You know those long-married couples who sit in Chinese restaurants in silence, never speaking a word to one another? The good news: It doesn't have to be like that. Here are nine ways happy couples keep their flames alive -- yes, even after years of togetherness:
1. They keep speaking the same unspoken language.
That couple at the Chinese restaurant who don't talk to each other? It's because they've lost their couple's language. Every happy couple has one and we are fairly certain that long before they discovered Kung Pao chicken, they had one too. A couple's language is when you know the things your partner would find hurtful and never say them. It's also when you hear the unspoken as clearly as the spoken -- like when your partner says "No, it's fine, really" but you know what she's really saying is "This is making me unhappy."
2. They still surprise one another.
Surprise is the best spice in the relationship casserole. Whether it's getting flowers at the office for no reason or being told to show up at the airport with just your toothbrush, surprises tell your partner you were thinking about them, missing them, and that he or she is important to you.
3. They understand that it's OK to do nothing for an entire weekend as long as their partner is with them.
There are times when figuring out what to watch on Netflix and ordering a pizza is even too labor intensive for your current level of energy. Happy couples can just be. Being. No more active a verb could describe it. They can be in separate rooms, on separate floors, even one inside and one outside; it doesn't matter. They sense the other's presence and nothing becomes something. They are not bored. They are not lonely. Because their mate is "there."
4. They still recognize their partners with all five senses.
Of course they see them and can pick out their voice in a crowded room. But they also know their scent, their touch and the taste of their kisses. All should be familiar, all should make your heart do a little happy flutter.
5. They don't play hurtful games with their partner.
They don't belittle one another for sport. They don't go out with friends for the sole purpose of bad-mouthing their mate. They've learned that hurting their partner actually devastates them. They know that their partner has the power to make them happy and conversely, make them deeply unhappy. Their partners know this too, and never abuse it.
6. They understand that no one needs to be always right.
They don't care who's right because they and their partner are both on the same side and a win is a victory for the team. Team You Two.
7. They never let their partner's "stuff" annoy them to the point of rage.
Dirty socks on the floor are just that. They are not an act of insult that says "I think of you as the maid." They aren't even "My mother did this for my dad, so why does it bother you so much?" No, it's more like "Oh. Are those my socks? Yes, you're right they are. Gee, how did they get there?" Bottom line: Don't sweat the small stuff.
8. They understand how to compromise without being compromised.
A long happy relationship doesn't require one person to submit to the wishes of the other and then call it a day. That's the path to resentment, not a long life together. Everyone can have their own things and things they come together over.
9. It's always about the truth.
Face the truth. Tell the truth. Accept the truth. Remember Rod Stewart singing about looking to find a reason to believe? If you have to look for it, it's not there.
Truth is the foundation for love. And start by being true to yourself.
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