Five Secrets of Successful Couples

While there are a million different ways to fall in love, the ways of staying there have a few common denominators. To ensure your love goes the distance, make sure you're using these winning strategies.

Success Secret #1: Maintain Your Own Identity

No matter how independent you are, being in a serious relationship has a way of sucking you into being a couple. Your lives can't help but get increasingly entwined - which can be great - but can also mean that you feel both dependent and depended on. But successful couples know that no matter how much you love each other, sometimes you feel trapped. That's why they make sure to have "me" time, "me" hobbies and even "me" friends. Bringing that individuality to your union is what made it so exciting at first...and keeps it that way in the future.

Success Secret #2: Fight, But Fairly

Constant conflict is no friend to your relationship, but avoiding a fight is actually counterproductive to maintaining a solid union. If you keep your gripes under wraps, you allow resentment to build, which will eat away at your bond. When you do clash, keep it civil. No cheap shots, no getting physical, no accusations. Remember that the goal is not to win and win big, it's to get what's bothering you out in the open and come to a mutually satisfying solution.

Success Secret #3: Sweat the Small Stuff

It's tempting, once settled in a secure union, to forget the little courtesies. Remember when you were still trying to impress each other with niceties - opening doors, sending little love notes, surprising them at work with lunch - and still remembered the big things, like respectfully listening to each other? Often that stuff stops over time, as you slowly take each other for granted or start putting other things - your career, kids or hobbies - before your partner. But successful couples keep the spotlight on each other, staying interested in each other's opinions, talking them up to other people, taking them seriously.

Success Secret #4: Keep the Bed Sheets Burning

While that gotta-have-you-now feeling might fade a little with the years, successful couples still manage to keep the lust alive by making passion a priority. They continue finding new ways to please each other and stay affectionate, even through the occasional (and inevitable) dry spell.

Success Secret #5: Keep Working at It

Even though they're successful, happy couples don't rest on their laurels. They know time and a false sense of security can erode even the strongest bond, so they regularly have "state of the union" conversations to determine the happiness of both parties. And when someone's unhappy? They work to fix things.

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