August 3, 2017 |Gideon Hanekom

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This post looks at the secrets of happy couples and what they do differently to create happier, healthier, and more intimate relationships than others.

“Love is when the other person’s happiness is more important than your own.”

H. Jackson Brown

I’m a big proponent of the concept of “modelling.”

Not the type you do on a catwalk, but rather the idea of “modelling something or someone” to replicate the same results.

Once you understand the principle of “modelling” you end up with a very powerful tool for creating almost any result in almost any area of your life; including your relationship or marriage.

Right now, there are couples who have extremely solid, happy and fulfilling relationships which you can learn from.

You can essentially “model” what they doing to replicate some of the same results they are getting.

All you need to do is learn some of the principles, strategies, and habits they build their relationships on, and start implementing some of the same things on your own.

The truth is that happy couples do certain things differently from unhappy couples.

It’s got very little to do with luck, personality differences, circumstances, family influence, financial pressure, personal anxiety or feelings of depression, etc.

It’s all about how you respond to external stimuli that makes the difference.

It’s also about the quality of the foundation you have as a couple that determines the strength of your relationship in dealing with whatever life throws at you.

Secrets of Happy Couples

So, would you like to have a stronger, happier relationship?

Then you have to realise that happiness in your relationship is not something that all happen by accident.

Happiness in a relationship is rather the result of several small things done on a daily basis.

And the good news is that these small tasks are within your capabilities right now.

Just a little time and attention have the potential to grow your relationship into a great source of happiness for both you and your partner.

To help you do that, I will share with you a few simple strategies for happy couples you can start applying to your situation to strengthen your relationship right away.

Follow these 8 Secrets of happy couples to massively improve the happiness levels of your relationship

Happy couples confront each other effectively

In order to deal with conflict better, you need to understand that no relationship is free from disagreements. Happy couples still have disagreements.

But, the most important issue is how those disagreements are handled. Happy couples seem to handle disagreements far differently from those who are unhappy.

In order to improve your happiness levels, you need to learn how to handle your disagreements quickly, fairly, graciously, and effectively.

Stay focused and address problematic behaviours, and forget about personal insults or attacking your partner.

Happy couples are very effective in staying on task and dealing with the issue at hand without launching personal attacks on their partners.

Couples who experience a lot of turmoil and frustration typically struggle to do that.

They allow their emotions to get the better of them which typically results in taking things personally and defending themselves by attacking their partners.

Secrets of Happy Couples

Consequently, nothing gets resolved but they are also now left with hurt egos and pride.

They then tend to carry this forward into their next disagreement which simply intensifies the whole situation even more.

It’s important to deal with the issue at hand as quickly and graciously as possible, rather than proving who is right or wrong.

Men especially don’t seem to understand this very well.

Even if you can prove that you are “right” and your partner is “wrong,” you still end up losing in the long run.

Your relationship suffers even though you might have some short-term satisfaction from winning the argument and proving your partner wrong.

You might have won the battle but your relationship is definitely losing the war.

Happy couples have compatible goals

Is your dream to travel the world, and never stay in one place for more than a few months?

That’s great, but the real question is: is your partner’s dream to have five kids and live in her hometown, having dinner with her parents every night while you’re off travelling the world?

One of you is going to be miserable.

Now, that might be an extreme example, but the principle still holds water.

Happy couples are very good at having goals that are compatible. They tend to pursue dreams in a way that makes it easy for each partner to do that freely and with the full support of each other.

Unhappy couples conversely, tend to not give a crap about how their goals affect their partner. As long as they are happy in pursuing whatever it is they are pursuing, it doesn’t really matter what their partner feels.

You oftentimes see this with younger couples, even though it is very common with long-term relationships also.

A young guy would pursue his sports career as an example, without giving much thought to how it’s impacting his young family at home.

They might be supportive of him achieving something, but it is easy to confuse commitment for support.

Your family might be “supporting you” because they are “committed to YOU” rather than your goals.

If you don’t appreciate the difference, it is easy to start taking their support for granted and trample on the sense of commitment also.

Doing that will make you suffer the consequences.

