Secrets to living happily ever after

Follow these tips for happiness long after “I do.”

As long as there are marriages, there will be those that work and those that don’t. Hollywood is not immune from such phenomena, so don’t look toward them as role-models. There are things you can do to ensure a healthy relationship, even through differences and difficulties. These are my tested tips that have helped countless couples in my practice.

Define a healthy marriage. If you wanted to open a coffee shop, would you model it after the dingy one on the corner or a thriving Starbucks? Rather than focus on botched relationships, look at what works.

Enter the marriage 100 percent committed — without the divorce option. In relationships that stand the test of time, couples are entirely focused on keeping it and doing what’s necessary to maintain it.
Disagreements are normal; they don’t mean the end of a relationship. Look at the big picture and ask yourself: Is it worth it to win the battle but lose the war? Accept certain things about your partner.
Sure, it may annoy you that she burns the toast — but in the end, does it really matter?
Focus on what binds you, not what separates you. You originally got together because of commonalities, not differences. Keep that focus while maintaining a sense of autonomy. The best relationships are those where he does his thing, she does hers, and then they come together and enjoy.

Take time out when there are arguments or fights. Rarely are issues resolved in the heat of battle, so walk away and agree to come together when things calm down.

Examine your intent. Is it to hurt the other person or work toward a compromise? Avoid absolute words such as “always” or “never,” as they seldom lead to a constructive conversation.

Plan a date night. Have it in place early in the week so you can look forward to it.

– Jonathan Alpert is a licensed psychotherapist. E-mail him your questions at jonathan@jonathanalpert.com


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