What does happiness mean to you?
It’s a phrase that we hear a lot: “He is happily married”, or “They are in a happy relationship.”
But what exactly does it mean to be happy in a relationship? Does it mean never arguing? Always being cheerful and enjoying spending every single minute with your partner? Or is there more to it than that?
Most of us are familiar with that initial rush of passion and love that comes with starting a new relationship. It feels like nothing will ever get in the way of your happiness. But over time, things do start to get in the way. Stresses at work, anxieties about finances, and the general routine of everyday life can start to erode the happiness of many couples. And if there are children in the mix too, that can lead to sleepless nights, short tempers, and a sense that those passion-filled days are well in the past.
So what does a happy relationship look like?
Taking the heat out of arguments
Contrary to what many people believe, being happy in a relationship does not mean never arguing. In fact, it would be pretty-much impossible to be around someone 24/7 and always see eye-to-eye, however much you love them. The key to maintaining a healthy relationship is in how you deal with disagreements.
Listening to the other person’s point of view is key and trying to understand where they are coming from. Knowing when to pick your battles is important too. If you don’t agree on an issue, can you let it go and agree to disagree? If it’s too important to let go then you need to bring it up and discuss it – but do so in a calm manner, at a time when you are in private and have plenty of time to talk.
Loyalty and Trust
People who are happy in a relationship know that they can trust their partner. They don’t worry what their partner is doing when they are not around, they don’t agonise over their intentions, and they know that their partner won’t tell others their secrets or talk about them behind their back.
If you feel that you can’t trust your partner, or if your partner doesn’t think you will be loyal to them, then is there a reason for this? Did something happen in the past that caused the trust to be broken? If so, then it might be time to raise these issues and talk about how to move forwards.
Positivity, gestures and gratitude
However much we love someone, there are always going to be little things that annoy us, but couples who are in happy relationships tend to focus on the positives rather than the negatives. Your partner may leave their dirty clothes on the floor, but perhaps they are a great parent, and make you laugh.
Long term relationships can have their own particular challenges. Everyone changes, and it is very unlikely that you or your partner are going to be the same people on your 20th anniversary that you were on your 1st anniversary. A lot can happen in that time, and even traits that you might have thought endearing at first, you may just find annoying now. Many couples find they have become ‘ships that pass in the night’, hardly saying a word to each other throughout their busy day, let alone doing anything more intimate!
This is where loving gestures become more important than ever. And they don’t have to be huge gestures. Watching a movie together without the kids, or even dropping in a few affectionate words unexpectedly can work wonders for your bond with your partner.
And don’t forget to express gratitude. Have you got into the habit of not thanking your partner if they make you a cup of tea, put the kids to bed or help out around the house? It may feel awkward at first, but a simple ‘thank you’ can really boost the happiness levels in a relationship and will let you partner know that you are not taking them for granted.
Long term contentment
Remember that you do not have to be joyful 100% of the time to be happy in a relationship. Life will always have its ups and downs, and there will inevitably be times when you will feel angry at your partner, or disappointed, or hurt. However, if you communicate well, are honest with each other and trust each other, these brief times of negativity should pass, and your relationship may end up being stronger and happier as a result.
If you feel you are unhappy in your relationship, you may well find yourself benefiting from couples counselling. This is a talking therapy where you can chat freely and openly about your thoughts, feelings, and behaviour within a relationship. This can often help you understand your partner better, and also help them understand you better. In this way, you can relate more easily, and appreciate each other’s motivations and thoughts, which goes a long way towards bringing a couple closer again. This counselling also helps you communicate more effectively between each other, allowing you to express your needs and expectations.
To find out more on how couples counselling can support you, get in touch today on 07305 920 437.