Seven Habits of Happy Couples

Habits of Highly Happy Couples: 7 Secrets Happy Couples Know

What do happy couples know that others don’t? It turns out, highly happy couples are not happy by accident. They have a love-bank filling secret.  Keep reading to discover the seven habits of highly happy couples.

Understanding the Love-Bank

It was a lazy Saturday afternoon. I was in my mid-twenties and lived in a one-bedroom condo I had purchased earlier that year. I don’t remember why I was rummaging through the “junk drawer” in my kitchen. I might have been cleaning, or I could have been looking for something. What I do remember clearly, is the feelings that slammed into me next.

It was a mixture of fear, embarrassment, and frustration. My heart leaped into my through when I realized the mistake I had made. In this drawer, I discovered checkbooks for two different accounts. One was linked to my current bank. The second checkbook was connected to an account I had closed earlier that year.

If I had been smart, I would have destroyed the old checks after closing the account… but I didn’t. And I bet you can guess which account I had been writing checks out of all week!

I felt foolish.

How could someone responsible enough to buy their own condo make such an absurd mistake? I wondered.

This particular bank charged a hefty fee for each over-drafted purchase. I had written no less than five checks on this closed account. I was in trouble!

Fixing My Mistake

My lazy Saturday afternoon turned into a scramble. I scurried to the bank, explained my predicament, and, luckily, could re-open my old account before too much damage was done.

To this day, I remember the gut-wrenching feeling that came after discovering I was using an empty account. It’s an experience I never want to have again.

As bad as having an overdrawn bank account is, overdrawing from our spouse’s love-bank is even more destructive. According to The Bonded Family, 48% of all first marriages will end in divorce. Before the end of a relationship comes emptiness, hurt, anger, and despair. Divorce is the final destination of couples who have amassed a painful, love-bank, debt.

Happy couples keep each other’s love-bank filled. A previous post examined 51 creative, love bank filling ideas. However, these strategies are only the beginning. In fact, these love-bank filling strategies can best be thought of as jumper cables. They are an excellent tool for giving your relationship an extra boost.

The Love-Bank Filling Secret

The secret to keeping our spouses love-bank full isn’t found in creative, one-time actions–though they are a great place to start. Instead, the love-bank filling secret of happy couples is all about having the right attitude. William Glasser, the founder of choice theory and an incredibly effective therapist, identified seven caring habits. Couples who develop these habits fill each other’s love banks naturally–often without either person realizing that it is happening.

What I love about these habits is that each of them aligns with a Biblical world view. I have a friend who likes to say, “God said it first.” You see, the best tools and techniques that psychology has to offer are often a rediscovery of key, Biblical principles that have been ignored. This is certainly true of Glasser’s seven habits. Listed below, you will find the seven love bank-filling habits, of happy couples, along with Scriptures highlighting the importance of each quality.

The Seven Habits of Happy Couples

1. Happy couples are supporting.

Hebrews 10:24 says, “Let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works. Happy couples cheer each other on. They strive to be one another’s biggest fan.

seven habits of happy couples

2. Happy couples are encouraging.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need.” Control theory seeks to change the other person. It shames, blames, and tears down. Happy couples use choice theory language. They have an attitude of encouragement.

3. Happy couples listen.

Listening is much more than being able to parrot back the last words that came out of your partner’s mouth. Deep, heartfelt listening requires energy and effort. Couples who practice this habit put James 1:19 into action. This passage says, “Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.”

4. Happy Couples are accepting.

Jesus modeled the ultimate act of acceptance. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God accepts you as is, warts and all. You and I would be wise to follow His lead. We do this by accepting our spouse right where he or she is at.

seven habits of happy couples

5. Happy Couples are trusting.

Proverbs 28:20 says, “A faithful person will have an abundance of blessings.” Happy couples build trust. They fill each other’s love-banks by being faithful in the little things, day after day. Faithfulness builds trust. In marriage, it leads to an abundance of blessings.

6. Happy couples show respect

Ephesians 5:33 proclaims the value of love and respect within a marriage. In his book, Love and Respect, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs proposes that men thrive when given respect. There can be no doubt that treating your spouse with respect is a valuable, love-bank filling habit.

7. Happy couples negotiate differences.

Proverbs 21:9 states, “It is better to live on a corner of the housetop than in a house in company with a quarrelsome wife.” I’m sure that the same thing could be said about a quarrelsome husband. In college, therapists are taught about a peruse-flee dynamic. This harmful pattern is present in many relationships. It happens when one partner longs for the conflict to end, and the other keeps pressing. The results are never pretty. Don’t let quarrels fester. Find a way to negotiate differences, and move on. Happy couples become experts at finding win-win solutions.

You have probably noticed that the seven qualities of happy couples are not one-time strategies but ongoing attitudes. Couples who integrate these habits into their lives are making continual deposits into their spouses’ love-bank. It is the best way to make sure one’s account is never overdrawn.

