- Defining a purpose
- Honest communication
- Freedom to be you
- Respect, Equality and Trust
It’s often said that falling in love is easy, staying in love is harder and growing in love is the hardest. Some say it’s because the charm of a new flame is destined to fade away, while some of us, on the other hand, define love as the ultimate support and a blessing.
Couples often struggle to accept the bittersweet truth that love, just like every other emotion, changes as we grow. It evolves from an exciting honeymoon phase in our youth; to a mature, supportive kind of love in our middle age; to a deep, comforting bond in our old age. Each phase demands differently from us and each phase has its own rewards. Our relationships define who we are, and just like our individual personalities, every relationship is different. Some relationships continue to shine over time, but some fizzle out.
In most happy relationships, there are certain unspoken foundational rules. These relationship guidelines are not to be confused with things like ‘having frequent date nights’ or ‘giving each other presents’; instead, they are broader concepts that lay the groundwork of a solid relationship that is open, nurturing, and fulfilling.
Here are some relationship guidelines all happy couples follow in some way or another. Note that these are not one-size-fits-all rules and we’re not relationship experts. We have researched, summarized, and taken inspiration from various scientific and emotional sources, to develop a deeper insight for happier relationships.
This rule is not just limited to relationships. Almost all things that we initiate in our lives, need to be backed with some sort of a purpose. Studies over time have found that couples who had a clearer understanding of where their relationship stands, and where it’s headed, ended up happier and more fulfilled. Couples who knew that things weren’t working but still gave into commitments because they felt comfortable or unprepared to end things, felt unfulfilled in some parts of their lives.
Starting new relationships with purposefulness, introspecting, and then communicating your needs and expectations (financial, social, physical, and mental) will help set expectations for both parties involved, preventing clashes and resentment later on.
All happy relationships have one core value: honest communication. How partners communicate, essentially defines the quality of their relationship in the long run. Open, constructive communication is the foundation stone of a strong partnership. This becomes even more crucial in times of conflict. How we convey our feelings and anxieties to our partner defines how they will perceive it, and ultimately find a resolution with you. Learning how to put your thoughts in a calm, non-judgmental manner becomes vital to arrive at a solution, instead of getting stuck on their expression. Truthful conversations also allow room for forgiveness, reparation and ultimately, improve strength and affection.
Some couples’ personalities tend to get blurred into one another’s after a few years of togetherness. While it is inevitable to take on some of our partner’s habits or traits as we live with them (liking their hobbies, or literature they prefer, or their organization skills), we also need to maintain our own personalities over the course. Couples who don’t recognize this on time tend to feel like they have lost their real selves along the course of their relationship, which ultimately results in questioning who they really are, and even developing a sense of resentment towards their partners. It is, hence, important to carve out time for ourselves every now and then, getting in touch with who we really are, doing things that bring us joy. Only when we are true to ourselves, will we be able to truly be present in the relationship, and acknowledge our partner’s true self too.
On the flip side, it is also important to take out time to spend quality time with our other half. We get stretched in so many directions during our everyday lives; it becomes essential to block some uninterrupted time with our partners. Studies have also shown that couples who spend time taking up couples activities show an increase in ‘love hormone’ (oxytocin). They learn how to bond with each other in unfamiliar surroundings or situations, develop patience and mutual respect. This does not include attending events together, but actually doing something novel and fun.
As a rule, learn to spend some ‘me time’ – not only will it help your mental and emotional wellbeing, but also strengthen your relationship. Make time for each other and explore new things that you like with your partner.
This one is an indispensable rule all happy couples adhere to. As we grow with our significant other, the realities of life sometimes force us to break. But the ability to move past difficult situations with mutual trust and respect is what separates happier couples with those who are not. Studies found that partners who trust each other feel more satisfied in the relationship. Instead of placing blame on one another, they work through tough situations, never losing their admiration and patience.
Another core principle they follow is to always treat their partner as equals, and not comparing their financial, intellectual, or any other abilities to themselves or to others. They realize the value of their partnership, not get threatened by them, and help each other grow and succeed in all areas of life. They present a united front no matter what comes their way rather than pushing them under the bus. Respect, trust, and equality become the center pillars and their guiding lights.
This gets often ignored, but all happy couples, at their core, are best friends. They speak the same language, confide in each other, enjoy spending time with each other, do simple things to appreciate each other, and just have fun! They know how to take things in their stride and that life is not as serious as we make it to be. Friendship also makes them see past each other’s flaws or mistakes and makes them stronger.
These relationship guidelines are stepping stones to a supportive relationship, but don’t strictly define it. Your relationship is a happy one long as you and your partner feel supported, appreciated, and fulfilled. It is always helpful to pause and reflect on your relationship as it goes through ups and downs and finds what makes you stronger.