You love your partner the most, but sometimes you probably want to throw him or her off a cliff. Still, you’re curious: What’s the secret to long-term success? Well, the devil’s in the details, of course. According to researchers, happily married couples tend to share these five attributes.
1. They Prioritize Good Manners
You’ve lived together for how long? Of course it’s easy to forget to say “please” and “thank you” when you ask your partner to pass the salt or hold the door. But couples in a solid relationship say a joint effort to regularly express gratitude is something that makes all the difference when it comes to a happy (and long-term) union. In fact, a study published in the journal Personal Relationships found that showing appreciation is key to a healthy and successful marriage and that the simple act of saying “thank you” to your partner can be powerful enough to counteract the damage of even a blowout fight. (It’s not how often you argue, but how you treat each other when you argue that counts, the study authors explain.)
2. They don’t overshare online
We all have those friends who gush online about every single couple milestone. First anniversary? Sweet. First anniversary of the time you first shared ice cream cones together? Hmm, a little bit suspect. According to researchers at Haverford College, the more insecure someone feels about their relationship, the more likely they are to post on social media about it for validation. On the contrary, happy couples are happier to commemorate special milestones privately.
3. They Get Excited to Try New Things
The restaurant where everybody knows your name is a welcome part of your courtship, but couples who continually make the effort to mix things up are happier in relationships, according to several studies including one published by Rutgers University. The reason? Novelty works—the act of simply doing new things together as a couple helps bring the butterflies back and sparks those chemical surges in your brain’s reward center that ran high in the early days. Also, shaking things up is not as hard as it sounds. “You don’t have to swing from the chandeliers. Just go to a new part of a town, take a drive in the country or better yet, don’t make plans and see what happens to you,” Dr. Helen E. Fisher of Rutgers told The New York Times.
4. They Don’t Mind a Little PDA
No, we’re not talking about sex every night, but happily married couples are the ones who are A-OK with small acts of physical affection. A study in the Journal of Personal and Social Relationships reports that simply initiating physical contact—holding hands, cuddling on the couch, hugging—can signal to your partner that there’s at least a desire to be close.
5. They Never Leave Dishes in the Sink
Many couples rank this as their number one pet peeve, but couples who stay together pitch in on dish duty together, according to a Pew Research poll. It all comes down to a joint effort to take on household chores (which also serves as an acknowledgment of how time-consuming it can be). So, that cereal bowl you left sink-side that will take two seconds to wash out? Just do it. A happier marriage is your reward.