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Jennifer McEwan, PhD
How To Succeed Like the Happiest Couples: Put Your Relationship First
Mount Vernon Family Therapy Associates
. http://www.mountvernontherapy.com

How To Succeed Like the Happiest Couples: Put Your Relationship First

If you ask about traits of happy couples, you’ll find many answers.

You’ll hear how happy couples appreciate each other, have sex often, and split up housework.

These are outward signs of a good relationship. The inside secret is: Happy couples make their partnership a priority.

Making a relationship a priority means neither partner puts other people, things, or tasks above the health of their relationship.

Sure, this can be hard to do. Life is demanding. Sometimes we’re so busy, we can barely find time for ourselves, let alone our partner.

What Putting Your Partner First in a Relationship Means

Putting your partner first means making your partner’s needs as important as your own. You tune into each other often, so nobody feels alone.

As you know each other better your trust, understanding and security together grows. That’s how your relationship becomes your greatest strength.

Signs Your Relationship Is a Priority

Relationship experts describe the traits of happy couples differently.

In the book Wired for Love, psychologist Stan Tatkin lists seven ways happy couples prioritize their partnership. They:

  • Make emotional connection a priority
  • Take time to know each other’s inner world
  • Protect each other from stresses like shame, isolation or other hardship
  • Tell each other your news first
  • Respect and allow their partner to see things differently
  • Never abandon, hurt, or scare each other on purpose
  • Make relationship health more important than being right, or doing what others want

In couples counseling, we often see a common misstep. Partners think they have to protect each other from their personal struggles. So they don’t say what’s bothering them. The opposite is true. Sharing your struggles (and joys) makes your relationship a safe haven. It’s where you validate and plan for what’s most important, as individuals and together.

The idea of a “couple bubble” may be a better way to protect your relationship.

A Happy Relationship Works Like a Protective Bubble

Stan Tatkin describes a healthy relationship as a “couple bubble”. It’s about making your partnership a safe place to share your struggles, joys, hopes and dreams. It’s where you talk through your career moves or your family’s needs or your “me time”.


Putting your relationship first makes partners feel safer together in an unpredictable world. It gives you the security you need to be the best you can be in work and life.

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