What Happy Couples Do, Tips from a Life Coach Near D.C.
As a life coach near the DC area, I often work with couples that have become unhappy with the current state of their relationship. They usually have been together for a while and have become so caught up in the day to day grind that they find themselves feeling disconnected and dissatisfied. They say things like, “Where has the spark gone? Where is the excitement and joy I use to feel that caused me to look forward to coming home?” They report that they are just not as happy as they once were. If you find yourself feeling this way, there is good news. For many couples there are some simple changes you can make to improve the relationship and increase your connection and happiness. There are practical habits you can began to create that can relight your flame. Here are 4 simple habits I find most often in the happy couples I coach.
1. Hellos and Goodbyes.
This one may seem simple, but it is important. When your spouse leaves for the day and comes home, stop what you are doing and take a moment to connect. Yes, this sometimes is inconvenient but so is being unhappy in your relationship. When you or your spouse leave for the day, look them in the eyes, say something to connect with them, (i.e. I love you, I can’t wait to see you tonight, good luck on your pitch, I know you will kill it in the meeting today, I am proud of you for trying something scary) and touch them. Touch them with your hands, with your lips, it doesn’t matter but do it for 5 seconds. If you kiss them, kiss them for 5 seconds. If you hug them, that’s right, 5 seconds. In those 5 seconds take in the moment and be present. Then when you come home, do it again. At first you will have to be intentional about this but like all my tips, soon it will become a habit that you will look forward to. You can also take this a step further some days. Have you ever come home to a joyful child running with arms wide open yelling your name? Don’t you feel so loved and appreciated in that moment? Like you are the most important person in the world to that child? Now what if your spouse acted like that? What if when you walked through that door, they looked ecstatic and said, “my baby is home!” Then stopped what they were doing and wrapped their arms around you and said, “I am so happy you’re home!” How would you feel? Amazing right? So, do that when your spouse comes home. This may seem over the top, but I promise if you both start being intentional about greetings it will make you both happy, even excited to come home.
2. Check Ins.
Things are always changing in a relationship. Life circumstances change, attitudes change, the family unit changes, etc. You should be periodically checking in with your significant other to see how they feel the relationship is going. Are they happy? If so what about the relationship is going well? If not, what about your interaction has not been working for them? You also check in with yourself and answer the same questions. This is huge in happy relationships. Find a truly happy relationship and you will find open and honest communication where the couple often discusses what is and what is not working and how to improve it. A good rule of thumb to remember is anytime you have a life change, check in with your spouse and with yourself to see how things are going. The second very important part of this step is, you have to be honest about your needs and feelings. If something is not working for you, you have to communicate that to your spouse. Otherwise, you may start to feel resentment towards them which can manifest in aggressive or passive aggressive comments. Resentment left unchecked will breed contempt and contempt will kill the relationship. This can all be avoided by checking in and being honest.
3. Knowing Yourself
If you are not aware of your own thoughts and feelings, then how can you possibly share them with another person? Happy healthy couples tend to be happy healthy individuals. As a life coach, I am yet to meet a person that has terrible habits and poor self-awareness in every aspect of their life but is healthy and happy in their relationship. When you truly know who you are you can be truly known by another person. You are able to understand your feelings and behaviors and you can articulate them to your partner. If you have no idea why you snapped or why you are pulling away, then how are they expected to know? If you find yourself unhappy with the relationship, I encourage you to ask yourself if you are happy with every other aspect of your life? Are there behaviors you could benefit from changing across the board that are causing you to be unhappy? If yes, then work on those behaviors and share your desired behavior changes with your partner. The more you know yourself, the more you can work to change the things that make you unhappy and by default your spouse will better understand you.
4. Remember to Play.
Happy couples often do this in two ways. The first way is they make time to do things together that they both enjoy. This should be a regular part of the relationship. You have to make time for each other. You cannot possibly have a happy relationship if you are not investing in it. Remember the scene from How to Lose A Guy in Ten Dayswhere Kate Hudson yells at Matthew Mcconaughey for killing their love fern? This is exactly that. Doing enjoyable things together releases positive chemicals in your brain that causes you to feel closer. It also is often where we create positive memories that we hold on to during the not so fun times. The second way happy couples do this is by being playful in their daily life. They joke with their partner, laugh with their partner, and have inside jokes with them. The jokes are not hurtful or passive aggressive towards the other person. The jokes are meant to bond and create a positive connection with the other person. Play makes us connect, makes us enjoy the other person and increases our positive outlook on life. So today make it a priority to do something enjoyable together.
Whether these skills seem too easy to be true or too difficult to engage in, I promise you if you start to make them a regular part of your day your relationship can get better. For some couples they may realize that there are deeper issues rooted in their relationship that prevent them from being happy. For these couples counseling or seeing a life coach may be the answer. The important thing to remember is that if two people really are dedicated to making a relationship better, I believe it can get better. It may take time, intentionality and a whole lot of hard work but so does any great thing worth having.
Here are some resources I often suggest to the coaching clients I work with both online and in person:
Boundaries in Marriage by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman