professional with whom to work may be a step in the right direction. 

Mental health professionals who specialize in couples therapy can help you navigate conflicts as they arise, work to understand one another fully and find the best ways to support your partner. Speaking with an online therapist allows you to receive care from wherever makes the most sense for you and your partner. 

Additionally, online therapy has been shown to be effective and beneficial for couples. In fact, one study noted that some online therapy patients find that they're more comfortable discussing information through web-based sessions than in-person, perhaps because of the distance that an online platform can help create. Online therapy may act as a safe space for you and your partner to discuss your genuine feelings, receive advice, and come together to find solutions to problems.

Takeaway

There may not be any one secret that happy couples can thank for the success of their relationship, but there are some general tips you can keep in mind to help keep you and your partner as content as possible. Understanding that some level of conflict can be normal and that it's okay to disagree can be reassuring. Likewise, working with a mental health professional to develop the skills necessary to keep relationships alive and thriving can help.

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