It’s easy to see a happy couple you know and feel a little jealous over the fact that they seem to have it all figured out. If you’ve been going through ups and down with your significant other, you can’t help but wonder how you both manage to keep messing things up. The reality is, there’s no such thing as a perfect couple or relationship. As surprising as it may seem, experts say, there are several mistakes couples make when they are happy.
“Mistakes are not only OK, they are good for you,” licensed marriage and family therapist, Sara Stanizai, tells Bustle. “There are some things we only learn ‘the hard way,’ which is to say, through conflict and resolution of that conflict.” Learning about your partner’s childhood or favorite movies is as simple as asking a question. But deep rooted things like fears, anxieties, embarrassments, and regrets, are things Stanizai says you can’t easily learn from typical “happy” moments. If you can successfully overcome challenges together, your relationship is more likely to last.
According to Stanizai, true happiness in a relationship is when each person can take care of themselves and chooses to take care of the other. “They do not put the partner first, they put themselves first and choose every day to be there for the other person out of free will, not obligation or co-dependency,” she says. “Healthy relationships can tolerate conflict, and each individual person is able to meet their own needs. They don’t ‘need’ their partner, they ‘want’ them.”
If your relationship is going through some tough times, that’s OK. That’s doesn’t make you or your relationship a failure in any way. It’s necessary if you want a healthy long-term relationship at the end of it all. So here are some surprising mistakes happy couples are more likely to make, according to experts.
1. Getting Too Comfortable
“The mistake that nearly every couple makes is really easy to recognize, but is often only noticed in retrospect,” Maigen Thomas, relationship coach, tells Bustle. “We all tend to get in a groove in our relationships and reach a point where we can start ‘relaxing’ a little bit. That groove, if it goes without notice, becomes a rut.” This is that point in the relationship where you’re super content because you’re comfortable. To be fair, there’s nothing wrong with being comfortable. It’s better than having to go through a rollercoaster of ups and down. But relationships need to be nurtured. In short, Thomas says, don’t get lazy. “The solution is to tighten the feedback loop and open up the communication early,” she says. “For instance, my partner and I check in every Friday. We verbally recommit to the relationship and talk openly about any things that need to be addressed from the week. It gives us an opportunity to speak frankly about things that might bother us, and removes the chance to let things fester.” Keep communicating and keep finding ways to fall for each other over and over again every single day. You may think you’re happy now, but who knows what your relationship will be like if you make it a point to really put a lot of effort into it everyday.