What makes a happy relationship?
Every time a long-term couple speaks of love over the years, the first question asked is “What is the secret for a happy relationship that lasts?” Observing these couples can reveal the differences in how they interact and treat each other. What creates these unique connections that stand the test of time?
Whether you are in a happy, committed relationship or not, you might always wonder just what is different about those two special people. Soulmates, perhaps, or destiny brought them together. In the end, how they met each other doesn’t matter much. The difference depends on the practice of several basic rules of living that are prioritized in these couples’ lives.
Expect and Accept What is Real for Happiness
Relationships depicted in movies and on television are sometimes what couples based their expectations off of. However, these type of make believe romances exist only on the big screen. No relationship is all moonlight and roses with exotic vacations and expensive dinners by candlelight.
The genuine relationship takes much longer to develop and maintain than a 30 minute sitcom or hour-long drama. In real life, the reason why other people’s relationships seem to be doing much better is because they take more time.
Some people erroneously believe that, as the Beatles said, “Love Is All You Need.” People who want to create relationships that stand the test of time made to understand that, while love is an important component, acceptance of reality is also quite important. Cultivating a happy relationship requires a 100% dedicated effort and no expectations of return value. When both parties in a relationship believe an act in this way, their union will be strong and long-lasting.
Expectations that involve their real day to day activities and shortcomings of life are necessary to be able to ride both the highs and lows of any relationship. Not every day will be romantic or love filled for passionate. Even in the bad times, the two people in a relationship made to recognize and understand that these are temporary setbacks and that uniting against the problem is what will bring it to a successful conclusion.
Effort and Care Required for Happy Relationships
A successful long-term relationship requires constant effort, although it should never be a chore if love exists. One of the worst things a couple can experience is a trend toward automatic action and taking each other for granted. Amidst the stresses and busyness of real life, each party must ask themselves, “How can I improve my partner’s life today?” The answer to this question does not need to be a grand show of affection or a time consuming struggle. Little things, practiced regularly, will make a difference.
Some of the simplest acts, such as picking up your partner’s favorite dessert or returning their library books, can show your appreciation. Also remember to pay him or her compliments and celebrate his or her achievements. Your partner is not only your romantic interest but also your best friend and teammate. Sometimes taking on the disliked chores or picking up some slack can help them out.
Practice selflessness by depositing a thoughtful act into your partner’s TWILY account. This is not a place to keep score or to try to boost your own feelings or pay off by racking up “points” for your good behaviour. If you think of anything you can do two reduce stress or save time and your partner’s life, just go do it.
Open and Honest Communication is Key
From the outside, people in committed relationships almost seem to read one another’s minds. This intuition can build over time, but it usually starts out as direct and honest communication. Never expect your partner to be a mind reader or just to know what you want or need.
Relationships can quickly fall into a habit of coaching or telling instead of listening or communicating equally. No matter what situation presents itself in your relationship, it is important to open up lines for emotions to come through. Simply ask your partner how a certain circumstance makes them feel and then be prepared to listen attentively and really soak in their viewpoint. Your job is not necessarily to fix the situation, and opinions should only be offered if they are asked for or if your partner is open to them.
Focus on the Positive, Not the Negative to Stay Happy Together
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” This commonly heard mantra for positive thinking can be a great benefit to any long-term relationship. The matter what, there will be some lemons or negative situations in you and your partner’s life together. You have two choices. Either allow the negativity to fester and grow, or bring them out in the open and discuss them respectfully and responsibly.
While the negative situation may be caused by career stress, distant family members or money problems, some will undoubtedly stem directly from your relationship with your partner. In order to solve any problems, it must be handled openly. Each person involved must listen to honest feedback about their behavior and the situation itself. One good way to open dialog is to ask for a score, out of the range of 1 to 10, for the particular aspect of your relationship you’re having trouble with. This could be communication, support, intimacy or any number of other aspects.
Ask for the score in an open and receptive manner, and then wait to give your partner time to come up with an honest number response. For example, if they give the rating for communication as a six, ask them for a list of four things you could do to improve the communication to a level 10. The answer to that question may be difficult to hear as the answers may sound like criticisms. One of the goals of TWILY is to shift the negative associations into positive thoughts and actions.
After you give your partner time to express his or her honest feelings about what needs to be improved in the factor of the relationship you’re discussing, finish up the exercise by asking one additional question. “What are four things that you think you can do to bring our relationship to a level 10?”
He the first question alone creates an imbalance and a separation of you and your partner when it comes to solving whatever the problem is. Asking this final question rebalances the circumstance and reaffirms your dedication to work alongside your partner to the benefit of the relationship. When it comes down to it, all relationships depend on the actions and attitudes of both parties involved. It is important to be able to look objectively and honestly at your own behaviours and shortcomings, but also to understand that your partner is responsible as well. For additional information and ideas about how you can strengthen your relationship, check out the TWILY web site.