The Happy Couple: Inside The Secret To Lasting Love

How do you measure happiness? Though it may seem intangible, recently, the dating website eHarmony gave it a go, releasing their second Happiness Index. The results: 83% of Americans say they’re happy in their relationships, with 40% saying they are perfectly or extremely happy. But what does that mean in practice? While eHarmony* broke down many of the common traits shared by perfectly happy couples — monogamous, in excellent health, younger — in the long term, happiness is more complicated.

Happiness Starts At Home

Social connections have been shown to make us healthier and happier, but the fact is that if you want a happy partnership, you have to think about yourself first; simply put, if you’re personally unhappy when you enter a relationship, you’ll probably continue to be unhappy in it. Sure, the initial rush of endorphins may give you a slight high, but those will fade. If you have a good attitude toward life, tending towards optimism and embracing change, however, you’re more likely to build on the happiness through a healthy relationship.

Talk About The Hard Stuff

We all experience challenges in our lives, including bouts of depression and anxiety, job stress, or worry over health, finances, and other daily concerns, and when these struggles strike, you can’t keep them to yourself. Research shows that couples who talk about their mental health are happier than those who repress these conversations. Of course, the ability to have these conversations is also linked to good communication more generally, so keep those lines open. You and your partner need to push past the surface of topics and dig down to the hard stuff if you’re going to make your relationship last.

The Power Of Patience

In new relationships, moments of unhappiness can seem like a signal that you should break up because you’re incompatible, but in longer relationships, patience is key. In fact, among unhappy couples surveyed five years later, those who divorced were as likely to be happy as those who didn’t. Sticking with a situation, then, can allow you to slowly work through hardship and develop strategies for dealing with it, such as reframing the situation and finding calm through mindfulness.

And don’t forget, as the saying goes, this too shall pass. Many problems are superficial and will come to an end. If you and your partner can keep talking through the issue, give each other space, and embrace how change shapes your lives, you’ll get past those difficulties.

Be Grateful

Finally, for happy relationships that last, it’s important to make gratitude a central element in your communication — and be specific about it. As Suzann Pileggi, author of Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts, expressing gratitude well means “focusing on your partner and her actions and her strengths rather than solely on the gift and the benefit to you.” Performing this simple act can substantially reduce the likelihood that a couple will break up in the next six months.

If you’re struggling to make gratitude a central element of your relationship, Emi could be the solution for you. Emi is your daily relationship reminder, providing simple, text message-based exercises for expressing your gratitude, all in under a minute. Sign up today and start taking steps towards happiness that lasts. It’s as easy as a text message.

*Thanks you to one of our wise readers who pointed out eHarmony’s biased history. The site only provides matches for heterosexual individuals, running a separate site for same-sex partners. Their online audience is also older and skews heavily white. It should be noted, however, that the Happiness Index was commissioned by eHarmony but executed by Harris Interactive and included both heterosexual and LGBTQ couples over age 21 in long-term relationships and, according to the final report, Harris Interactive weighted the survey “to be nationally representative by age, gender, and region.”