The Secret to Being Happy in Your Relationship
When you are in a romantic relationship, it’s important that you feel happy and supported by your partner. But it’s important to note that it’s not your partner's job or the responsibility of your relationship to keep you happy. Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to take care of your own happiness, whether you are in a relationship or not. As cheesy as it may sound, true happiness comes from within and starts with you. Taking responsibility for your happiness means prioritizing your mental health, checking in with yourself, focusing on self love, taking time for yourself and pursuing things that make you happy. While it’s your personal responsibility to take care of your happiness, it’s also important to make sure that your relationship is a source of happiness in your life. Here are a list of ways to make your relationship more enjoyable and filled with happiness:
Honesty is always the best policy. If you are feeling some type of way in your relationship, let your partner know! Unfortunately, no one is able to read minds, and even if you feel like you’re leaving the most OBVIOUS hints, you can’t expect your partner to know exactly how you are feeling. A lot of relationship problems boil down to problems with communication and honesty. Feeling misunderstood (because you aren’t communicating your feelings and needs) can cause you to feel isolated and it can cause your partner to feel inadequate. To avoid these problems, and to cultivate a happy relationship, you should be honest with your partner about the good and the bad, so that they understand how things are going. Being honest will help you feel more seen and heard in the relationship, and it will take the pressure of being a mind reader off of your partner... both these things will make you happier as a couple and as individuals as well.
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In addition to being honest, it’s important to be direct with your partner. A lot of people rely on humor or sarcasm to communicate their feelings, because it can diffuse the situation or make honest communication easier to swallow. And while you may think that you’re being honest when communicating your feelings in this way, you are not being direct. Using humor or indirect communication can leave room for confusion and miscommunication, which totally obscures the fact that you’re being honest! If you need to have a serious conversation with your partner, make sure that you use clear and direct language so that they understand what you are trying to say. This can seem intimidating at first, especially if you tend to rely on humor or other things as a way to communicate, but the more you practice being direct, the more natural it will feel. Being direct with your partner will ensure that you are on the same page about things and are able to support one another, which will lead to a happier and healthier relationship.
Communication is a hugely important part of any relationship, and it is also something that couples struggle with all the time. Effective communication, meaning communication that articulates your emotions and needs to your partner, can take a lot of effort and practice. It can feel intimidating to address your emotions with your partner, especially if you are not used to communicating these types of things, so setting aside time to ‘check-in’ with one another in a serious way can help take away some of that anxiety. Committing to a judgement-free time for communication will let both you and your partner talk about things that have been on your mind - good and bad - so that you can address things as they arise. Prioritizing good communication will ensure that you both feel seen and understood in the relationship, which will increase your satisfaction in the relationship, and your happiness! Having these kinds of check-ins also prevents feelings from festering and becoming huge problems/fights. And while conflict is a necessary part of every relationship, we can all admit that we’re happy when we aren’t fighting with our partners.
Practice “upkeep” with a therapist
While it’s ultimately your job to find happiness for yourself, it doesn’t hurt to have a little professional help every now and again. Sometimes it can be super difficult to practice self care and self love if you are not in the practice of doing so. Talking to a therapist can help you discover different techniques that will help you incorporate self care into your day to day life. Therapists can also address other things that may be preventing you from finding happiness on your own. Being happy might require you to address past traumas or emotional blocks that are holding you back from being the best, happiest version of yourself. Practicing self care on a consistent basis and finding the root of your unhappiness with the help of a professional will make you a happier person, which will allow you to find more happiness in your relationships! Even if you are not presently unhappy, it can be helpful to talk to a therapist to learn new techniques or just have someone to talk through your emotions with. Seeing a therapist will only improve your emotional intelligence and capacity to find happiness in your life.
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Everybody has bad days, which means that no one can be nice all of the time. But even if this isn’t entirely possible, being kind 100% of the time is a good goal to have in mind. Kindness is an important part in any relationship, whether it’s a romantic relationship or a platonic relationship. Focusing on being kind, despite your mood or whatever it is you are going through on a personal level will help you maintain happiness in your relationship, even on the bad days. This kindness should also extend to your partner when they are having bad days. It’s not easy to face every situation with kindness, but being gracious to your partner and to yourself will help you both be happy in the relationship.