Continue the Conversation

Now it’s your turn. Keep the conversation going with these questions for further reflection and discussion.

  • Which love-bank filling habits you are already practicing?
  • Which habits are an area of growth for you?
  • What habits of highly happy couples would you add to this list?
  • Are there any other secrets happy couples should know?

I’d love to hear from you. Now it’s your turn to keep the conversation going in the comments below!

P.S. If you enjoyed learning about these seven habits of happy couples, and would like to dive deeper into choice theory principles, William Glasser’s book, Eight Lessons for a Happier Marriage, is an excellent place to start.

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Jed Jurchenko

Jed Jurchenko is the husband to an incredible wife, daddy to four amazing girls, and a foster dad to one more. He's served as a children's pastor, marriage and family therapist, psychology professor, award-winning writing coach, and life coach. Jed is the author of 23 books on relationships, parenting, writing, and doing life well. In his free time, you'll find Jed reading, preparing for an upcoming marathon, barbecuing, paddle boarding, and enjoying life with his incredible family. Find out more about Jed's books, coaching, and courses at www.ithrive320.com.

8 thoughts on “Habits of Highly Happy Couples: 7 Secrets Happy Couples Know”

  1. Your analogy was spot on. For me there are times when filling the tank up are easy and times when it is hard. My wife loves quality time and when things get busy it can be mich harder to do. Mutual respect has been ingrained in my wife and I since day one along with trust and commitment and those have made a huge difference.

    1. Thanks Jeremy,
      Jenny & I can relate. It’s a challenge to stay connected with all of the business of life. It sounds like you guys have a solid foundation in place!

  2. Hey, Jed. I am not yet “a couple.” So I don’t have specifics to add in that regard. But seeing that your next post was about “miserable couples,” I thought I’d try a little exercise here and reverse the principles from your post. Maybe it will provide additional food for thought for some people to see it this way:

    1. (Un)happy couples are self-centered, too involved in their own lives to notice or care about the things that are important to the other person.

    2. (Un)happy couples are discouraging, continually focusing on flaws and shortcomings rather than on strengths and successes.

    3. (Un)happy couple are too busy to listen; are often distracted by work, phones or television rather than focusing full attention on one another; or interrupt often while the other person is speaking with sighs or forms of “Yeah, but …”

    4. (Un)happy couples continue to change one another to fit unrealistic ideals rather than affirming their love for one another just as they are.

    5. (Un)happy couples are distrustful of one another, questioning answers already given multiple times, asking friends or acquaintances on the DL to verify what each tells the other, and are not willing to be emotionally open.

    6. (Un)happy couples disrespect one another with constant criticism, belittling, sarcasm, lateness and dismissive attitudes if they feel the other’s goals or emotions don’t align with their own.

    7. (Un)happy couples demand getting their own way, regardless of the costs.

    1. Well done Erik! These are great and incredibly close to what William Glasser listed too. Especially that first one, “Unhappy couples are self-centered.” These lists are built upon the premise that happy couples don’t try to change the other person. Instead, they focus on the positive actions that they can take. On the other hand, unhappy couples try to change each other. It’s a selfish, “I need my significant other to do_________ for me, and if her or she does not, then I need to find a way to pressure him or her into doing it,” type of attitude.

      You’ll see from the miserable couples list, that selfishness really is at the core. But this isn’t just for dating and married couples, it really applies to all relationships. Glasser suggested that in our closest connections, we accept people as they are, and don’t try to force them into being someone they are not. It’s when we insist that the other person must act in a certain way, that our friendship is in trouble. Your fist point sums up miserable couples. A self-centered attitude, is at the core of all seven.

      While I think that relationships are dynamic, and there are almost always a few exceptions to every rule, I see this as a excellent, foundational principle. I know that in my own friendships, and marriage, insisting that others act in a certain way, and trying to pressure them to do so, is almost always a recipe for trouble 🙂

      1. You’ve touched upon something addition here, Jed: “… insisting that others act in a certain way, and trying to pressure them to do so …”

        The key word there is “act.” One of the chapters in my book has this central advice: “You can’t demand respect; you have to earn it.” Another has this: “Clipped weeds soon return.” The thing is, we can often manipulate others into “acting” the way we want for a short amount of time. But it’s foolish to think they’ve actually become at heart the person we were attempting to force or cajole them to be.

        1. “Clipped weeds soon return.” This is such a great line. You are so right. Change that comes about as a result of nagging and cajoling is usually only surface level change, and quickly returns. I would add that when we pressure others to act differently, even when the behavior does change, it damages the relationship. Of course, this isn’t to say that we should never request positive growth from others. There are times when this is needed. However, we do need to choose our battles carefully. And influence change those we love, should always be done with lots of patience and wisdom. Thanks Erik, for the excellent thoughts!

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