We all know those couples that seem to have it all together. They never seem to argue or bicker, are sensitive to each other’s needs, and seem truly in sync despite any of individual personality quirks or differences.
While people who are “couples goals” are rarely as perfect as they might seem on the outside, there are particular habits and routines that can lead to relationship success—and they’re way simpler than you might be thinking. It’s not about grand, romantic gestures, fancy vacations, or expensive gifts. In fact, according to experts, sometimes it’s as simple as turning off the TV or listening instead of talking so much.
Share Everyday Chores Together
According to Dr. Marianna Strongin, a licensed clinical psychologist, sometimes something as basic as laundry or brushing your teeth can be relationship-building if you make a concerted effort to do it with your partner. “Happy couples love sharing every day chores and rituals together,” Dr. Strongin says. “The more couples can do together, the more they can share and have a common language to speak.”
Think of the most basic part of your everyday routine. Turns out if you do that with significant other, it could be a game-changer—even if it’s something as mundane as getting ready for the workday.
“I have heard of couples showering together, getting ready for work, setting up cleaning up day together to the more usual things like watching TV together,” Dr. Strongin says.
Schedule Specific Together Time
We’ve all heard of “date nights,” but sometimes putting aside specific time for each other doesn’t have to be flashy or romantic. “I think our routine is filled with so many things we need to do and if couples can begin doing those needs together, they can feel better,” Dr. Strongin explains. “For example, I have a couple who get a babysitter every Saturday morning and start the weekend off together working out. It’s something that connects them while also creating positive emotions to start the weekend.”
If you and your partner are constantly busy with children, intense job requirements, or all of the above, make sure to carve out specific time for something that brings you closer together. If working out isn’t your thing, make a recurring brunch reservation at your favorite place or go to the movies every Sunday.
Do Things You Dislike Together
Doing specific things together doesn’t have to be just fun things, though. In fact, Dr. Strongin says that doing things you dislike together can also help relationships. “I have another couple who both hate doing laundry. They made it a point to always do it together. It goes faster and they almost always end up laughing through it,” Dr. Strongin says.
Loving your significant other (hopefully) feels like a given. But being intentional with that love is what Licensed Professional Counselor and Board Certified Counselor Dr. Mark Mayfield suggests. “Let’s be honest, most couples fall in love due to ‘chemistry’ and/or ‘physical attraction.’ There is nothing wrong with these two things, however so many individuals claim that they’ve ‘fallen out of love’ with someone. In my opinion this is crap,” Dr. Mayfield says. “Love is an intentional choice. The feelings will come and go but for a relationship to be healthy and last, there needs to be an intentional choice to love.”
Engage With Each Other’s Interests
Odds are your special someone is interested in things that you might not love or know a lot about. Instead of feeling left out of their interest, make a point to show interest in it. “Intentionality can look several different ways. First, it can look like pursuing the interests of your partner even if it is something you don’t enjoy, but it is important to them,” Dr. Mayfield says.
Listen More Than You Talk
Everyone agrees that communication can make or break relationships. But this doesn’t always mean talking. In fact, as Dr. Mayfield points out, it actually much more often means listening carefully. “Often, communication is more about listening than it is about speaking. A happy couple will work on communication even when there is tension,” Dr. Mayfield says. “Ask yourself these several questions: ‘What is my communication model (what was modeled to me as a child)?’ This will set the tone for either healthy or unhealthy communication. ‘How well do I listen?’ Listening to hear and listening to respond are two different things. ‘When I communicate is my purpose to get my way or open up a line of dialogue?’”
In addition to speaking less often, though, another relationship changer may be turning off technology. Dr. Mayfield suggests putting your devices away when you get home, turning off the TV for at least one hour before bedtime, and finding at least 20 minutes a day to talk about something meaningful.