Perfect Couples: What’s the Secret to “Happily Ever After”?

Fairy tales are just that, but you CAN work towards a better partnership...

Have you ever looked at seemingly perfect couples and wondered what their secret was? What is it that makes a couple seem “almost perfect?” How do they do it, these “happily-ever-after” couples? What are they doing in their relationships that we don’t do in ours and why do we somehow feel second rate to them? What’s WRONG with OUR relationship, you may want to scream! Why aren’t WE perfect?

Don’t scream and don’t feel that your relationship is inadequate because it doesn’t “measure up” to someone else’s. First of all, there are no perfect, or “almost perfect,” relationships. Anyone who feels there are has bought into the Disney version of love: Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, and, my personal favorite, Sleeping Beauty. (She had a happy childhood in the forest with her fairy god-mothers, had lots of friendly woodland creatures to play with, got a great deal of undisturbed beauty sleep, was awakened by Prince Charming, and lived happily… well... you know ending).

While the “happily ever after” image of true love is hard to resist, these stories are what they are; fairy tales. They are not real life.

So why do some couples seem to live in “happily ever after?” Though we may not want to use the expression, couples who seem to be happier together actually “work at” their relationships. Equating love as a job is not something most people want to do but, if we stop and think about it, “working at” a relationship is a good idea. Why? Most things we treasure in our lives need maintenance. A relationship needs maintenance too, to keep it in good condition.

Think of it this way: If you were the CEO of a company that meant a great deal to you, how would you treat it? Would you ignore the day to day issues and hope for the best or would you take charge and make it run as smoothly as possible? It's the same with a relationship.

There are really no real secrets to a happy relationship, just some common sense and courtesy like the following:

Fight fair - stick to the issue that is causing the fight.

Stick to the problem at hand and do not go into the past rehashing old news. It serves no purpose other than to use past hurts as a weapon.

Treat your partner with the respect you would show a stranger.

Huh? The respect we would show a stranger? But don’t we treat our partners better than we treat strangers? Not necessarily. Sometimes, we treat strangers better. Familiarity may not always breed contempt but it can breed something just as bad; taking someone for granted.  It is a fact that, when we are speaking to people we don’t know, we are on our best behavior. We listen to what they have to say, we show interest in their conversations, we treat them as if they are very important to us. Why? We want to impress them with our politeness, our exquisite manners; our overall “niceness.” Sometimes in the day to day life of being together we forget to be “nice” to each other. Remembering to treat each other respectfully strengthens a relationship.

Be friends.

Have fun with each other. Friends laugh, they share; they do silly things together. How often do you laugh together? What interests do you share? This is glue to any relationship. Be a good friend.

Share the work.

Living together means there’re things to be done in your household. No one wants to feel as if they are someone’s servant. Sharing the work lets you be together and takes the burden off one person. And, please, don't do the "gender-thing" when it comes to getting work done in the home. He may be a great cook and she may be fantastic using tools; do whatever works.

Speak sweetly.

There is nothing sweeter than hearing love in your partner’s voice. Who doesn’t want to be spoken to sweetly? Use your bedroom voice! (At the very least don't raise your voice!)

Make being a couple your priority.

Your relationship should be regarded as one of the most important ones in your life. Treat it that way.

Working to have a good relationship is definitely worth it. Small changes can have a big impact and, who knows, maybe someday, someone will refer to you and your partner as a “perfect” couple.


© 2011 Copyright Kristen Houghton

Kristen Houghton is a fantastic Lifestyle journalist who writes for many media outlets, including The Huffington Post and OWN. She is also the author of the top-selling book, And Then I'll Be Happy! Stop Sabotaging Your Happiness and Put Your Own Life First

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