Anyone can have a happy relationship if they put in the work. Sometimes the small things like what you say to your partner on a day to day basis really matters. Because according to experts and research, couples in happier relationships tend to say certain things to each other more often than everyone else.
As Katie Ziskind, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle, “Couples who have been in long-term relationships or marriages have a totally different style of communication.”
Happier and more successful long-term couples tend to be less reactive and more reflective. For instance, if one partner gets angry or triggered by the other, they know how to pause and take a time out before coming together to work things out. “Both parties do not choose reaction, irrational words, or quick hurtful jabs,” Ziskind says. “Instead, both parties know how to see the big picture.” They choose their words carefully and work together as a team to resolve issues as they come.
But it’s not always about the words you don’t say to each other. If you’re going to be in a successful, long-term relationship, you also need to be mindful of the words and phrases you say to your partner each day. So here are some things couples in happier relationships tend to say more often, according to experts.
1“You Make Me Laugh”
“Couples who laugh together have usually the best relationships because they can mutually enjoy each other’s jokes, and similar interests,” Mackenzie Riel, relationship expert with TooTimid, tells Bustle. In fact, a 2014 study published in the journal Personal Relationships found that couples who laugh together more often tend to have “higher-quality” relationships.
2“You’re The Best”
“After 40 years of research, John Gottman concluded that the happiest couples communicate in an engaged and positive manner that psychologists call Active Constructive Responding (ARC),” Anne Nelson, CAPP, ACC, positive psychology practitioner and coach, tells Bustle. Gottman found that couples who created a “culture” of respect and appreciation by constantly showing interest in each other were happier in their relationship overall. “They were each other’s biggest fan, communicating excitement over the little and big things,” Nelson says. “Essentially, kindness served as the glue that held the marriages together.”
3“Your Feelings Matter To Me”
Feeling seen, heard, and understood is one of the keys to a happy and successful relationship. It all comes down to being a good listener. “Being concerned about your partner’s well-being and how they feel can make for a much healthier and stronger connection,” Riel says.
“Happier couples express gratitude and thank one another even for the seemingly small day to day things,” Rachel Ann Dine, licensed professional counselor, tells Bustle. In fact, a 2015 University of Georgia study found that couples who expressed more gratitude in their relationship felt more positively about it. “Expressing gratitude in your relationship for the big (and especially!) the small things only aids in the other person feeling appreciated and recognized, which is always important and beneficial to someone’s well-being,” Dine says.
5“You Mean A Lot To Me”
Letting your partner know that they mean a lot to you is a good way to show love and appreciation. According to Riel, it lets your partner know just how much you value them. That’s really important if you want your relationship to work. According to a 2012 study published in the journal Interpersonal Relations and Group Processes, people who felt appreciated and valued in their relationships were more likely to feel like their partner was worth investing in. They were also more committed to their relationship and were likely to stay long-term.
6“I Need You”
As couples psychotherapist and author, Dr. Fran Walfish tells Bustle, some people like knowing their partner “needs” them. For the most part, people want to be there to support their partner when they need it. But the problem is, some people don’t communicate their needs explicitly. They assume their partners should know what they’re thinking. But as a 2018 Wake Forest University study found, couples who felt supported by their partner felt less stress and much more satisfied in their relationship overall. However, the positive effects were only felt if the partner received the right kind of support they needed. The only way to make sure your partner is giving you the right kind of support you need is to be clear and communicate.
7“I Love You”
This goes without saying, but saying those three words and meaning it is super important if you want your relationship to work. “Simply put, saying ‘I love you’ is an active reminder of your admiration for one another,” Riel says.
When you’re in a relationship, the words you do and don’t say really matter. Happy couples put in the work to get to where they are. If you can make it a point to say these things to your partner often, you can have a happy relationship as well.