Whether you’re celebrating one year of spouseship or 10, there is always room to strengthen your relationship and work toward the goal of a happier long-term union. While this looks different for every single couple, there are a few core things people in partnerships can practice every day in order to sustain a happy, flourishing marriage.
Before you can do any work on a relationship, each individual partner has to look inward in order to show up in the best way possible for themselves, their partner, and the marriage as a whole. “People always want to say [the key to happiness] is communication, but good communication starts with knowing how you show up to your partner and to the relationship. “This requires taking responsibility for your thoughts and actions and doing your personal work (either on your own or with a therapist) to be the best version of yourself daily,” says Torrent.
Look at How You Argue
Arguing within any kind of relationship is unavoidable—especially if you’re in it for the long haul. Torrent emphasizes that you can’t just fight to win, or fight to play the victim role. He frames it like this: “Couples who fight constantly are building a relational culture between them that is founded on one-upmanship and competition, where one partner is the victor and the other is the vanquished.” However, couples who want to feel closer to one another during challenging times should consider that ultimately, two partners’ goals are the same. “Healthy relationship that span the test of time are ones where each partner realizes that the relationship is a zero-sum game—meaning, if your partner loses, then you lose too,” Torrent explains. “And if you really love this person, why would you want them to lose anything?”
Build Healthy Habits
Good habits are the foundation of any healthy relationship and that includes the relationship with yourself and with your partner. If both partners do the work to form healthy habits on their own and together within the marriage, this sets everyone up for success. Even though it may seem like going to couples’ counseling isn’t necessary until issues arrive, Torrent emphasizes that seeking a relationship therapist before larger issues come up can be a great way to work on habit-building as partners. “A quality therapist can help you build healthy habits—like identifying and combating unhealthy narratives—which will only result in the longevity of your relationship,” he says.