13 little things that happy couples swear are the key to a great relationship

Maridav / ShutterstockCouples make it work in different ways.
  • INSIDER asked couples to share little things they do that keep their relationships strong.
  • Some said that communication and taking time to show appreciation for each other keeps their relationships strong.
  • Others said playing rock, paper, scissors to decide who does chores or sleeping with two separate blankets are game changers.

Trust, communication, gratitude, commitment – these are all vital components of happy relationships. But sometimes, the little things are just as important.

INSIDER asked 12 couples to share small things they swear by that keep their relationships strong. Here’s what they said. Responses have been condensed and edited for clarity.


“Use rock, paper, scissors to decide silly or insignificant debates (like who does the dishes or a diaper).”

CourtesyYael and Will have been married for seven and a half years.

“Silly (but very real) advice – use rock, paper, scissors to decide silly or insignificant debates (like who does the dishes or a diaper). It’s random enough to keep things fair and no one has to remember who did it last. The fun of the game takes away the irritation of the chore.

More real advice – every Friday night we each tell the other something we appreciated about our spouse during the week. Sometimes you have to dig deep but those are the weeks it is most important. And, sometimes you will be surprised to hear what makes the difference in your spouse’s week. It makes you feel good and helps you better understand each other!” – Yael


“Jon and I always try to set aside time to do an activity together that we wouldn’t do on a daily basis.”

CourtesyShira and Jon have been together for two and a half years.

“Jon and I always try to set aside time to do an activity together that we wouldn’t do on a daily basis. It started once we were long distance, because we wanted to be doing things together, not just talking on the phone. We’d try things like playing Scrabble or doing crossword puzzles together over Skype. But now even when we’re together IRL, if it’s for a week or just a weekend, we try to find something special to do.

“We’ve made homemade pasta together and had a paint night at home. Or we go out to do something special, like going to see Christmas lights wherever we are in the winter, or going to play mini golf and ride the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island.

“It’s easy to fall into the same exact routine, but activities that are different can get you into a lighter mood, and let you be together with your partner in ways that you might not be on a daily basis. I owe this a lot to Jon, because he’s usually the one that pushes us to get off the couch and do something different.” – Shira


“It’s better to laugh than to argue.”

CourtesyShlomo and Michael have been together for 19 years and married for three.

“It isn’t about how much you have in common or about how completely you agree. It’s about how well you bridge the differences, and about how well you reconcile your disagreements.

“It’s about admitting when you are wrong, sometimes even when you know you are right, because you have to pick your fights and don’t need to win every one.

“It’s better to laugh than to argue, because not only will you disagree about what you should have for dinner tonight, but sometimes you will disagree about what you remember eating for dinner last night.” – Shlomo


“Sleeping with separate blankets.”

CourtesyShira and Chananel have been married for five years.

“Sleeping with separate blankets is the key … We’ve been married almost five years.” – Shira


“A big thing that keeps our relationship solid is that we continue to appreciate each other, and work very hard to not take each other for granted.”

CourtesyDanielle and Zach have been married for four and a half years.

“A big thing that keeps our relationship solid is that we continue to appreciate each other, and work very hard to not take each other for granted (we’ve been best friends for 15 years and married for four and a half, so there are definitely times when that’s challenging!). We say thank you to each other after doing mundane things like household chores or running errands, because even though we’re expected to do them we still want to show gratitude to each other.

“Also, there are times where we just sit and tell each other one thing that we appreciate about the other that day. It adds a lot of positive feelings to the day and our relationship as a whole.” – Danielle


“We have been together for seven years and have discovered that we require less together time than most.”

Alicia Lee WadeAngie and Matthew have been together for seven years.

“Matthew is a lifetime artist and I am a lifetime musician. We both require a lot of alone time in order to continue in our specialties. We have been together for seven years and have discovered that we require less together-time than most. Neither of us are huge conversationalists when we are at home. A lot of our communication is through touch and we are content knowing that the other is nearby.” – Angie


“We have made it this far by just accepting that we are complete opposites.”

CourtesyIsabella and Carlos have been together for three years.

“We’ve been together for three years now and have had many ups and downs, but we have made it this far by just accepting that we are complete opposites and when it comes to arguments that we need to be gentle and put ourselves in each other’s shoes.” – Isabella


“We swear that communication is the BIGGEST key to our successful relationship.”

CourtesyEmily and Dave have been together for three and a half years.

