Do Happy Couples Really Exist?
Do happy couples exist? Absolutely. Research from around the world shows that at least 10% of all married people are really happy. What’s more, marital happiness contributes far more to personal happiness than anything else, including work and friendship satisfaction!
Do Happy Couples Really Exist? Why Should You Care?
This is a key question, whether you are single, newly divorced, dating a person who could be the One, or involved in a relationship that has lasted a while but you are struggling to get a commitment! If your goal is being in a happy, committed lasting love relationship, then you need to understand and clearly visualize that goal or vision if you hope to be successful. Which means you have to know what a healthy relationship looks like. In fact, if you don’t, you’ll just stumble around, facing heartbreak after heartbreak, feeling alone and lonely. Unfortunately, a soul mate does not just come to you as a perfectly fitting puzzle piece or twin personality. So a soul mate is a person who develops and maintains a state of living love in word and deed with you.
Chances are you have had few role models of a win-win relationship; the kind of true love that makes you healthier, happier, and wealthier. It may be hard to envision this kind of relationship for yourself and challenging to learn the skills that happy couples routinely use. Until now!
Do Happy Couples Really Exist? The Great News
The great news is that you can learn these skills and practice them with people around you (they will immediately make you happier!). This, in turn, will help you become the person who could be in a healthy, loving, lasting love. We have seen this happen in our coaching program with people from all kinds of challenging childhood and relationship backgrounds, including those who were abandoned or experienced traumas in childhood and those who have been betrayed, left or wounded in their love relationships as adults! Which means there is hope of finding lasting true love, no matter what you have been through.
Do Happy Couples Really Exist? How Happy Couples Work
There is a commonality among happy couples. The ways in which they talk and act with each other are strikingly similar and 180 degrees different from what goes on in unhappy relationships. Researchers have identified almost all of these healthy patterns, or what I call the Habits of Living Love, by studying tens of thousands of happy couples. My husband, Sam, and I studied the skills of happy couples at our Institute for Comprehensive Family Therapy and have used them in our own lab, our marriage.
Do Happy Couples Really Exist: The Eight Habits of Living Love
All happy families resemble one another.
Each unhappy family is unique in its grief.
-Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
Tolstoy’s powerful observation was this: There is a commonality among happy families. The ways in which they talk and act with each other are strikingly similar and 180 degrees different from what goes on in unhappy families. As I said earlier, researchers have identified almost all of these healthy habits by studying tens of thousands of happy couples. My husband, Sam, and I have used these habits for many many years. They have not only allowed us to weather the family upsets, setbacks, losses, and other assorted slings and arrows, but they have also given us increasing emotional connection, happiness, personal empowerment, and moments of rapturous bliss. In fact, in our coaching practice, we have prescribed these powerful practices to help thousands of other couples create real lasting love.
The Eight Habits:
- Cultivating Intimacy–having alone time as a couple, sharing honestly and being close!
- Acting Out of Dedication and Service–being there and providing emotional help and caring acts when your partner needs you
- Acting from Enlightened Selfishness–speaking your truth and honestly asking for what you need from your partner
- Considering the Cost of Loss–looking at (and appreciating) all the wonderful things that would be lost if the relationship ended
- Showing Appreciation and Gratitude–expressing thanks for small and large acts of love
- Practicing Care-Full Communication–listening carefully to your partner. Also speaking your truth
- Following Fight Club Rules–expressing angry feelings clearly rather than attacking or demeaning your partner
- Collaborating as Teammates–envisioning goals and working towards them together
Do Happy Couples Really Exist? Practice the Eight Habits of Living Love with Everyone
To some extent, most of the habits of happy couples can be practiced with everyone, including friends, children, family, and especially your partner if you have one. Practicing these habits is a lifelong endeavor that truly will allow you to be the change you want to see in your life. The habits help you conquer fears and develop self-discipline and allow you to know, appreciate, and love yourself. You will have better relationships all around, which means your life will improve and be richer.
Keeping your loving skills sharp will serve you well in many relationships, but most of all they will allow you to create love that is deep and fulfilling. You will be the brightest light you can be, attracting a light of the same magnitude. The habits will carry you and your Beloved into the flowering of a beautifully shared future. As the mystic Baal Shem Tov says:
From every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven, and when two souls that are designed to be together find each other, their streams of light flow together and a single, brighter light goes forth from their united being.