Secrets of Happy Couples

Ultimately, your goals don’t have to match precisely, but they must be compatible. Otherwise, one of you will have to sacrifice too much to make the other happy.

There has to be a balance between pursuing your goals and serving your relationship.

Any healthy relationship will have enough room for both, but it is something to be valued and looked after and not taken for granted.

Once your goals become more important than your partner, I can almost bet you my last dollar that your relationship will at one point or another take a massive hit.

You need to avoid that by making sure you’re not trying to serve two masters: your partner and your goals.

Keep your goals compatible with your partner and they will support you as you do them for years to come.

Happy couples forgive easily

Something I’ve observed with unhappy couples who seem to be fighting all the time is their seeming inability to let go of things.

The reality is that holding a grudge breeds contempt in the long run and can only upset your partner. It can’t do anything else.

When your partner feels dismissed or criticised by you, they won’t ever feel closeness and safe being with you. And their natural reaction would be “defensiveness.” This defensiveness will play out in different ways, from stonewalling to completely withholding their love and affection.

Secrets of Happy Couples

Again, many couples (especially guys) would complain about the lack of physical intimacy in their relationship and would look for shortcuts to improve that.

What you need to understand is, however, physical intimacy is almost always the result of emotional intimacy; unless we’re talking about lust.

If your partner does not feel emotionally safe, secure and cherished by you (and this goes for men and women), romance and physical intimacy will typically suffer. And until you fix the emotional intimacy side of things, the physical will remain a problem.

Happy couples understand that everyone makes mistakes and everyone has a bad day once in a while. So they forgive quickly and easily and move on.

Unhappy couples hold onto things. And when you do this long enough, it tends to erode the very foundation of your relationship.

So my suggestion is, learn how to forgive quickly, don’t sweat the small stuff, and move on as soon as you can without holding a grudge.

Happy couples grow together and separately

If you want to keep improving the closeness you feel with your partner, you must try new things, see new places, meet new people, and have new and fun experiences together. That’s the key.

But, you also need to take the time to grow independently.

It’s important that you maintain your individuality, as a secure person in themselves can contribute more to a relationship.

Not just because they want to, but because they come from a place of self-confidence and feeling secure about themselves.

So, you can learn to surf while he learns how to paint.

You can go on a cruise together and enjoy certain activities together and others are part.

You can join a sports club and participate in different events.

Whatever you do, it’s important to do some new things together and others apart.

Happy couples empathise

When you’re taking on the world by yourself, you can afford to be a little more single-minded and selfish in your approach.

However, when you’re part of a couple, it’s important to consider the other’s feelings and point of view.

Empathy is the ability to see the world through someone else’s eyes.

Happy couples seem to have an almost natural ability to think about how their decisions (the ones they’re about to make) will impact their partner.

They don’t think from a selfish, self-serving perspective first, but from a relationship-centred perspective.

They always consider how any decision or action would impact their partner.

And it happens quite unconsciously and automatically.

Unhappy couples, on the other hand, give their partners very little thought in certain situations.

For example, say one partner is having a great time with his friends and it’s getting very late.

If he has a tendency to not even consider how staying out late, without letting his partner know, would impact her feelings, chances are they’re in an unhappy relationship.

Guys who are happily married almost always consider how their actions will impact their wives before they decide to do something. The same with a happily married woman.

Secrets of Happy Couples

Conversely, I’ve seen couples in the past who were completely oblivious to how their actions impact each other.

In fact, they were so oblivious to the fact that they couldn’t even see anything wrong with putting their own “fun” above their partner’s feelings. Hence, why they were in counselling in the first place.

If you want to rapidly improve the intimacy levels in your relationship, learn how to empathise with your partner.

Learn how to see situations through their eyes, or at least how your decisions might impact their feelings.

Developing this as a habit will surely serve your relationship and develop the closeness you desire with your partner long-term.

They will come to know that they can trust you because they know you always think of them first, no matter the situation or circumstances.

Happy couples make time for each other

Nowadays, it is so easy to get lost in all the distractions the modern-day world offers us.

In fact, you can be home physically but very far away emotionally or mentally.

We know however that happy couples have a natural tendency to want to spend time with each other, and therefore make time for each other.

