Even the happiest couples aren't perfect; there are always ways to improve relationships. Aria Gmitter and our friends at YourTango have compiled 11 ways to be happier and more in love that can help anyone in a relationship.
Even when it's hard!
But after a while, it can be hard to be truly happy in a relationship. Problems arise, conflict is inevitable, and nobody is raised with a handy manual for how to stay happy and in love with a partner.
Intimate relationships have a strange way of revealing flaws — both in ourselves and our partners.
As your relationship matures (especially after children enter the picture), habits or personality conflicts arise while living together. Next thing you know, there are problems that make happily ever after seem more like never happy again.
It's easy to say that you'll love one another unconditionally, but it's a whole lot harder to do when you're in the thick of living real life together. The truth is, unconditional love is not the same as loving every single part of another person. I started to understand this much better after reading Andrea Miller's book, Radical Acceptance: The Secret to Happy, Lasting Love. Ultimately, it's about finding peace within yourself by no longer attempting to control what others choose to do.
So how does radical acceptance look when you practice it? Well, it'll vary for every person and every situation.
To help us understand, we asked our YT Experts to shed some light on what blocks joy from entering in truly loving relationships, and how that joy can be released in a real-life love. Here are 11 of their fantastic answers:
1. Ditch the notion of perfection.
"When we learn to let the perception of perfection go and accept our partners as they are, we ultimately find happiness. Accepting that the relationship we have with our partner is not going to be perfect is the first step.
Many traits can be hard to overlook, but when we are with our partner and they make us feel truly loved, cared for and safe, that outweighs the annoyances."
2. Before blaming your partner, find another way around the problem.
"That wistful absent-minded behavior that is endearing and adorable when you are dating becomes as irritating as nails on a chalkboard when you move into the same space day in and day out. We can help ourselves and our relationships by finding easy solutions that resolve potential conflicts and don't force anyone to change who they uniquely are in the world.
We must leave our inner egos and need to be right out of the discussion in order to create a happy ending. One such example was when my new husband dropped the toothpaste cap down the drain when he moved into my apartment in a Historical Landmark building.
Conflict averted when I managed to retrieve the cap from the drain and purchased future toothpaste with an attached cap to prevent another incident. To quote Big Hero Six, "find another way around the problem" that serves you well.
3. Recognize when you need to step away and detach.
"When confronting challenges in a relationship, there is sometimes the tendency to believe there are only two choices: either change the other person or turn yourself into a pretzel trying to please them.
The act of detaching, however, can eliminate the battle and soften the suffering. It is often the most effortless, effective and loving option there is."
4. Learn to listen to more than just your partner's words.
"People are not their behaviors. Looking beyond the behavior, and knowing what their intentions are, is one form of respect.
Communication is talking and active listening — listen with your heart, your eyes, and your ears. When you listen to what was being said (and intention), and not what you believe about the person, true bliss and love that your relationship deserves can become a reality."
5. Embrace each other's individual right to choose joy (or right not to).
"Your happiness is not dependent on your partner's behavior. Don't let their behavior be an excuse for you to be unhappy.
You are always responsible for your own vibration. You can do this by seeing your partners light, their goodness, no matter how they behave."
Ingrid DeHart is a Nutritional Coach, Food Blogger and founder of Eat Well, Enjoy Life. Visit her website for delicious, healthy, easy recipes and powerful transformational processes or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. Practice the art of self-acceptance and self-check your need for control.
"Stepping into self-acceptance is the first gateway to compassionate relationships. Start by accepting your own shadows of self-indulgence, messiness, indifference, fear, anger, addictions, control, dependency, neediness and work through that.
Evolutionary relationships require trust, in order to lead the way to lessons, and wonder to open to the magic of growth. Know and accept your partner's love language, respect their space or their need to express and recognize he/she is human too and cannot be molded to your perfect image."
7. Anticipate that sometimes things don't go as planned, and that's okay.
"Remember that your partner is not you, and is a fallible human just like the rest of us. The question you have to ask yourself is "Do I love him?" If the answer is yes, then it is time to actually love him.
