Learning how to have the relationship you want and be happy with your partner is a skill you can practise and get better at. The more you practise the more success you’ll have and the happier you’ll become.
Here we’re looking to make a good relationship great. Or maybe your relationship isn’t so good, but you just know it can be. Well, go for it because by applying new habits and reacting differently to your partner you’ll take your relationship to new heights.
You can do this on your own or with your partner – if you think he or she will be interested. If not, just say nothing and make your own changes, and you’ll see the differences reflected back at you as your partner’s behaviour changes in reaction to yours.
Part three: How to Have the Relationship You Want by Making Your Relationship Better
So, you’re in a relationship but not so happy? You can make a difference. You really can have the relationship you want.
While you can’t directly change somebody else, by changing your own attitude you create a knock-on effect and positive changes occur in those around you. It’s up to them to change but it’s up to you to choose your own actions to create the right environment for that change.
I Love My Partner, But I’m Not Happy
This is where you really have the power to make a difference. If you love your partner but are trapped in an unhappy relationship, you can make changes to improve your relationship.
When things aren’t going so well in a relationship, it may be because you fundamentally aren’t suited, or it may be because along the way you developed negative habits, or perhaps you simply haven’t learnt how to make things better.
Remember, you always have choices. Sometimes you’ll get irritated because such-and-such was really infuriating, but that’s just human, that’s not the problem.
The problem usually comes from much more frequent issues from either person, like continual nagging, moaning, not listening, not respecting, not sharing quality time, being defensive because you think you’re being attacked etc.
So allow yourself to have some human mistakes but take action to change your general negative habits and make a positive impact on the relationship.
If one person in the relationship takes the time to really think and engage in conscious decisions to improve the relationship it will get better. It’s impossible that it doesn’t.
The only way to fail with this system is if you stop trying. You forget. You give up. You slip back to old ways. Then you’ll get your old results. But if you use mindfulness to create positive change, you’ll get positive change.
Your partner will change because you’ll invite him or her to change. Not demand but invite. And he or she will accept without even knowing it. But it won’t be instant and it won’t be quick. You must allow time for new habits to grow.
Take action! Steps for Creating a More Loving Relationship
Don’t just read the steps and move on. That’s not enough to create change. Make a note of them in your notebook and next to each point write a few personal examples that resonate for you.
By analysing and writing down your own personal and specific set of circumstances you’ll have a better picture of applying this in your life.
Once you’ve made the notes, choose the top three for you and set yourself those three as your starting goals.
Practise your goals consciously throughout the day. You could choose to do this together with your partner but unless he or she’s likely to be interested in this kind of thinking, it’s better to do it completely privately, without saying a word. Just start to implement the changes and watch the transformation begin.
When you’re comfortably applying three of the points, start adding more, until you are incorporating all of them into your life.
Listen to your partner
Listening is powerful and it’s something that’s way under utilised. People get into the habit of switching off and not really hearing their partners. How many times have you nodded while not really listening?
Pay special attention to your partner’s words. Re-kindle your interest. Do it deliberately and consciously. Notice how he/she responds to your new attention. Don’t exaggerate your attention or expect any kind of thank you, just be interested in listening.
You won’t be able to manage it all day every day but be sure to become mindful of listening and you’ll be one step closer to having the relationship you want.
Accept your partner
This means completely, with all of his or her little faults. It doesn’t mean you approve of things that you don’t agree with – it just means that you love the whole person and recognise his or her faults.
You love him or her even though he/she can be bossy or grumpy. You accept that he has those tendencies and next time he’s bossy you remember that is one of his challenges – let it go – he will grow out of it when he’s ready.
As you start to accept the negative characteristics you’ll find that the negative behaviour get less and less frequent. When you react less to something it has less momentum to be re-created.
Forgive your partner
Forgive your partner for his or her faults and mistakes. We all have them. This one’s so important. Choose to move on (even when your inner voices are screaming at you that he should be punished for daring to do that to you).
Choose happiness over punishment. Choose forgiveness over resentment. Above all Forgive and let go. Remember, this refers to all those faults your partner has that make up a person you love.
This isn’t about forgiving terrible behaviour but forgiving human mistakes. Choose happiness at the earliest moment possible for you.
Also remember that forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to agree with his or her actions. You aren’t condoning by forgiving. Be clear that such-and-such behaviour isn’t acceptable to you but don’t re-create it over and over again. You can forgive and then later have conversations about your feelings and what you think and feel about his actions.
People think that by forgiving they’re losing the battle. But you don’t want a battle, so think more about getting the results you want (getting different behaviour) and maintaining a good vibe. Don’t worry about being RIGHT. What makes you win is when you’ve turned the argument around, created a good atmosphere and followed up with a pro-active conversation about how to avoid a repetition of the situation.