As I said, it’s very easy to be busy with all sorts of things nowadays. The challenge, however, is prioritising your partner above all those things.

Again, you can justify why you’re distracted or absent with all sorts of excuses.

All I know is that your partner won’t understand. If you love somebody, you make time for them. It’s as simple as that. Doing anything else is nonsensical.

Secrets of Happy Couples

Fortunately, it’s so easy to split your time and attention between work, household duties, and the minutiae of life.

Learn from happy couples and ensure that you spend quality time with your partner each day in some way or another.

If you don’t make time, it’s too easy to suffer from a lack of time. Make this a priority in your life.

Happy couples focus more on their partner’s good qualities than their flaws

Does any of these sound familiar to you?

Does your spouse always leave the toilet seat up? What about leaving their clothes on the floor every time they get undressed? Does your partner leave the milk out of the fridge after they made coffee? Does he shower too long?  Does she leave the back door unlocked after she’s been outside and just forgets about it when she goes to bed?

Does it make you furious?

Now let me ask you: are any of these things deal breakers? Are they worth fighting over every single time? Or worse, are they worth you turning on your partner like a rabid dog?

Of course not.

Yet, that is what many unhappy couples do. They have an uncanny ability to turn any and every insignificant issue into a reason for relationship war. Even the smallest of things can be used for massive destruction.

Happy couples, on the other hand, find it very easy to pick their battles. One of the ways they do that is to always maintain the perspective of their partner being a person.

Firstly, they always remember their partner is, in fact, a person with feelings. And so they treat them as such.

Secondly, they always focus more on their partner’s good qualities than the few bad ones. And that makes them treat their partner completely differently from those who are in unhappy relationships.

Listen, I understand how easy it is to focus on a few negative traits and form strong negative emotions.

But if you’re serious about becoming happy as a couple, you must learn how to spend your time focusing on your partner’s positive qualities to allow your perception of them to change. As long as you maintain a negative perception of your partner, your reactions and words will always reflect that.

Happy couples listen to each other

It’s not always easy listening to a 10-minute story about buying a pair of shoes or the details of the winning try in the last test match between the All Blacks and the Springboks.

But if you want to develop deeper levels of intimacy with your partner, it’s absolutely necessary to show interest and give your full attention when your partner wants it most.

Once you stop listening, the other person stops communicating. The relationship is then on a downhill slide.

Fortunately, listening is a skill that anyone can master.

If I could give you just three (3) simple suggestions to vastly improve your listening skills, it would be these:

  • Be fully present (including eye contact).
  • Be truly curious and interested.
  • Ask questions (to understand and not interrogate).

Happy couples are very good at listening to each other. It’s not because it comes naturally but rather because they’ve made a decision to do so.

We live in a world where we are all constantly distracted and things are fighting for our attention. And having access to a world of knowledge through our smartphones at all times of the day doesn’t help.

Happy couples understand this and have simply developed very healthy habits of communication that bypass the realities of the modern-day world.

They put their phones down when they sense that their partner wants to tell them something very important.

They pause the Netflix movie and make eye contact and engage in active listening when their partner is in need of their attention.

Secrets of Happy Couples

Unhappy couples tend to be absorbed in their own worlds and place their own personal wants and desires above that of their partner’s. And over time this erodes their relationship and happiness.

I hope you hear what I’m trying to say here.

Last thoughts

Listen, your relationship can be a great source of happiness or grief. But it almost always comes down to a decision.

Your partner and you can create a relationship that brings happiness to your lives. Or, you can create a relationship that makes you miserable.

I challenge you to make time for each other and be willing to listen.

Find common interests that you can explore together. Also, remember to also make time for yourself.

Do these things and you’ll build your relationship each day.

If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

I’ll talk to you soon.

About the author

Gideon Hanekom

Gideon Hanekom is the creator of, a popular relationship blog that ranks among the top 50 relationship blogs in 2024. The website helps couples to create happier, healthier, and more intimate relationships. Gideon is a trained professional counsellor and holds post-graduate degrees in Theology and Psychology. His articles have also been featured on respected platforms such as and The Good Men Project.

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