9 Ways to Have a Happy, Healthy Relationship IRL

We all know what a happy couple looks like on the outside — it’s all smiles, snuggles, and sex galore. But what happens behind-the-scenes in these relationships that make them so successful? A lot of hard work. If you want to be one-half of a happy, healthy couple, here are 9 things you can do to make that happen.

9 Ways to Have a Happy, Healthy Relationship IRL

 

1 Communicating clearly. 

People in healthy relationships know how to communicate like it’s their job. They understand how important it is to be able to truly talk about your feelings — both the good AND the bad. They know how to vocalize what they need, how to say “I love you,” and how to compliment with ease, while dealing with the hard topics head on. Having heartfelt conversations with your partner, no matter how uncomfortable they may be, is the key to keeping your relationship on the right track!

2 Fighting fair. 

Arguments are going to happen in your relationship, there’s no way around it. But knowing how to fight fair is the key to coming out the other side of the dispute in a better place than when you started. A fight isn’t a sign that the world is ending nor is it something that needs to be “won.” In a healthy relationship, it’s actually a chance to present your thoughts and work to understand your partner better.

3 Laughing often. 

All work and no play make for a boring, unsatisfying relationship. Happy couples? They don’t take themselves (or their relationship) seriously ALL of the time. Knowing how to enjoy your partner’s company, whether you’re on a fun road trip or doing the laundry, will help you maintain a solid connection with your partner. Laugh at yourself, laugh with (and at) your partner…just don’t underestimate the power of a good time!

Inspired by This Southern Summer Engagement by Chris Isham Photography

4 Respecting each other. 

There’s no place in a positive relationship for name-calling and idle threats. Your time with your partner should be about mutual respect. And not just having a general regard for each other’s time and space, but also valuing each other’s family, personality, feelings, and trust. Make important decisions together, don’t talk negatively about your in-laws (unless it’s warranted!), and give your partner room to have his or her own reactions.

5 Spending time apart. 

Spending time with your significant other is super important, but so is the time you spend away from him or her. This especially rings true if you live under the same roof. Just because you’re an item, a couple, a pair, doesn’t mean that you have to lose your identity. You don’t have to do EVERYTHING as a “we” just because you can. Being able to do your own thing from time to time will help keep the conversation fresh and will allow you to step away from any issues going on at home. You never know what great advice your bestie, mom or that barista at Starbucks might have! If you’re able to put healthy boundaries in place and embrace some level of autonomy, you’re in for a long-lasting partnership.

6 Getting to know each other. 

If you and your partner know what makes each other happy, chances are you’ll be able to maintain a happy relationship. It’s just science. So listen when she tells you she looooves foot rubs; figure out what his definition of quality time is (if it’s watching football, embrace it!); learn what gifts she finds to be meaningful, what words of encouragement will really help him out. Figure out what makes your partner feel loved…and then do that every. single. day. And be clear about what makes YOU feel loved and special. It’s a two-way street, baby.

7 Connecting through intimacy. 

Being affectionate with your partner physically will do wonders for your emotional intimacy as well. Never underestimate the importance of hugging, kissing, and snuggling! Hold hands when you’re walking the dog, look deep into each other’s eyes when you’re out on a date, and make time for sex. Sex is definitely an important part of any healthy relationship, but make sure you use it as a way to connect, NOT as a weapon or as a space-filler.

8 Showing some appreciation. 

If Coach and Tami Taylor taught us ANYTHING, it’s that you have to know how to appreciate your partner for all they are and all they hope to be. Sure, there will be times when your partner does something that really bothers you, but that’s when it’s the MOST important to choose to see the best in him or her (not the worst). Always keep in mind the things that make you love your partner — the jokes, the adventures, the little quirks — because that’s what will get you through the rough patches.

9 Making your love known. 

If you love your partner, make sure you tell him or her! We know how easy it is to forget to say those three little words on a daily basis (hey, life is hard!), but showing your partner how you feel every day (not just on special occasions) will help keep the love alive. Little gestures, like bringing home her favorite beer or cooking his favorite dinner on a random Tuesday night, will make all the difference.

Get more relationship advice here:

7 Signs You’re In a Legit Grown Up Relationship

6 Relationship Habits That Are Actually NOT Okay

The Millennial’s Guide to Reducing Stress in Your Relationship This Year