Ah, love! It can seem hard to find, but the truth it, the hardest part is keeping it.
It’s easy to be in love when you have rose-colored glasses and butterflies in your stomach.
But what about a few months down the line, when reality and daily life sets in? Some couples are able to stay madly in love over time, while others see their spark slowly fade away.
If you look closely, you’ll notice the first type of couple practices certain habits that help them stay in love.
Now, we’re going to take a look at what these are, so that you too can keep the romance in your relationship burning strong.
1) They show gratitude
If you’re invested in personal growth, you’ve surely already heard the incredible benefits of gratitude.
Helping you and your partner stay madly in love is one of them.
When you take the time to express to your significant other what you appreciate about them, science shows you’ll both feel happier.
They’ll feel more positive towards you, and you’ll also both feel more comfortable expressing concerns about your relationship.
Because let’s face it — even the happiest couples go through challenges. What sets them apart is that they communicate openly, work on them together, and continue to notice the positive.
My boyfriend and I have started a daily practice of sharing 3 things we appreciated from the day, and I can say I definitely feel the benefits of this.
2) They try new things together
At the beginning of a relationship, everything can feel super exciting. But eventually, things settle down into a routine.
Perhaps a boring routine.
But couples who stay madly in love don’t let this happen. They continue to find new things to try together.
This helps keep the relationship interesting, and helps you grow together as you experience new things.
The best thing about this habit is that it can lead to some pretty awesome date ideas: trying new cuisine, going on a road trip, or trying your hand at a new sport.
Not sure what you can try together? Make a fun date night out of brainstorming as many ideas as you can come up with!
3) They cultivate the same values and vision
If shared interests are not important to relationship happiness, what do you actually have to have in common?
One important thing you should share with your partner are your values and your vision for the future.
This is what helps you function together in sync, and also keeps you both going in the same direction, rather than pulling each other onto different paths. And, it helps keeps you happy together.
To illustrate, I know a couple who got along extremely well and loved each other a lot. However, one of them was very invested in eco-friendly living and a life of traveling and freedom, while the other one worked in a factory and had hardly traveled outside of his hometown.
Even though they never had conflicts, they eventually found themselves drifting far apart even as they lived together.
So if you want to help you and your partner stay madly in love, make a habit out of talking openly about your values and vision, and seeing how you can align them.
4) They stay kind to one another
A lot of people tend to think that the most important thing in happy relationships is sharing interests or hobbies.
But that’s a huge misconception.
The Gottman institute has shown that it’s not what you do together that matters. Rather, it’s how you interact.
“Any activity can drive a wedge between two partners if they’re negative toward each other. It doesn’t matter whether two people both enjoy kayaking if, when they head out on the lake, one says, “That’s not how you do a J-stroke, you idiot!”
Instead, it’s more telling to look at the ratio of positive to negative interactions. Couples who stay madly in love have at least 20 positive interactions for every negative one.
I first read this a couple years ago, and I was in a pretty turbulent relationship at the time.
I remember tallying up our positive intersections on a piece of paper, hoping to hit this ratio, but we could barely reach 5 to 1. Sure enough, that relationship ended.
5) They invest in their own happiness
You may get the impression from social media that the best couples are the ones who are always doing everything together.
“Love and travel” influencers especially spread this idea.
But you don’t need to feel bad if you need alone time away from your partner. In fact, this is another habit of couples who stay madly in love.
The truth is, relationships are no guarantee of happiness. On the contrary, you have to be a happy person in order to make a happy relationship.
So naturally, the couples who are the happiest together are made of people who would also be able to be happy on their own.
Even when they are together, they continue to give each other space to invest in their hobbies and what makes them happy.
6) They spend quality time together
Another habit of couples who stay madly in love is spending quality time together.
This might seem obvious — if you don’t spend time together, then how can you call it a relationship?
But it’s important to differentiate between quality time and just being in the same physical space.
In particular, what makes the difference is sharing your attention and connecting on an emotional level. Even watching the same movie together counts.
What matters most is that you feel connected to your partner and you give this time only and completely to them.
I can see this clearly in my parents, who have made a habit of always sharing their morning coffee while chatting, and then watching an episode or two of a series together after work.
They’re definitely one of the most loving couples I know, so they must be doing a lot of things right!
7) They stay emotionally responsive
What does that mean?
Basically, it’s about having your partner notice and respond to your feelings. When you’re upset, they feel concerned and ask what’s wrong. When you’ve overwhelmed with a ton of work, they say, “let me help.”
These are the little ways in which you show each other, every day, that you’re there for each other, and emotionally tuned in.
8) They forgive each other
We’d all like to have a relationship where we never disappoint our partner, and they never disappoint us.
But alas, that’s not how life works. Its very point seems to be dealing with one problem after the next, and our relationships are not immune to this.
It’s completely normal that two different people, with different upbringings, opinions, and perceptions, will occasionally clash or have misunderstandings.
Even if they never post it on social media, you can be sure that even the most lovey-dovey couple still has disagreements and feels upset with one another.
That’s why forgiveness is such an important habit for couples who stay madly in love.
One of my favorite Netflix series, Bridgerton, had a heartwarming scene that illustrated this so well. The main character told her mother, “You and father were so beautiful together.”
And the mother responded, “We had trials too. But we chose to love each other every single day.”
9) They continue to try to make each other happy
I’m sure you know of at least one couple where one of them complained, “you used to do XYZ for me. Why don’t you ever do it anymore?”
We all fall pray to this at one point. We start the relationship with great intentions to do all sorts of things for each other, partially because of the powerful hormones we feel, and also because we’re on our best behavior.
But as we fall into the routine we mentioned above, these intentions slip away and we stop doing things for each other.
If you’ve watched This Is Us, you may remember this powerful quote:
“You want to know why my marriage ended, Jack? For as long as I can remember I’ve woken up at 6:30 everyday and made Shelly coffee. And then one day, I woke up and made my coffee, and I just didn’t feel like making Shelly one. And the worst part is, she didn’t even notice.”
Though it’s just a series, it’s a very real and sad outcome for many couples.
If you want to avoid it, then the first step is to be honest with yourself about what you can promise to do for your partner.
Don’t sign yourself up for habits that you can’t follow through on — and remember the value of sticking to the ones that you can.
Relationships are complex, and there are many different factors that contribute to helping couples stay madly in love.
But if you can follow at least some of these heart-warming habits, you’ll be on the right track.
It can be overwhelming to try to take up all up at once, so I recommend picking one and becoming super comfortable with it before adding another.
My personal favorites are gratitude and forgiveness — but no matter which ones you pick, I’m sure your relationship will thank you for it.