Study after study shows that the couples in the longest-lasting relationships are the best communicators. If you want to gauge how well you’re communicating, we have a guide:

  • First: When it comes to text messages to each other, the happiest couples use more pronouns like “I” and “me” – instead of “our” and “we.” According to Wayne State University researcher Richard Slatcher, using inclusive words like “we” can be a sign of hidden nagging, hostility and control, like “We should do yard work this weekend.” In fact, the word “we” shows up a lot less often in the texts of happy couples. The more often the word “I” is used, the happier and more satisfied they are. That's because it shows an ability to voice your thoughts and feelings, without worrying what the other person will say. When it comes to communicating with others, couples who use the word “we” are closer and happier. For example saying, “We loved our vacation.” Instead of “I loved it.”

  • The next question: If your spouse is anxious, what’s the best way to calm them down? Deliver your support so subtly that it doesn’t even register. In one study, partners who were subtly reassured – even though they thought they’d gotten little or no help - were the most soothed and calmed. Why? Because obvious support can make them think that you think they can’t handle their own problems. So, instead of saying, “You should do this.” Try something like, “Hmmm – I wonder if it would help to blah-blah-blah?”

  • Finally: As the day winds down, happier couples don’t leave their workday dramas at work. Instead, they share the mundane ups and downs of their day with each other. University of Utah researcher Lisa Diamond found that long-term couples who share the details of their day – or just listened to their spouse recap what happened – felt more included in their spouse’s day. They also felt happier and more connected at bedtime – even if the news was negative.