We all know a couple like this: After years together they still hold hands, make each other laugh and blush, get along famously, and seem to enjoy a dynamite groove the rest of us only dream of finding. But what really goes on behind the scenes? Have these two soul mates actually found their perfect matches in this big wide world, or are there secrets and strategies to making sure that romantic spirit continues to flourish over time?

In order to maintain the magic and sustain the spark, happy couples know they must have all five of these bases covered:

1. Start off with a solid bond on the friendship level. Remember that best friend you had when you were a kid? Whether blissfully playing side-by-side in the sandbox or building an awesome fort together, you two just grooved on being in each other’s presence. Happy couples share that same serendipitous groove in the adult world. Romantic chemistry aside, they genuinely like each other as people and truly enjoy walking down the path of life holding hands.
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2. Keep things fresh as time marches on. Routines and traditions can give a couple a comforting sense of predictability that’s both grounding and reassuring. But surprises and adventures are also essential to really keeping that spark alive. Happy couples make a habit of shaking things up a bit by planning weekend getaways to undiscovered destinations, saving their pennies for a dream vacation, or launching fun and ambitious projects to work on together. Having exciting things on the calendar to look forward to and sharing new adventures as a couple reaffirms their connectedness and refuels the romance.

3. Clear the air when issues arise. It’s perfectly natural for any couple to encounter frustrations, disappointments and miscommunications from time to time. But if grievances go unaired, they can pile up into a mountain of resentment and put the relationship at risk. Happy couples make sure they keep communication open and navigate those inevitable rough spots with honesty and mutual respect. If any issues should arise that seem too big or too complex to resolve between the two of them, they’ll schedule some sessions with a couples therapist to help them safely weather the storm.

4. Have a life as individuals outside of the relationship. A healthy relationship consists of two individuals, with each maintaining a strong sense of self and taking a genuine interest in the other person. One may decide to go back to school to pursue a higher degree, while the other may get involved in a volunteer project or a photography workshop. Maintaining your individual identities and pursuing separate interests ensures that there will always be new things to share and to learn about each other throughout the years.

5. Schedule regular maintenance checks to keep things “tuned up” together. Whether it be once a month or annually, a regularly scheduled relationship review allows for some essential upkeep and maintenance issues to be addressed in order to keep things healthy. Happy couples may agree to a periodic summit meeting to check in with each other about the overall well-being of their partnership. They may discuss what they’ve been appreciating about each other, what dynamics could use some tweaking, and what is next on the horizon for their future as a couple. A little preventative TLC from time to time helps keep those relationship engines running smoothly.

Analise Pendergast is a freelance writer who frequently contributes to Happen magazine.