No one goes into a relationship thinking “oh, I hope this is going to be boring, this is really a person I can be bored with”. Well, not consciously anyway. But a relationship is good or bad, and that’s not something that’s decided by chance or fate. You have more power than you think over how happy you can be in a relationship.
It may seem obvious to be with someone because it makes you happy, but wanting to be with someone to be happy is not at all the same as knowing how to be happy with someone. A few months ago I got engaged to the love of my life. Since I first fell in love with him, I have known that we will be with each other for the rest of our lives. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that a good relationship takes hard work. Does it feel discouraging that the perfect relationship will never happen on its own? Pull yourself together! That’s actually good news, because it means you can have so much more influence. After all, if love isn’t like a lottery, but more like a skill, then that means everyone can reach the top. As with so many things in life, it’s all about having the right expectations and the right attitude – but here are nine slightly more concrete tips on how to set you and your partner up for happiness together!
Some things you’re definitely entitled to in a relationship. You should be able to feel safe, both physically and emotionally, with your partner. You should be able to talk to and trust each other. But always going in with the attitude that you’re entitled to this and that leads straight to misery. Look at the relationship as a whole, is it in many ways a good relationship? Remember to be grateful for it, and don’t get hung up on the little things that don’t work perfectly.
Respect each other
Treat your partner as you would a good friend. It’s not okay to pick on your friends and be disgruntled, so why should it be okay to do to your partner? Your partner is not a punching bag you should use to vent your negative energy. They are a human being with the same value as you, respect that.
Being a team player
One of the best things about being a couple is that there is always someone on your side. Knowing that there is someone there to support you when things are tough and to rejoice with you when things are going great. At the same time, it’s important to remember that you are your own individual. You are not meant to merge into one person who feels and thinks the same way all the time, and is together every minute. You are supposed to be there, sharing life with each other, but having your own purposes and goals in life.
Remember that you also have needs
When you really care about someone, it’s easy for that person’s needs to be at the top of the priority list. It’s wonderful that you want to help and take care of the one you love, but if your own needs aren’t being met, sooner or later you’ll resent your partner for making you feel left out. Make sure you know if you are feeling well and getting what you need. If you’re not, it’s time to help yourself first, and tell your partner if there’s something you want them to help you with.
You’re going to have a disagreement. Unfortunately, it’s hard to avoid in a relationship that’s moved past the pink, fluffy love phase. Just because there are heated arguments sometimes doesn’t mean you have a bad relationship. However, there are some things that don’t belong in a “good” conflict. Don’t use domination techniques. Don’t try to “win” the argument for the sake of winning. Conflict is there to move you forward in the relationship, and to teach you how to work better together, not to gain the upper hand or pose as a victim. That’s why you should listen to your partner, try to understand what they mean and how they feel, so that you can end the conflict as friends. Make it your policy to always be back to square one after a conflict, work out what needs to be worked out, and when you have, let it go!
Have fun together
Peace and quiet is all well and good, but sometimes what you need is to have some real fun together. Set aside time to laugh together, whatever it is that brings it on. Maybe it’s going to the swimming pool, baking together or lying on the couch watching YouTube clips.
It’s super important that you have quality time with your partner. But it’s just as important that you get quality time with yourself. From time to time, you need to cut yourself off from the outside world and devote all your attention and care to the person who is actually most important in your life – you.
No but seriously, feeling happy is really important. Partly it’s about working proactively, building a relationship that provides the conditions for you to feel good, and maybe feel a glorious rush of happiness from time to time. It’s also about attitude. Try to see what’s good around you and smile as often as you can.