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Love well to live well

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Secrets of successful relationships

Studies show people in successful relationships are generally healthier and happier. So what's the secret?

Happy couples:

  • appreciate what their partners bring to their relationship
  • don't assume a good relationship is just going to happen magically
  • put the same amount of time and energy into their relationship as they put into other areas of their lives

Walk the walk

Happy couples remind one another of the reasons why they're together. Couple walking on the beachIf you want to be loved, treat your partner with love.

Show affection. Little habits, like kisses on the cheek or holding hands, can send big messages of love.

Be understanding. When your partner is worried or stressed, show your support by putting yourself in their shoes.

Be patient. Learn to accept your partner's unique qualities. Some things can't be changed, so learn ways to compromise.

Be thoughtful. Take out the trash or plan a special meal or date.

Talk the talk

How you talk to one another is at least as important as what you talk about. Happy couples:

  • participate in conversations. Show you care about what you're partner is saying by nodding, adding "uh-huhs," and looking directly into their eyes.
  • listen to one another. When you hear your partner's point of view before you disagree, you show that you're trying to see where they're coming from.
  • fight fair. Respond with respect. Losing control and getting emotional rarely helps to solve problems.

Learn more healthy communication skills.

Satisfying sex

Sometimes, a couple that's hit a rough patch believes that if they just have more sex, they'll recapture the magic in their relationship.

This belief can lead to less sex and more arguing, because one or both partners in the couple feels pressured into having sex. If the couple doesn't address underlying problems in the relationship, having sex becomes another issue to argue about. It's never acceptable to pressure someone into having sex, and it won't make a relationship better.

What can you do to improve your sex life? Good relationships — and good sex — depend upon good communication. Happy couples ask one another for what they want:

  • Do you want to make love now?
  • What turns you on?
  • Where do you like to be touched? How?
  • Does this feel good?

Want to find out what your partner wants? Trade top ten lists:

  • Make a list of your 10 favorite turn-ons.
  • Make a list of turn-offs.

On your lists, be specific and positive about what you like.

Less positiveMore positive
"I wish you'd be more affectionate with me.""I really like it when you kiss me when you come home."
"I hate it when you just lie there.""I like it when you climb on top of me."

After you've both talked about what you want, come up with a plan for adding your top tens into your activities.

After you've had sex, tell your partner what you liked about it, and what you'd like to do differently next time. It may take time to find what works for both of you, so agree to experiment for a while.

Source: "Health of Your Relationship after Valentine's Day" by Youmasu J. Siewe, Ph.D, MPH, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service

Reviewed by: Mark Groshek, MD, April 2014
Additional Kaiser Permanente reviewers

© 2014 Kaiser Permanente