Wednesday, November 18, 2009

10 Habits of Happy Couples

Oh man, do I really want to do this...compare how my husband and I rank as a happy couple to the "10 Habits of Happy Couples" list? The list itself came out just last week.

"Happy couples have different habits than unhappy couples. A habit is a discrete behavior that you do automatically and that takes little effort to maintain. It takes 21 days of daily repetition of a new a behavior to become a habit. So select one of the behaviors in the list above to do for 21 days and voila, it will become a habit…and make you happier as a couple. And if you fall off the wagon, don’t despair, just apologize to your partner, ask their forgiveness and recommit yourself to getting back in the habit."

Hopefully, Dr. Mark Goulston, the author of the list, knows what he's talking about and this list won't be a bunch of bullshit! I don't want to "out" ourselves with an unhappy marriage here on the Internet. His bio at Psychology Today doesn't mention if he's married or not...that omission might be warning sign.

Oh wait, I spoke too soon: according to Dr. Goulston's website, he is married. Good sign, then he can give relationship advice.

"Nothing against relationship "experts", but I have a little problem with experts that give advice but aren't in a successful relationship of their own. Dr. John Gray. He's the author of "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus." He's also been married twice, which is nothing bad, but it does make me wonder. Shoot, his first wife was a fellow self-help author. How messed up was that relationship?!

So anyway, onward!

1. Go to bed at the same time. This is pretty random for us, if it ever happens. I tend to stay up later during the week, and on the weekends, I usually go to bed first. But then again, my husband has to get up much earlier for work than I do.

2. Cultivate common interests. We do have some common interests that we've always had, right from the get-go. As we get older, I think our cultivated interests have become more individual. Neither of us think we need to be joined at the hip all the time.

3. Walk hand in hand or side by side. We don't typically hold hands, but we do walk side by side. I think it would just be rude to not do that.

4. Make trust and forgiveness your default mode. Maybe this should be "Let it go" or "Don't sweat the small stuff." But sometimes, if you've a really, particularly intense fight, isn't it hard to let go and forgive? That's not to say that I don't trust my husband, because I do. I'd trust him with my life. Although, learning to "fight" effectively without being a bitch or holding it all in until it spills over a thte wrong time is a hard thing to do, especially if you grew up never having seen it done by both parties correctly.

5. Focus more on what your partner does right than what he or she does wrong. I think this is just nicer. Why be so pessimistic? I think we both do this.

6. Hug each other as soon as you see each other after work. Oh yeah, we go that down pat.

7. Say “I love you” and “Have a good day” every morning. I don't effectively function first thing in the morning, but most days, I am aware of my husband leaving for work, even if I'm still in bed because he comes in to say goodbye to me. On the rare occasions when he gets to sleep in when I'm leaving, I do the same for him. Call me weird, but for me (and maybe for my husband), I do it just because you don't know what your day will hold.

8. Say “Good night” every night, regardless of how you feel. Yep, we got this one too.

9. Do a “weather” check during the day. It's harder for me to get a hold of my husband during the day by phone, so when I do call him, it's usually me leaving a message for him. Sometimes, he'll call me at work. I think it's nice.

10. Be proud to be seen with your partner. I think this is the case for us too.

You know, all in all, we're doing good. As a pessimist (sometimes), I was really expecting this list to be something different, where we'd come out looking like a couple of flakes headed for a divorce or something.

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