The Science of Happy Couples

by Dec 2, 2013


Relationships haven’t been boiled down to an exact science…not yet at least. But some psychology professors whose life’s work is researching the nature of these relationships have come up with some pretty helpful tips, tools, and trends among healthy couples with lasting relationships.

After reading this article I wanted to highlight some of the most important habits (in my opinion) couples can adhere to:

  • Communication Skills – This one is the bedrock upon which all other relationships variables are built on. Having good communication skills means being aware of what messages you are sending your partner, and what messages your partner might be getting. It means slowing yourself down and recognizing what role you’re playing in the conversation going well or not so well. It can be as simple as changing your language from “You’re always criticizing me…” to “I feel criticized when you…” These skills help couples to handle conflict better.
  • Celebrate the Successes – We are wired to pick out the “thing” that doesn’t belong, to recognize when a pattern changes. When our kids bring us home the report card with all A’s and a B in Algebra, we can’t help but wonder what happened there? When we switch our minds from “scanning for the negative” to “searching for the positive” AND when we express and share our appreciation, admiration, and fondness for the positive things in our partner’s lives, that outward support can have lasting positive effects on how your partner feels about you and about themselves.

In the spirit of good communication skills and celebrating successes, perhaps take the time today to notice something positive about your partner, and communicate it to them! Maya Angelou was very wise when she said, “…people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Photo taken June 13, 2010. 

Robin S. Smith, MS, LCMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in clinical practice in Bethesda MD, and specializes in relationship issues for couples, families, and individuals, for improved quality of life. His clinical specialties include: transition to parenthood for new and expecting parents, infidelity, sex and intimacy issues, premarital counseling, and trauma. Robin has given talks to various groups including hospital administrators, graduate students, therapists, and child birth educators. He is the primary contributor to The Couple and Family Clinic Blog.

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