10 habits of happy couples? I fail #2 miserably

What grade would you give yourself as you try to keep your relationship healthy?

If you’re anything like me, you’ve wasted way too much time on those viral video sites about something amazing happening three minutes into a video or a 5-year-old “out breakdancing a professional street performer.”

Most of the time, it’s interesting but not life changing. Every once in a while though, one of those sites gives you something useful other than a lesson on how to draft a blog post title.

And when it’s about marriage or “not being a crappy husband,” it inevitably ends up in my inbox. Yeah … I’m now known by friends and family as the one who needs and is most receptive to advice in the area.

That’s OK. There are worse things to be known for, right Lindsay Lohan?

Well a couple of weeks ago we struck gold with 10 Habits of Happy Couples, by Dr. Mark Goulston and 6 Secrets of a Lasting Relationship- How to Fall in Love Again.

Dude’s got some street cred if you ask me.

Let’s see how I stack up in the Happy Couple Habit Counter.

1. Go to bed at the same time

Pass. We generally are in bed awake at the same time and fall asleep around the same time. But we don’t get into bed together at the same time every night. Maybe it’s time to try this.

2. Cultivate common interests

Fail. I like sports. She likes “not watching sports.” She likes the beach. I like “not being at the beach.” I like “rustic stuff like being in the woods.” She likes “places where there are no bugs.” We both like fruit picking. But I generally like to do mine at the super market. Plus, how much fruit can four people eat? Need to work on this. I guess apple picking is sort of like hiking in the woods but with a cover charge and overpriced fruit. Maybe there’s hope.

3. Walk hand in hand or side by side

Pass. We’re usually pretty good at walking together and holding hands, although we can’t agree on hand-holding technique. She’s a finger-wrapper and I’m a fingers together and hands angled guy. Having fingers in between my fingers is just uncomfortable … (Are we the only couple with finger placement incompatibility?)

4. Make trust and forgiveness your default mode

Barely Pass. Let’s just say we’re working on this. Not with any of the “big things,” but years of putting the family on the back burner aren’t just forgotten overnight …

5. Focus more on what your partner does right than what he or she does wrong

Pass. Pretty good at this and getting better.

6. Hug each other as soon as you see each other after work

Fail. I’m 1 for 5 on a good week. Definitely something to work on. As it is, walking into the house after work is a pretty hectic event. Kids running at me. Wife’s tired. I’m beat up after a long day of work and fighting traffic. A pause and a hug are probably just what the doctor would order in that moment. I’m going to work hard on this.

7. Say “I love you” and “Have a good day” every morning

Pass. When she’s awake we’re 9 for 10.

8. Say “Good night” every night, regardless of how you feel

Pass. We’re pretty good with this too.

9. Do a “weather” check during the day, calling your wife during the day to see how she’s doing.

Pass. 4 times per week at least.

10. Be proud to be seen with your partner

Pass, at least. I am. I think she is. I’m kind of afraid to ask …

So there you have it. Not a report card that I would want. I had originally given me actual letter grades but that was ugly … lots of Bs and Cs. Only a couple As.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on Nick Pavlidis’ blog, Confessions of a Terrible Husband. It has been republished here with permission.

Nick Pavlidis

Nick Pavlidis helps high achievers grow their businesses while maintaining strong boundaries around family and personal priorities. His first book, "Confessions of a Terrible Husband: Lessons Learned from a Lumpy Couch" details how he went from an overworked lawyer who had a family, to a husband and father who is also a successful lawyer and businessman, and shows you his process, which you can use to help your relationship, too.