A lot of us have been taught that being happy in a relationship is something that just happens. We’re told that falling in love looks something like an accident. But the truth is, there’s a lot more involved when trying to figure out how to be happy in a relationship. And a lot of it is on you.
There are choices you can make every day in your relationship that will help you determine how happy you are. It’s not a “wait and see” game; it’s more of a “be actively involved and make the best of everything” game.
My husband is the coolest person in the entire world to me, and there’s no one I’d rather hang out with than him. I feel really lucky to have stumbled across him in my life because we just fit perfectly, but the truth is that we both work on our marriage, too. Being happy is about making intentional choices to support that happiness. So here are 10 things you can start doing now to be happier in your relationship.
1. Ditch The Expectations
One of my favorite things to say about relationships is this: Expectation is the mother of disappointment.
Too often, when we get in long-term relationships, we begin to expect things from our partner. They take the puppy out every morning, so we come to expect it. We do the dishes every evening, so they start to expect us to.
This is the worst thing you can do for your LTR. If you want to be happy, get rid of the expectations. It doesn’t matter how often your partner does something. You should be pleased and excited whenever they do it. The truth is, no one owes each other anything (even in relationships), and if you’ve found someone who does certain things because they care and they love you, you are very, very lucky.
By ditching the expectations, you’ll not only make them feel more valued, you’ll also change your own view to naturally look at the positive aspects of your love.
2. Spend Quality Time Together
This sounds like a no-brainer, but it truly boggles my mind how many couples spend “time” together without spending quality time together.
Spending time as a couple shouldn’t always be about making plans, checking off to-do lists, or figuring out each other’s work schedules. It should most often be about just hanging out, like it was in the early days of dating, and talking each other’s ears off.
My husband and I are both professionals, we both have hobbies that take up a lot of time, and we have to, like, pay bills and stuff, so we normally have at least some adulting to discuss. But that’s not the majority of our time together. The majority of our time together is us just being us, hanging out and giving each other access to our brains. We do fun things that bond us as a couple.
3. Give Each Other Space
My husband and I are besties. Yes, we’re that gross couple who really likes hanging out with each other the most. That said, we also still have our own identities, and we intentionally give each other space every once in a while.
I’ll sometimes tell him that he’s being totally cranky, and I think it’s because he hasn’t gone out on his own to do something. He’ll tell me I’m being a little moody and that I might want to hole up without him and read a book. Neither of us gets offended at these discussions about space. Instead, we take it for what it is: a loving, caring partner helping us feel more like ourselves.
You don’t have to be attached at the hip to make your relationship a happy one. Instead, you should be giving each other healthy space to be yourselves and to miss each other.
4. Be Appreciative And Kind
When people ask me the secret to why my husband and I are so disgustingly happy, one thing I always say is that we’re both kind to each other — all the time.
Now, sure, that doesn’t mean we don’t get grumpy or annoyed or tired or hangry. It just means that despite all those things, we remember to be incredibly kind to each other. I love him more than anyone else in the entire world, so why wouldn’t I want to be as kind to him as I possibly could?
Too often, couples think that because they are together, they can take things out on each other, but that should be the last thing you are doing. You should be remembering to be sweet and lovely to each other every chance you get. It’ll make you both happier in the long-term.
5. Prioritize Sex
Don’t be that couple who feels happy together but then lets sex fall by the wayside. Healthy, happy couples realize that their physical connection is just as important as their emotional one.
When my husband and I first got married, we “joked” about trying to have sex at least once a day. When we realized that our sexual drives line up, it became less of a joke and more of something that just happened. Now, it’s one of our favorite things!
Don’t forget that your physical bonding helps makes everything else flow. Remember to prioritize sex to keep yourselves connected.
6. Be Open
Nothing good ever came from keeping yourself wrapped up and closed off in a relationship. The happiest couples are the ones who share themselves with each other, openly and honestly, and continue to be vulnerable over time.
Before I met my husband, I was never really interested in a long-term commitment to another human being. I thought relationships were stupid, in fact. But then, after I connected with him, I realized that I thought they were stupid because I never found the right fit.
With him, I realized that I wanted to be open and share things with him because I wanted him to be open and share things with me. Letting someone see the parts of yourself that you may not love helps you to realize they aren’t that bad, and it helps you start to heal.
7. Keep Your Relationship Sacred
In today’s society, it’s common to badmouth your partner to friends, even in jest. That’s one of the ways people relate to each other, by discussing how awful their relationships are. If your relationship is so awful that you need to talk about it badly with friends and family, maybe you shouldn’t be in it.
My husband and I never badmouth each other to our friends and family — not even something like, “Oh, he did this today, and it really bothered me.” We believe in keeping our relationship sacred, and one way we do this is to let everyone else know that no one compares to each other for us. Our friends and families are great and we love them, but the truth is, our marriage is number one to both of us.
To be happy in your relationship, you have to treat it like something unique and rare and precious. You have to treat it like something that you really value.
8. Put Each Other First
To be happy in your relationship, you have to help your partner be happy in your relationship. One way to do this is to put them first, as much as possible.
Don’t let work, school, hobbies, or other commitments get in the way of your love. The truth is, all of those other things are necessary for you to have a happy, well-rounded life, but you should remember to remind your partner as often as possible that they come first.
My husband and I have, as of yet, never canceled an event for the other person. It’s simply because neither of us asks for something so big, because we already put each other first so much that we don’t need that extra show of affection. I know that if, at any moment, my husband was out the door to do something, and I asked him to stay home because I really needed him, he would.
9. Value Who They Are
Don’t fall into the “if only” trap with your partner. “If only they dressed better.” “If only they were funnier.”
This will just lead to frustration and anger on both sides. Instead, spend intentional time every day valuing who your partner is, not who you want them to be. Value their positive traits (of which, I’m sure there are many) and be glad for who they are. If you can’t, then you might be in the wrong relationship. You should be able to happily value your partner without trying to mold them into something else.
10. Remember That Love Is A Choice
Traditional advice dictates that love is a thing that happens to us. We “fall” in love. We have no control over it, and it is what it is. Well, that might be partially true, but the decision to continue loving someone in a relationship is a choice. It may not sound as romantic as you would like, but the truth is, the key to being happy is deciding, every single day, to continue loving your partner.
My husband and I got married as basically strangers: We had only really known each other for eight weeks on our wedding day. But that didn’t matter to us because we had already decided that we knew the most important things we needed to know (each other’s good hearts and souls) and that the rest didn’t matter. We’d just continue loving each other every single day forever.
True love may be a matter of destiny, but making a relationship work isn’t. It’s a matter of choosing your partner, day after day, week after week, and month after month, until those all turn into years.
Being happier in your relationship is something you have control over. If you really want to know how to be happy in a relationship, the truth is that it comes from your own behavior and your own mind. By following the tips on this list, you can start being happier in your relationship right now.