• On Good Things Utah this morning – Happy marriages seem to equal a happy heart, with studies showing that the absence of marital stress typically leads to better cardiovascular health outcomes. If it’s built on trust, honesty and compassion, you’ve got a good chance at a long-lasting relationship—but how you regularly interact with your partner matters too. That’s why it’s important to highlight some of the small things happy couples do. As a therapist, I’ve seen a lot of the habits firsthand that make a big difference. In today’s dating world, where swiping right equals a potential love connection, establishing a solid foundation for a relationship has gotten more complicated. After the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple organizations reported increases in intimate partner violence and unhealthy relationships.
  • On top of this, being in an unhealthy relationship has more consequences than you might think. Research shows that marital conflict can cause longer recovery times for heart attacks, a slower wound-healing process, and worsened physical and mental health. While you don’t have to be the perfect partner daily, prioritizing caring for your partner is one step toward nurturing a strong, long-lasting bond with them. However, you must do this with intention. So what small things do happy, healthy couples always do to keep their love and connection thriving? Let’s dive in.
      • Have check-in periods
        Have you ever wondered what your partner was thinking and either assumed or never asked about it? It probably caused problems or something worse. Having regular check-in periods with your partner eliminates the awkward conflict that comes with assuming that your relationship is fine, but it’s really not. These check-ins also help you develop emotional intelligence, giving you more insight into how to appropriately approach and handle problems—changing your mindset from “me” to “we.”
      • Show gratitude
        Expressing appreciation and gratitude to your partner is vital to maintaining a solid foundation in your relationship. It’s even more critical for long-term, committed relationships or marriage. By showing your partner you’re thankful for what they do for you, you encourage healthy, open and positive communication. But did you know it also boosts your mood and health? A 2021 Harvard Health study shows that gratitude increased the positive feelings that partners had toward each other. However, simply saying “thank you” isn’t enough to make this happen. Small acts of kindness like making your partner a cup of coffee, packing their lunch for work or helping them with a project are all examples of going beyond expressing verbal gratitude.
      • Remember each other’s favorite things
        It’s a Monday, and you’ve had a long, stressful day at work. You walk in the door and notice your partner has bought your favorite flowers and ordered Chinese takeout, a meal that always makes you feel better. Remembering each other’s favorite things is one of the smallest yet most effective ways that happy, healthy couples participate in their relationships. When you take the initiative to pay attention to even minuscule things brought up in casual conversation, it lets your partner know you’re thinking of them even when they aren’t aware.
      • Support their dreams, goals and aspirations
        Being in a committed relationship means signing up to support your partner in life. While you’d think this would be an expected priority in relationships, we typically view goals and aspirations as individual pursuits rather than ones we do with others. But when you support your partner in their dreams, goals or aspirations, it demonstrates your commitment to their happiness and personal growth and that you genuinely care about their future. The Gottman Institute, founded by relationship experts John and Julie Gottman, speaks about this in a blog post featured in their archive of resources, stating, “The opportunity to be an active participant in your partner’s life dreams is a truly amazing opportunity to foster connections, find shared meaning, and create memories of trust, fondness, and appreciation.”
      • Talk about finances
        Money is one of the most common reasons why married couples get divorced. Contributing to almost half of all divorces in the U.S., it’s clear that finances are a point of contention in relationships. The more you can talk about money with your partner, the better because it builds trust and helps you both create a healthy financial mindset. It’s also a great topic to bring up during a weekly check-in.
  • We hope you tune in for this Hot Topic and more this morning on Good Things Utah!