Want the best for your partner
It should be obvious that you’d want the best for your partner, but actually it often isn’t the case.
Many people think they want the best, they say they want the best and they believe it’s true, but they don’t actually want the best.
They want punishment. They want to correct and to change and to bully or nag. They want to control and complain. They want to be right.
Wanting the best for your partner means you want your partner to be happy, period.
Don’t treat him how YOU want to be treated
No, instead treat him how HE wants to be treated – they’re two completely different things.
Many couples give the behaviour that they want to receive and don’t realise that it just isn’t what their partner actually wants. So both partners don’t actually like what they receive, so they give more and more of what they want to receive, and actually giving more of the unwanted behaviour.
Change that. You can both have different rules, different requirements, different likes. You can be different people with individual needs. Maybe he wants to ignore his problems and she wants to talk about them.
So he should give her the opportunity to discuss her problems with him and she should give him the opportunity to stay quiet about his problems if that’s what he wants.
Ignoring him when he’s got problems will feel wrong because it isn’t what she would like to receive. But that’s the point. Give the behaviour that fits your partner. Recognise this difference and try to fulfil your partners needs instead of your own.
Expect the best from your partner
Give the benefit of the doubt when there’s a possibility. Expect the best and get the best.
Feel gratitude for having your partner in your life
Think about it. How would it feel to be on your own?
Having someone you love in the house gives your home a completely different energy and atmosphere than if it were just you, on your own.
Be grateful for the company. Be grateful that you have someone to share your journey with.
Appreciate your partner
Compliment, smile, say I love you, or whatever’s natural to you when you appreciate someone. Consciously recognise that this person is part of your life. That you’re lucky to have him or her walking along beside you to share these moments with.
Show your appreciation and you’ll be surprised at the results. Don’t demand appreciation back, just let things go naturally. Make it your daily custom to recognise that you love your partner, both out loud and silently to yourself.
Improve Your Communication
We fall into habits of poor communication and by recognising these habits we can take action to change them. You’ll see huge changes happening when you pay attention to how you communicate your desires and complaints to your partner.
Follow these steps to change your communication habits and really see how to have the relationship you want.
Avoid starting sentences with the word ‘YOU’
Think about how you say things and instead, change it round to begin with I. Most people state what they don’t want, rolled into an accusation (you don’t xyz) and this invites a defensive answer from their partner who may well throw in an insult for good measure.
Instead of saying, You never do what you say you’re going to do. Change it round to I would love you to do this; it’ll be great.
And instead of saying, You never pay me any attention, say, I’d love to have more attention from you.
Say these things without an undercurrent or secret agenda.
Don’t use always and never to describe your partner’s faults
Deal with the moment or your words become a character assassination, and how can anybody defend themselves from an accusation that they are always xyz? (If I’m always xyz then why are you with me?)
Exactly, not inviting the most positive of answers, is it! So deal with the moment and talk specifically about that: I felt quite embarrassed when you told our friends my personal things. I’d prefer you to let me choose if I tell that stuff. (Instead of: YOU always tell our friends my personal stuff.)
Don’t expect your partner to do or be everything you want
Accept that you have to compromise on some things. Accept compromise on the little things but not the big things. Don’t accept behaviour that breaks your fundamental core beliefs. But for the small stuff? Let it go and move on.
Actually you can also compromise on some of the big stuff as long as it’s part of a positive whole picture. Big things can change with time. But don’t sacrifice your true beliefs.
Avoid throwing insults around when you argue
Insults just hurt feelings, they don’t create any positive change. If you love your partner, why would you want to insult them? Even if you’re angry. It may happen, but try to avoid it as much as possible.
Don’t interrupt each other
If possible discuss things when you’ve both calmed down. Listen to your partner and instead of interrupting, let him or her finish what he’s saying. Listen. Be present, even if you disagree with the complaint or criticism or whatever.
If it’s really difficult not to interrupt, make an agreement together that you can only speak when you’ve got the pencil in your hand (so you have to pass it over to your partner when you’ve said your bit). You’ll be quite surprised how much you learn if you do this.
When you partner does something you don’t like, wait until you’re calm to tell him how you feel. If that’s not possible, say your thing and then find some space on your own to unwind. Remind yourself that it isn’t important. Give it perspective.
Many people get caught up in a relationship where they break up-make up on a continual roll, without even realising what’s really happening. They continue the cycle because they don’t know how to break it. But you can. It can be done. And you can have the relationship you want, just by making some persistent changes.