Treat him with love, compassion, and acceptance rather than complaints, anger, and manipulation. You'll both be happier!"
Linda Dieffenbach specializes in empowering you to overcome the patterns and habits that keep you feeling stuck and overwhelmed with your life. Her areas of training and expertise include emotional trauma, personal empowerment, self-care skills, stress management, healthy relationships, and effective communication. Interested in working with Linda? Visit wellnessinharmony.com.
8. Be mindful of the impact of your complaining.
"Accept whatever trait you are complaining about! At least for now, it's making you both miserable to complain. Choose to focus on being grateful for what he does do. What do you really want — to make him wrong and be right or to have love? When you stop complaining, you'll be happier and so will he, and he might just do what you want because he wants to do it to please you.
Stop making him wrong for not giving you love, attention, happiness. Look at what you really need and share what you need and why it is important. And then ask him what he needs from you. A happier relationship means you are both giving to each other. Thank him for whatever he does even if it isn't exactly what you wanted. You catch more flies with honey (gratitude) than with vinegar (complaining)."
Marilyn Sutherland is a Personal Development, Leadership, and Relationship Coach. If you're ready to make a change, email Marilyn at email@example.com for a one-on-one appointment to see how she can support you on your journey.
9. Accept that being all things to each other at all times is a myth.
"The distinguishing qualities of a great husband, lover, financial partner, or father to your babies are just not the same as those of your best friend. So can we please stop insisting that he wear your best friend badge, too?
I mean it's romantic to say, 'today I marry my best friend' in your wedding vows, but it's really way too much pressure to put on your life partner. And likely you'll end up pissing off at least two bridesmaids who lived through a couple of past boyfriend dramas with you — and maybe even held your hair last night after too many celebratory martinis.
Healthy people have hobbies and deeply connected friendships outside of their romantic lives. Strong, independent, sexy people are attracted to strong, independent sexy people. Want to keep your long-term marriage interesting? Have some adventures on your own. Give your man the same room.
Forge friendships and networks that have nothing to do with your husband or kids. Then come home and revel in the mystery you've both created. Best friends tend to share clothes and, over time, look alike. Think 20, 30 years down the line and imagine what matching khakis and reading glasses will look like. (Please, shudder.)
Still insist on living with your best friend? Get a dog. Want a long lasting sexy relationship? Do something that excites you on your own. And accept that he needs to do the same."
Sharon Demko is a Co-Active leadership coach, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and professional trainer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Sharon works with clients one on one, or in teams in organizations, to build strong minds, bodies and spirits. For more info, visit www.sharondemko.com.
10. Love with a "no matter what happens" mindset.
"A trait we should all aspire to have is the ability to show unconditional love. Unconditional means that no matter how they respond to you in their moments of frustration, you love them . . . unconditionally. When they say or do something to you to intentionally hurt you because of an internal struggle with their own hurt, you still love them . . . unconditionally.
I am in no way inferring that this is an easy attribute to attain. After all, it is not something with which we are born; it is a learned skill. However, to achieve a happier and healthier relationship — emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually, this is the 'who' you must become. Once you are that person, the sky is the limit to your happiness and all your future endeavors."
11. Decide to make things better every day.
"Radical acceptance is always a stretch — that's what makes it radical; as such, it's both a gift and an act of courage. You, however, need to be realistic and set yourself a target you can actually reach.
So consider three traits in your partner that you find difficult; rate them from hard, to hardest to accept. Then pick one that you feel willing to truly open your heart to; then make a decision go beyond your own self-interests, and accept that aspect of them."
Steve Vinay Gunther has 30 years experience in helping people transform their relationships. He is author of the bestseller Understanding the Woman in Your Life, and teaches Gestalt therapy in 10 countries. He sees clients from around the world by Skype. You can act now to get support from him in taking the next step in your life.
— Aria Gmitter
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