Do Happy Couples Really Exist? The Love Journey
The eight habits of happy couples form the backbone of the growing and lasting love journey. They provide a model of a healthy relationship, which is grounded in intimacy, appreciation, devotion, respect, and good collaboration. First we will go over the love journey.
If you are in a committed relationship, examine to what extent the light is shining through in the relationship as it is right now. Make sure that you are regularly experiencing and practicing most of these habits with your chosen one. Remember, the beginning of a relationship should be a very fulfilling time. If you are still evaluating whether a guy is the One, observe, for example, if the current contender is truly a devoted giver (Dedication). If you find that the love habits are hard for either of you to practice with each other, make sure you have a master Love Mentor who will help you directly experience many of the habits.
Do Happy Couples Really Exist? Falling In & Out of Love
Unfortunately, all those dopamine-fueled falling-in-love fireworks, the brain chemicals that fire you up and get you hotly addicted to your Beloved, are designed to fade with time. After about two to three years, the biologically based craving and passion for each other die down and the lovers invariably wind up disappointing and wounding each other.
But there is a flip side to this story: We have selected prototypes of the very people we so dearly wanted to love us-our parents. When our mates break our hearts, they do so in ways that echo our childhood wounds. This means they become even more like our parents. And therefore our mates also have the unique and powerful opportunity to help us heal from our past hurts.
Do Happy Couples Really Exist? How Happy Couples Heal Each Other
In a healthy relationship, the partners work through the wounding process and healing slowly takes place. Instead of simply reacting to each other like hurt children, they work to transcend their reactivity, be mature, and give each other forgiveness, attention, understanding, and validation. This creates an intense bond that is totally unique. At last you get the love you desired from a person who represents your mother or father.
Do Happy Couples Really Exist? My Background
My dad was not very interested in me and certainly did not look at me very much. When I first met my husband Sam, he had a hard time making eye contact when we were discussing emotional topics. This would upset me no end. My childhood wounds flared and I was sure it meant that I was not important and that he didn’t love me. Luckily, my coach taught me to ask for what I needed. And I asked him to look at me during the time we spent together. And he did. His look, his attention, was profoundly healing for me. Still is.
Do Happy Couples Really Exist? The Healing Process in Happy Couples
In happy couples, each partner functions as a master Love Mentor to the other. In this powerful coming together, both lovers have their unmet needs filled so they feel secure and understood (roots) as well as supported in pursuing their own dreams (wings). Tender Loving Care (TTLC) rhythmically flows both ways based on their deepest needs. Thus, it is a spiral of giving and taking that gets better and better over time.
So the lovers quarrel. One partner really needs to be grounded, held, and reassured that she or he is lovable. The other comes through. The receiving partner becomes reassured, feels more whole, grateful, and able to give more back when her turn comes. The partners heal each other and become more secure and empowered over time, which means they can help each other more effectively. This cycle of benevolence leads to deepening gratitude, commitment, and dedication. Out of this healing love relationship the partners grow together and each evolves to his or her fullest capacity. In fact, many studies have shown that spouses in happy couples shape each other positively over time.
Do Happy Couples Really Exist? The Healing Spiral
So as this healing spirals on, there is less fear and wounding of each other. In fact, it creates space for deeper emotional and physical intimacy. This creates a flow of brain chemicals that generates attachment. More of that feel-good oxytocin for women and vasopressin for men. In order to keep these tend-and-befriend hormones going, the members of a couple have to continue to communicate, nurture each other, and team together in a loving win-win way. So they can weather all the disputes, storms and sorrows of life.
Do Happy Couples Really Exist? But what about the Passion?
So you might wonder: what about the sparks, the irresistible yummy passion? Here’s a love news flash: Partners who are healing childhood wounds and growing through their relationship are automatically regenerating chemistry! As they evolve, their behavior becomes more novel and spontaneous-and novelty leads to more dopamine. The personal transformation of the partners means they say and do unexpected things. Funny, creative, thoughtful, or intimate openings occur and create the opportunity to fall in love all over again.
Happy couples shepherd this regenerative process along by having an ongoing affair-with each other. They create novel and exciting ways to flirt with, romance, and bed each other. In this way they create an established and committed relationship that gets progressively richer and sexier over time! True passionate love can actually get better and better!