This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Australia, which closed in 2021.

Five Things Happy Couples Do Every Single Day

More compliments, less nitpicking.
Time to bring back the butterflies.
Time to bring back the butterflies.

There is something undeniably heartwarming about seeing an elderly couple sit together smiling, as if they've got the whole world in each other's hands. Equally, the same goes for a younger couple, high on life and drunk on the possibility of what's still to come.

Whether it's old love, new love or love that's blossomed later, these couples make doing life together look so simple.

On the other hand, we all know the couple that constantly fight and have no qualms telling you about it. Which can make for awkward table chat at group outings when said couple are besties again -- but hey -- you've learnt to put it down to them just being them.

Relationship counsellor and psychologist Jacqui Manning explains many couples get into this subconscious "one upmanship" scenario, where each partner is waiting for the other to slip up.

"It creates a toxic environment and the worst part is, they often don't realise they're doing it," Manning told The Huffington Post Australia.

They've forgotten what it's like to compliment each other and that every disagreement doesn't need to turn into an argument. The good news? Getting out of this negative place is possible, with time and a little effort.

"Happiness in a relationship is the result of much more than just luck -- it's something that requires effort from both sides of the partnership consistently, particularly during times of stress," Manning said.

1. They keep it real

The first sign of a healthy relationship is the level of kindness present when a couple talk to each other.

"They are honest with each other and that means saying the good things but also, the bad. They can be critical of each other but at no stage does the love or respect feel like it's gone," Manning said.

2. They focus on the good

They're always looking at what their partner did right and they're certainly not out to get each other.

"Acknowledging your partner can go a long away and it really doesn't take much effort at all," Manning said.

Whether your partner cooks you dinner unexpectedly or does something small like hang out the washing, Manning said acknowledging and thanking them not only creates feel-good chemicals (which helps with the connection) but it also lets your partner know they're doing something you really like and lets them know they can do it again.

They acknowledge the little things.
They acknowledge the little things.

3. They make their time together count

Some couples will have loads of time to spend with each other, while others may have young kids and hectic work schedules, but it's about making the time you have together "connected time," Manning explains.

"Try to take the phone and laptops are away so you're looking at each other, or even if you're engaged in doing something together like watching a movie or the TV," Manning said.

Obviously couples have disagreements, that's part of life but it doesn't always have to turn into an argument.

"Things can get stretched as life gets busy but you can still maintain that connection even if it's a five-minute conversation at the end of the day, that's still better than nothing. And it's important to know it's not going to be like that forever," Manning said.

4. They pick their battles

"Obviously couples have disagreements, that's part of life but it doesn't always have to turn into an argument," Manning said.

The first step is always awareness, so if you notice you're niggling at every little thing, try to remember you're not perfect either.

"If something really bothers you, it's important to talk about it. But don't nitpick over every little thing. It only creates a toxic environment where everything someone is doing is perceived as wrong, and people give up trying when it's like that," Manning said.

'Intimacy doesn't always have to mean sex.'
'Intimacy doesn't always have to mean sex.'

5. They prioritise intimacy

"This doesn't always have to mean sex. But sex is an important part of the puzzle, and that means being aware and talking to your partner about your own sex drive and needs," Manning said.

Manning recommends having this conversation outside the bedroom, where people don't feel quite so vulnerable.

"This conversation can be about finding other ways to be intimate too, for example, you might spend time lying naked together and being connected and intimate that way," Manning said.

Basically, whether one partner has a higher sex drive than the other, healthy couples are patient with each other and make a conscious, persistent effort not to sweep it under the carpet because they understand it's important not to let things go if you are unhappy.

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