What do happy couples have in common? Why are some couples still in a satisfying relationships after 50+ years and others cannot make it through a year together?

There is some research that suggests that the wife being thinner and better looking than her husband makes for a more satisfying relationship. It is not that only skinny women have lasting or happy marriages, but rather that relationships where wives are thinner than their husbands appear to last longer and are more satisfying. It may be that taking care of yourself, whether you are male or female, increases confidence and self-esteem, making one feel more attractive and appear more attractive to their partner.

Other research suggests a correlation between the willingness of the husband to help with housework and increased relationship satisfaction. This may reduce the tension and stress in the home and create more opportunity and desire to spend quality time together. Researchers have also found a link between smiling childhood photos and marital satisfaction. So couples whose childhood photo albums are full of smiling pictures may make some of the happiest couples. It is very possible that having a positive outlook on life increases one's chances of being part of a happy couple. Perhaps happier, lasting relationships are those where the wife has not read Fifty Shades of Grey and avoids watching too many romantic comedies. Reading Fifty Shades of Grey, like watching romantic comedies may create unrealistic expectations and focus attention on what is missing in the relationship, leading to dissatisfaction.

Attitude is probably the biggest predictor of happy, lasting relationships. Gratitude is the easiest way to achieve an attitude adjustment. The challenge is to begin appreciating what you have and paying attention to what is great about your partner and your relationship. Be grateful for who they are and the relationship that you have, rather than focusing on a romantic illusion. Our behavior also greatly affects our attitude. When we choose to behave lovingly, especially when we least feel like it, loving feelings tend to follow those loving thoughts and actions. A sense of humor is a great way to release tension and improve attitude. It is however important to learn to laugh at the situation and at yourself, rather than laughing at your partner.

According to Dan Gilbert, we have the ability to synthesize happiness; meaning we have the ability to choose to be happy with our relationship and with our partner. In his TED talk on The Surprising Science of Happiness, he discussed his research, with the Monet prints, which indicated that people who were given no option of exchanging their print were more satisfied with their choice than those who were offered the freedom to exchange their print at any time. I wonder if this same principle applies to relationships. As a counsellor, I have observed many clients teetering on the fence trying to decide if they would be happier in or out of their relationships. I have also observed others who in spite of difficulties in their relationships do not see leaving as an option. From my observations I would say that the second group, those who see no option of exchanging their relationship, tend to be more satisfied with their relationship than the fence sitters. I would suggest that commitment is also a key element for happy couples.

Happy couples tend to be committed to their relationships, use humor wisely, feel and express gratitude, focus on the positive, and take care of themselves.

Author's Bio: 

Susan Derry, B.Ed., M.S.Psy., R.P.C., C.P.C.
Professional Counselor & Life Coach

Co-author of Marriage Prep: Beginnings a downloadable marriage preparation course
Co-author of Intimate Sex: Manual for Lovemaking, a sex manual for couples
Offers a free Nurturing Marriage Ezine