By Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin for YourTango
Happiness in a relationship takes much more than luck. It takes a conscious daily effort to put healthy relationship habits into practice. Sounds simple, but that alone is very important marriage counseling advice.
If we had to make some generalizations about habits we see happier couples using, it would be the following 11 things:
1. They don't complain about their relationship to their friends or family.
Happy couples know that it's best not to involve others in their relationship. They talk directly to each other if an issue arises instead of consulting others who often may provide negative feedback that could hurt the relationship.
There is nothing wrong with healthy girl or guy time, but don't use it as an opportunity to complain about your spouse. If you don't apply this step, there will be too much negativity in your marriage.
2. They don't compare themselves to others.
Happy couples accept and love each other as is. They know that comparing to others is unrealistic (and unfair) and will leave them feeling insecure about their marriage.
If you do spend time with other couples and you even see better qualities in another spouse, stay confident and don't second-guess your choice. The grass isn't always greener on the other side -- even if it looks like it is.
3. They don't play the victim.
Happy couples take responsibility for their feelings and their role in the relationship. They don't blame each other for their problems.
They ask for what they need instead of wallowing in self-pity or blaming their spouse for their situation.
4. They don't take themselves too seriously.
Happy couples know happiness and fun. They "date" regularly and laugh a lot.
Even when life throws you a curveball and things are extremely stressful, keep things light and fun.
5. They don't criticize.
They look for the good in each other, and when they are upset, they learn how to ask for their needs in a sensitive way. Happy couples know that criticism only tears the other down and creates a rupture in their relationship.
If you're spouse is doing something that you don't like, pay attention to why it's bothering you and learn how to talk about it in a safe way.
6. They don't ignore their finances.
Happy couples know that financial stress puts pressure on a marriage. They stay on top of their money and are in communication about their financial goals so that they can make responsible decisions for their future together.
If money is a topic you would rather not discuss, know that avoiding it will make money matters worse.
7. They don't try to read minds.
We all know what people say about someone who assumes. Happy couples know how to communicate so that they're aware of each other's needs and feelings.
No matter how connected they feel, they don't expect their spouse to know what they want or how they are feeling. They spell it out clearly. If you are not getting the attention you need, tell your partner.
8. They don't overshare.
Happy couples know that sharing their frustrations are for the purpose of getting their needs met and achieving greater connection.
They are intentional about when they share and ask their spouse if it is a good time instead of catching them off-guard, unleashing their upset, and fueling the fire of greater conflict. If you have something to get off your chest, first ask, "I'd like to share something with you. Is now a good time?"
9. They don't obsess over their roles.
Even if they have stereotypical gender roles in their relationship, happy couples are flexible and are able to do necessary tasks immediately -- even if it's not their forté.
So even if your wife is typically the one to get dinner on the table, if she can't tonight, you can easily step-in without a fuss and relieve her of her responsibility.
10. They don't nag each other.
Happy couples encourage each other instead of pressuring. They find ways to support each other and that support is a natural motivator as opposed to nagging which often backfires.
If your husband is out of work, instead of nagging him to go on job interviews, try to raise his morale with your love and support, even if it seems scary. Your genuine encouragement and trust in him will motivate him to move forward.
11. They don't pay attention to Hollywood's portrayal of marriage.
Happy couples give no credence to the stereotypical putdowns of husbands and wives that are often featured in pop culture. They love each other and don't belittle, disrespect, or poke fun at each other like they may see on TV or film.
If you're not already aware of how common it is to treat marriage as a punchline, begin to notice the subtle (and not so subtle) messages about marriage you encounter on a daily basis.
This article originally appeared on YourTango.