“My boyfriend and I have been together for about three and a half years and we swear that communication is the BIGGEST key to our successful relationship. We are very open with our frustrations and concerns and lay everything out on the table as soon as it enters our head. Life can be super hard but it’s easier when you have someone who truly understands your brain. They won’t unless you’re open about what’s going on inside it. I’m also super quirky, so it helps that he is, too.” – Emily


“It can seem counterintuitive, but I think being your own person and spending time without your partner is the key to a great relationship.”

Julia Naftulin/INSIDERJulia and Mike have been together for eight years.

“It can seem counterintuitive, but I think being your own person and spending time without your partner is the key to a great relationship. Whether I’m attending a workout class that I love (but know my partner would hate) or spending time with my own individual friend group, taking time away from my boyfriend makes me feel more connected to and appreciative of him.

“When we do our own things, it gives us more to talk about and ways to support each other outside of our own life together. I also think doing so can prevent any resentment that can occur from feeling like you can’t do a certain activity because your partner isn’t with you.” – Julia, INSIDER’s health and wellness reporter


“‘Never go to bed angry’ is such ludicrous.”

CourtesyCarly and Max have been together for seven years.
“Advice that I swear by:

1. See your own therapists!

We’ve established early on that our patterned behaviours, personality quirks, psychological tensions, and existential fears are all rightfully ours and unlikely to change without some therapeutic intervention – and that’s super ok (I fell in love with ALL of him, not just the good parts). That being said, our issues are intrinsically our own – created and manifested long before we coupled – and we should continue to grow independently as we do collectively. Understanding more about our own respective tendencies makes us better partners!

2. Keep having special date nights.

It can be really easy to resort to pajamas, Netflix, and takeout nights, especially after long work days and routines. Guilty! Max and I make concerted efforts to venture out and have a dinner and movie night in the neighbourhood, try new restaurants, and even take leisurely walks – even if the night is low key, getting dressed up and ready can reignite those early, first-date-like butterflies. It always helps us reconnect.

3. Go to bed angry!

“Never go to bed angry” is such ludicrous. A good night’s sleep is more often than not the most effective medicine; I wake up in the morning thinking more clearly, less heated, and more forgiving. Late nights fights are like grocery shopping when you’re starving: you impulsively do things you regret, in the hype of your emotions. Revisit the issue the next day!

4. Spend time apart.

I’m biased because of our long distance time in college, but I believe that a healthy dose of space keeps us all missing each other in appropriate amounts.

5. Stop texting!

Texting is for friends. Keep the signif other at a FaceTime level – makes conversations more meaningful, always.” – Carly


“Getting counseling when you need. No shame.”

CourtesyAviva and Binyomin have been married for five years.

“1. Believing in life long commitment is the number one thing.

2. Having a real friendship.

3. Getting counseling when you need. No shame.” – Aviva


“It sounds funny, but my relationship hack is that I grew up with divorced parents.”

CourtesyShoshana and Gabriel have been married for 10 years.

“It sounds funny, but my relationship hack is that I grew up with divorced parents. Both sides lost, the children lost, and only the lawyers won. Because of this, I have stuck together with my husband through everything and probably always will.

“The vast majority of divorces are initiated by the wife but my early life experience has shaped me to be too stubborn to divorce under almost any circumstances, so here we are 10 years and three kids later. My husband IS great and we’re very happy … but not by accident. I went into dating with a long-term perspective about what I was looking for and whether or not I was seeing that in him.” – Shoshana


“We pledged to be open with each other ALWAYS, telling each other how we really feel without sugarcoating things.”

CourtesyYrda and Arthur have been together for two years.

“I’m in a long distance relationship with my boyfriend. We met back in our sophomore year in high school here in the Philippines before he migrated to San Francisco, California. The things that keep us strong are:

1. Communication. Even though we have different time zones, we sacrifice some hours of sleep to talk with each other.

2. Him visiting me here in the Philippines. I can’t go to the US yet because I don’t have a visa, but I plan to get one this year!

3. Being open with each other. We pledged to be open with each other ALWAYS, telling each other how we really feel without sugarcoating things.

4. It’s about finding the right person. We both believe we’re really destined for each other because after everything that happened the past few years, we found the way back to each other. We understand each other well, and that’s the happiness and peace we feel because we’re each other’s opposite-gender version.

5. Supporting each other in everything. We are each other’s support system and we communicate well whenever we think that something is not right.” – Yrda

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