When you’re striving to achieve that happy relationship, it is easy to look at other couples and feel like there’s just something missing in your own. The fact is, relationships can be a bit of a mystery, and sometimes, two people seem like they just click. Nevertheless, the happiest couples you know—the ones in a long-term relationship who seem just as happy as they were in the beginning—likely have a few secrets. Take a look at five secrets happy couples know that most don’t.
1. Arguments can be productive
If you want to know the secret to a good relationship, find a happy couple and watch them argue. This is pretty much impossible, but the thing is, arguments are not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, some professionals claim that couples that aren’t arguing are usually the couples that split because a lack of heated conflict can be a sign of indifference; no one cares enough to fight. Productive arguments involve active listening, making requests over complaints, and taking timeouts when needed.
2. Autonomy is important
Autonomy is all about individual interests, values, and interests. No two people are ever going to be exactly alike, and you should never enter a relationship with expectations that your partner will be just like you. The happiest couples involve two people who retain their own individual personalities and interests and appreciate the other person in spite of their differences. In other words, you don’t sacrifice yourself and your interests to please your partner, and you should never expect them to either.
3. Never stop having fun together
The happiest couples involve fun and, well, happiness. Remember what it was like when you first met your partner? Think about all the excitement that came from doing new things together, making each other laugh, and simply enjoying each other’s company. It is easy to let these things fall by the wayside once you move beyond the infatuation stage of a relationship, but these fun times are a bond that keeps two people together.
4. It’s better to have hurt feelings than dishonesty
Trust is a pillar of a good relationship. The one thing that can ruin that supportive pillar is dishonesty. Any happy couple will tell you that being open, honest, and vulnerable is incredibly important, even when doing so may provoke an undesirable response from your partner. For example, if you’ve done something you know will cause your partner to be disappointed in you, fess up and face that disappointment head-on. Otherwise, if your partner discovers the issue later and sees that you lied, this puts a crack in ever-important trust.
5. Long-term relationships require semi-long-term work
Good relationships don’t usually happen by accident—they take ongoing work from both parties. Psychology Today lists off a handful of things most couples have to work on: committed listening, honesty, being vulnerable with your partner, and learning to let go of control. The good news is, this period of "work" may not last forever, but the same effort should always be given even in the long term. In other words, happy couples usually go through a period of working hard to achieve contentedness, and then when new issues arise, they tackle them with an open mind instead of giving up.