Like most people, you may think that happy people make happy relationships. That in order to be happy as a couple, you have to be in a good mental state and happy yourself. Consider that, in fact, the reverse may be true. To be in a fulfilling relationship, you don’t necessarily need to “work on yourself” or have your partner work on himself. Rather, you both need to work on your relationship and your own part in it.
The reality is that it is actually much easier and less threatening to examine your relationship and create a positive possibility for it rather than to try to “fix” yourself or the other person. In fact, you will find that working together on your relationship will actually contribute to and expand who you are as an individual. Sometimes things can be accomplished together as a couple that you have been working on and unable to do for years.
Here are some guidelines and examples for how to create your own happy relationship regardless of where you are in your life:
Work Together As a Team to Accomplish Your Individual Goals
Most every significant accomplishment is not completed alone. It takes teaching, guidance, and support along the way, especially in the most discouraging moments.
This is true in all of nature. Take the example of geese who fly in formation over great distances so they can take turns resting at the back. In the same way, you can get support from your partner when you are struggling to keep going with a challenge in your life.
That is what Dan and Myra, married for 20 years, did when confronting the issue of Myra being overweight. Myra had been struggling with her weight for years with little success. She was becoming depressed, and Dan was feeling resentful. He was not feeling attracted to Myra anymore, and they wondered if they could keep their marriage together.
Then they decided to really take on Myra’s weight problem together. They joined a local weight clinic together and asked to have only their combined weight revealed to them. Dan was glad to lose weight himself, so it served both of them. After only a few months, they lost a great deal of weight! Myra was no longer depressed, and the happiness in their relationship returned.
Routinely Acknowledge Each Other
One or both of you in your relationship may feel insecure or sensitive to criticism. You may go on feeling unhappy or even depressed for long periods of time. Often all you need to do to turn this around is to start acknowledging each other regularly. When you do this, you notice and appreciate something positive that one of you has said or done and how this has impacted you. If you have a criticism of your partner, start with an acknowledgment first, then follow it with what you need to say from that place.
Acknowledgment is not an expensive commodity, but people are often stingy giving it. That is unfortunate, especially since research by Frank Barron shows that this simple act of positive attention is what people need most–even more than expressions of love–to feel happy and function well.
In fact, research by John Gottman has demonstrated that happy couples make positive statements to each other five times more often than unhappy couples.
Karen and Mel are a great example of how acknowledgment can make a big difference for an unhappy partner. Karen had felt insecure about herself and being with a partner ever since the ending of her first serious relationship in her twenties. She started drinking alcohol heavily shortly after she met Mel. She was insecure about their relationship and became isolated and withdrawn.
After several years, they sought therapy, and Karen controlled her drinking. One of the first things they were instructed to do was to send each other positive texts and communications on a regular basis. They created a couple “mantra” or proclamation of “We have faith and believe in our love.” Mel took the lead on reminding them to say the proclamation daily.
They were also given the assignment to acknowledge each other every day. Karen realized that she hadn’t really appreciated Mel. Soon Karen started feeling better about herself and trusting their relationship. They even finally began talking about getting married after being together for over 10 years. For them, the priority to create a happy relationship changed their lives for good.
Ignite A Happy Relationship By Using This Simple Technique: Sharing Praise
Start keeping a list of things you appreciate about your partner and your relationship. Then begin and end each day for at least a week by sharing praise and acknowledging the things each of you has accomplished or contributed to your relationship.
One couple who did this exercise reported that even on the days when they had nothing much to say, they still managed to find something positive to share, and it reminded them of what attracted them to each other in the first place.
Some Tips About Acknowledging
—Make sure to say “I appreciate…” or “I acknowledge you for..” rather than “I would like to or want to acknowledge you for…” which dilutes the impact of the acknowledgment.
–Include in your acknowledgment the impact your partner’s positive behavior had on you. For example, “you washing the dishes last night made me feel appreciated for making the dinner.”
–You can request an acknowledgment for something you said or did that your partner may not have recognized. It doesn’t make the appreciation any less worthwhile!
Being in a happy relationship can happen at any time. Don’t wait until you think you are happy enough or healthy enough to make it work. If your intention is to be in a happy relationship, you can start right away. Work together as a team and acknowledge each other regularly to accomplish your goals, individually and as a couple. You may discover then that happy couples really do make happy people!
If you want help with creating the happiness you desire for yourself and your relationship, contact us to discuss what is possible by calling 434-971-4701. You can also check out our most recent book Lifelong Love for further suggestions. We have helped hundreds of couples reach more happiness than they had ever imagined was possible, and we can help you do the same. Don’t worry, you can be happy!