Let go of expectations
It’s important to be present in your relationships, and being present can often mean being content in whatever reality you are currently in. It means letting go of comparisons and how you think your relationship should look or how your partner should act. When you hold onto expectations, instead of acknowledging your relationship for what it is, you will never be able to find happiness. Instead of holding onto unrealistic expectations regarding your partner or your relationship or even yourself, you should focus on living in the present moment.
Take some space
A huge part of self care, and happiness in a relationship for that matter, involves taking time for yourself. Just because you are a couple does not mean that you have to do EVERYTHING together. Taking time alone for yourself and away from your partner can help you check-in with your emotions and regroup. Even if you’re an extrovert, it’s important to take alone time so that you can center yourself. Yes, this is important even if you don’t feel like you need alone time. In addition to being good for you, it’s good for your partner because more likely than not, they also need some alone time to check-in with themselves. Taking space doesn’t need to mean not seeing each other for days or weeks, it simply means taking as much time as you need (could be just 30 minutes!) to practice mindfulness or read a book or do a meditative activity. Prioritizing your self-care and taking some time apart will improve both you and your partner’s happiness which will have positive repercussions for your relationship.
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In addition to letting go of expectations of yourself, your partner and your relationship, it’s important to be patient and content with the current state of affairs. Stressing about where you want the relationship to go, or how the future will look will prevent you from being happy in the present moment. A big part of letting go of expectation is learning to accept how things are and being patient about how things develop in the relationship. Don’t rush to commit if you aren’t ready, don’t decide to move in together or adopt a dog or meet the parents because you think that’s what should be happening. Patiently wait until your relationship is ready for those types of milestones, recognizing that the ‘right’ time is different for every person and every relationship, and enjoy your relationship as it is. While it is important to think about the future of your relationship (you can’t spend your ENTIRE life living in the present), don’t rush your relationship into a place it’s not ready to be. Your relationship will progress at a natural place if you let it, and both you and your partner will be happier if you let it do so in an organic way!
Focus on gratitude
No relationship is perfect, and for some people, it’s easy to focus on all the problems that exist in a relationship, no matter how small. While it’s good to be aware of the growth opportunities in your relationship, it’s also important to focus on the good stuff more than the bad. Finding things to be grateful for in your relationship, whether it’s your partner’s sense of humor, their support for you, your shared interests, ect., ect., will help frame your relationship in a positive way, which will lead you to be happier both in your relationship and on a personal level.
Have fun together
This might seem like an obvious secret to a happy relationship, and while this is true, prioritizing fun with your partner is often overlooked! Relationships go through different stages, and while things may be all fun and games in the beginning, couples often lose their sense of playfulness as the relationship progresses. It’s important to maintain an element of fun no matter what stage your relationship is in. Having fun together can involve a hobby that you both like, playing board games, embracing date night, or really anything that you both enjoy doing. If you’re out of ideas, reflect back on the beginning of your relationship and think about the kind of activities that initially brought you joy as a couple. Doing these types of activities again will likely reintroduce joy into your relationship! But don’t feel obliged to stick with the things you know and are comfortable with! It’s also super fun to explore new things with your partner!
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Let go of contempt
When you are in a relationship, especially a long term relationship, you are likely to have disagreements every now and then. And while these are natural, it’s important that you are able to move past the disagreements after they happen. Holding on to small complaints or criticisms will hold you back in the long run and will make you dissatisfied with your relationship. If you focus on not sweating the little stuff, moving past disagreements and focusing on forgiveness rather than contempt you will be happier. While forgiving and forgetting is important for your happiness, it’s also important to know what things deserve a proper discussion. Sweeping recurring problems under the rug is not the way to happiness either....
Don’t rely on your partner to make you happy
Like we said above, it’s important that you take ultimate responsibility for your happiness whether or not you are in a relationship. Happiness is not something that can be fabricated externally (aka by your partner or through a relationship), it needs to come from within. Expecting your partner to make you happy creates a huge burden for them, that they will likely fail at, even if they give it their all. Your partner can not make you happy, or increase your happiness, if you are not working on this to begin with. Relying on your partner to make you happy will not create happiness for you, and will in fact just create extra stress in your relationship.
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