Recently, I received a beautiful card from a lovely 84-year-old lady who I used to cross paths with at the gym. She wrote the most warming words ahead of the arrival of mine and Richie's first baby, and this provided me with some wisdom into a happy and healthy partnership.
Her words, "We live each day as though we intend to live forever" reduced me to tears and reminded me it's this optimistic way of thinking that shows the true essence of a strong union. It filled my heart with joy, and I still smile and look at the card regularly. If you're reading this, Penny from the changing rooms, thank you. You are one of life's treasures.
Our relationships flourish when we treat ourselves and others with kindness, respect, trust and compassion. Never underestimate the power of a handwritten note, a hug or doing something to show your appreciation. Small acts of kindness are proven to go further than occasional grand gestures.
Share the load
This may sound like a no brainer, but research suggests couples who share the work around the house are more likely to be happier in their relationships. So sit down and make a little list together, as clearly defined roles around the home mean you are sharing the workload, which makes for a much better team.
Look for the good
Try to focus on what's going well in your relationship and this will help shift the lens of what you see. Instead of focusing on what you see as your partner's weaknesses, try to focus on the good things they're doing, no matter how big or small. The reality is that no-one is perfect, but showing gratitude enables people to feel more valued. Grateful partners tend to be more happy and satisfied, and feel closer to each other.
Top up your love tank
John Gottman, a renowned marriage expert, suggests the difference between happy and unhappy couples is the balance between positive and negative interactions during conflict. That magic ratio should be 5:1, which means that for every negative interaction during conflict, a happy marriage has five or more positive interactions. It's important you say how you feel but also think about how you convey things. Kindness and compassion are key!
We're often so busy that we forget to set aside time for trying something new or having a date night to reconnect with one another. It's important to take time each week to laugh, have fun and play together. Keep the spark burning by sharing in a new experience every so often.
For a successful union, we must first look in the mirror. Great partners will add so much value to our lives, but happiness really depends on us. This means looking after our mental and physical health, and ensuring we are kind, caring and compassionate to ourselves so that we feel secure in our own skins.