It seems like a happy relationship should come naturally when you’re with the right person, but that’s not true. Relationships require work. Happy couples have to maintain their relationships every day with love and care, but it’s not as daunting of a task as it may seem. There’s no real “secret” to having a happy relationship, but there are things you can do to make it all come more easily. Try to integrate these habits into your daily life and see how much happier your relationship can be.

1. Go to bed at the same time.

I used to think it was silly to want to go to bed at the same time as my partner, but it does wonders for your relationship! If one of us stays up later than the other, our whole evening feels off. There’s something cozy about sliding under the covers together, talking about what happened during the day or what’s on the list for tomorrow. My fiancé works the night shift, and without realizing it, my schedule also changed until I was a night owl, doing my freelance work during the late hours while he was at his job. When he came home early in the morning, I’d go to bed with him just to get that connection you can only get from sleeping and waking up together.

2. Cultivate common interests.

It’s important to keep your own hobbies when you’re part of a couple, of course, because you want to stay true to yourself and not change your personality. But you and your partner can cultivate common interests without changing who either of you are, and it will make your relationship stronger as a result. I love reading and writing, which are typically solitary hobbies, but my fiancé doesn’t hesitate to grab a book and sit next to me on the couch, or he’ll write a story too, and we can give each other feedback. He loves painting, and I can hardly draw a stick figure, but when he asks me to help him with a painting, I love to try and do my best with bright streaks of color. As a result, we’ve both found that it doesn’t matter what you do together (or in the case of my painting attempts, how well you do it), just that you’re doing enjoyable things together.

3. Walk hand in hand.

My hatred of hand-holding started in elementary school, when you had to hold hands with a buddy so you wouldn’t get lost on a field trip. Since then, I’ve never held hands with anyone and not gotten immediately sweaty palms. It’s one of the worst feelings! With my partner, though, I love holding hands. It makes me feel so happy and connected to him just to hold hands as we walk through the neighborhood, or even around the grocery store. Even if we don’t hold hands, we keep pace and walk side by side. I find that more often than not, my hand either finds his, or I slide my arm around his waist. There’s something really nice about walking perfectly in step with your partner.

4. Make trust and forgiveness your default mode.

It’s so easy to fight about stupid nothings and hold a grudge, but that’s not the way to be happy in a relationship. You have to forgive your partner after a fight, even if it’s something major. You might feel like they’ve betrayed your trust, but if you don’t give them another chance, then your relationship can never feel natural again. There will always be a rift because you don’t trust your partner, and feel like any time your back is turned, they’ll be doing something hurtful. On the other side, your partner won’t feel loved in the relationship because they’ll have never gotten your full forgiveness. Let your heart love easier by truly forgiving and honestly trusting your partner.

5. Focus on what your partner does right, not wrong.

No one likes a nit-pick! Don’t chastise your partner every time you think they do something wrong. There are nice ways to inform someone if they hurt your feelings, or to correct them if they do something in a bad way. But instead of yelling at your partner for breaking a plate, thank them for washing the dishes for you—hey, soap makes things slippery! Your partner will appreciate that you’re seeing the positive things they’re bringing to the relationship, and being more positive and complimentary will make you feel better than being negative all the time.

6. Hug each other when you see each other after work.

This one is easy—who doesn’t want to melt into a comforting hug after a hard day? And if you had a good day, share your excitement with a hug. You can’t beat ‘em. And once you start hugging, you’ll feel so much happier that you’ll find it easier to make time to cuddle with your partner instead of getting stressed by the things you need to get done around the house.

7. Say “I love you” and “Have a good day” every morning.

Another easy tip! Saying sweet words to each other is never a waste of breath. My fiancé and I say “I love you” any time we part—whether it’s on the phone, when he leaves for work, when I run an errand. It makes you feel much happier, and is always a good note to end on when you go about your days.

8. Say “Good night” every night, regardless of how you feel.

Same with “Have a good day,” saying “Good night” when you and your partner go to bed puts a nice, loving haze on the end of the day. My fiancé and I have a nightly routine we say before falling asleep. I won’t reveal it here because it’s special to us, but it includes “Good night,” “I love you,” and other nice phrases that make you feel good and inspire sweet dreams!

9. Do a “weather” check during the day.

A “weather” check is where you call your partner during the day to see how they are. A caring phone call or text can really brighten their day and show them that you’re thinking of them. As an added bonus, it gives you a heads up about how their day is going. If they’re having a tough time, you can curb your happiness about a work promotion and be more sympathetic as soon as you get home. You can tailor your attitude to make them feel that much better when you both get home.

10. Be grateful for what you have.

This is the simplest tip of all, because if you’re in a relationship, you clearly value your partner. Be thankful that you have someone you love who loves you back. Be thankful that they help you with household chores and support you during tough times and cheer you on during the good times. Look at your partner as much as you can and just smile that you have them by your side.

Featured photo credit: Ganesha Balunsat via flickr.com

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