Lots of couples conform to traditions by courting, becoming engaged, getting married and then beginning their family.

Many more skip such rituals, living together without getting married and having children.

Others choose not to get married or have children at all, and some may choose not even to live with their partner.

Healthy relationships are not governed by specific rules when it comes to living arrangements.

The things that constitute a healthy and happy relationship come down to the sharing of key traits, specifically that both partners must be mutually respectful of each other, enjoy each other's company and share common values.

By being of the same mind about their relationship status and the future that they want to share (ie, about whether they want to get married or live together, and whether they want to have children some day), the happiness of their relationship is assured.

However, there are a number of myths which still circulate about what a “healthy and happy relationship” is meant to be, and these are actually counter-productive if people have unrealistic expectations.

Here, we look at some common myths so you can avoid the trap of thinking your relationship is a bad one.

Myth 1: Happy couples don't fight

Even the happiest of couples argue occasionally, and that's healthy and normal. Arguing just means that you're communicating your opinions and thoughts, and the way that the fight plays out leads to the resolution of issues in a positive and productive way.

However, if the arguments are constant and you find that you're always screaming at each other, that is not acceptable and is a key sign that you are both unhappy with your situation.

When you come to the point where you fight more than you talk, and you struggle to find common ground, you should seek counselling to resolve your problems and reassess your relationship.

When it comes down to it, fights and arguments should never end in mental or physical abuse.

Myth 2: Happy couples always do things together

Although it's wonderful when you and your partner have some shared interests, it isn't sensible to spend all of your free time together.

When you began your relationship, you each had your own needs and interests, and it's important to hold onto these even though you are now together. By spending some time away from each other and pursuing your own hobbies, you can actually increase your love for each other, bringing you closer than ever before.

Some couples find that they have absolutely no shared interests at all, and that's not an ideal situation, as balancing the amount of time you spend with each other is important.

Each of you have your own talents and you can share these with your partner in the hope that you can engage in some mutual activities, from gourmet cooking classes to trips out into the countryside.

These activities don't need to happen on a daily basis – while spending time together is important, equally you shouldn't always be your partner's shadow.

Couples in happy relationships give their partner enough freedom to do their own thing without always questioning their comings and goings.

Allowing each other to go out with friends and to enjoy their own activities shows that they feel safe and secure in their relationship, and happy couples have no fear of being told lies by their partner about where they are going and what they are up to.

Myth 3: Happy couples are always having amazing sex

It may surprise you that happy and healthy relationships don't actual depend on the couple having sex countless times each day! It's a fact that good sex is about quality, not quantity.

Of course, that doesn't mean happy couples can't enjoy having lots of sex, but it shouldn't be the main priority in their relationship.

Anybody who isn't happy with the sex in their relationship should feel confident to raise the issue.

Remember that your partner can't read your mind, and you'll never be happy unless you communicate and explore sexual experiences with each other.

By letting your partner know your feelings, you can work on finding ways to make sex a more pleasurable experience for you both. If one partner is unhappy, sex can never be fulfilling.

Myth 4: Happy couples get on with their in-laws

Everyone has heard at least one horrendous mother-in-law story, and while you can choose your partner, you can't choose their family.

You can hate your in-laws, adore them, or simply tolerate them, but no hard and fast rule says you have to love them or even like them. It isn't them who you are in a relationship with.

Whatever the feelings between yourself and your partner's family, they certainly have no right to mistreat you.

If you're having problems with your in-laws, you should discuss it with your partner as they may not be aware of the issues, and if they still fail to see what is happening, you must find some way of helping them to see that you're serious.

Happy couples don't need their relationships with their in-laws to be perfect, but each partner must be supportive and understanding about any issues that are resulting in upheaval or distress in to their loved one.

Myth 5: Happy couples never forget important occasions

You're bound to be disappointed if your partner has forgotten your anniversary or birthday, but if you had been looking forward to being given an expensive gift or romantic present and then didn't even receive a card, should you really be devastated?

Receiving an elaborate anniversary gift from a partner who fails to acknowledge the way you feel or who never listens to what you have to say will certainly not make you happy.

Finding true happiness together is really about the little things that you do for each other that show love and respect. While it may be wonderful to receive a lovely gift, that pleasure won't last long if you're always arguing or if you always feel undermined, ignored and dismissed.

Myth 6: Happy couples always take a certain path

While lots of people still have conventional values when it comes to relationships, choosing to follow the path of dating through to engagement, marriage and children, there are others who don't want to follow that road.

Society no longer dictates rules about the way in which relationships must play out, and married couples as well those who co-habitate can have identical lives both emotionally and physically.

Neither way is wrong, and it is each couple's joint decision as to how they will lead the lives together.

There can be a problem, however, if the couple cannot agree about the way in which their relationship is heading.

If one partner wants to get married but the other does not, this is a potential problem. Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean their relationship will fail. The couple must work together to resolve the issue and find some balance so that both partners can find peace.

Myth 7: Happy couples are always happy living together

When couples live together, either while they are dating or following marriage, they will find that life isn't always perfect.

Initially, they will have to make a lot of adjustments while getting used to living together, learning to share their space, and to divide their responsibilities. Living with another person means that you need to compromise.

Instead of allowing negative thoughts and feelings about flaws that you see in your partner overwhelm you, it is important to speak up to resolve the issues.

For example, if your partner never puts their toothbrush away in its holder but instead leaves it out on the sink so that you have to put it away, you should find out the reason why they won't hang it up instead of getting angry, and perhaps suggest putting it in the drawer or medicine cabinet instead.

Sometimes, by simply talking about the issues, you can find out more about your partner - what makes them tick, why they make their choices, and why they exhibit some behaviors.

Living with another person requires time to make adjustments, and you will need to restrain yourself even if you're desperate to angrily lash out for some behavior that you perceive as wrong.

Loving someone may mean that you're keen to compromise, but that doesn't mean that you don't think back fondly on the days when you were free to do anything you liked at home. The good news is that you can still enjoy all those things you enjoyed doing when you're alone in the house.

Myth 8: Happy couples never need to try to make their relationship work

You may not believe it, but all relationships need constant work.

To achieve happiness, you must both make compromises, change some behaviors and ways in which you think, and lose any stubbornness.

This doesn't mean that you have to change the person who you are inside, it just means that you need to work on finding ways of showing respect for your partner that makes both your relationship, and you yourself, healthier and happier.

A time to stay and a time to leave

Our lives are always full of challenge and change.

Couples in happy relationships spend lots of time working hard on making things work, and that is the reason for their happiness

It is important to sometimes concede to your partner's needs, and to accept that sometimes they will need to concede to yours too. It is only by working together that you can become and stay a happy pair.