Relationships are challenging. And, after helping couples excavate their relationships for many years, I have unearthed a few treasures that can help you become happier with and more connected to your partner. The acronym H-A-P-P-Y H-E-A-R-T-S will remind you of each point.
1. H-Hold hands and hug. Even if you are not having sex, handholding and hugging will increase your endorphins (the feel good chemicals) that can calm you and connect you to your partner.
2. A-Accept. The grass is often greener in other couples’ pastures but, rest assured, those couples have their issues too. Focus on what’s working in your relationship, why you love your spouse and realize that nobody’s perfect– including you.
3. P-Power off and tune-in. If you and your partner are avid television watchers, turn off your set and take turns tuning into each other. Entering their world of thoughts and feelings for just a few minutes will make them feel cared for, lower their stress and connect them to you.
4. P-Play. Relationships can be intense and stressful sometimes. SO, make sure that you have plenty of fun times ahead. Plan little trips, outdoor activities or just snuggle time in bed together. Play and humor are bonding.
5. Y-Yell No More. Express your softer feelings. It’s easy to get angry at your partner but under the anger lurks feelings of hurt, sadness, rejection, fear, loneliness, betrayal, shame and rejection to name a few. Expressing the more vulnerable feelings will invite your partner to connect with you.
6. H-Help Your Partner. Asking your partner if you can put gas in their car, do the laundry or clean out the canary’s cage will make them feel like you are both parts of a team. Being thoughtful and considerate are ways we show love.
7. E-Expect less. Expectations cause disappointment and are born of “Shoulds.” There are no “shoulds” in relationships other than respect, honesty, and kindness. So, if you think your partner should take out the garbage, clean their sock drawer or tell you what a great cook you are, you are setting yourself up for some disappointment.
8. A-Allow. Allow your partner to feel bad. Don’t try to fix their depression, anger or hurt. If you caused it, apologize. If not, give them space to process these feelings. Once they understand them, they will feel better.
9. R-Reassure. Reassure your spouse that you love them, like them and appreciate them. Doing this daily will enhance your relationship happiness quickly.
10. T-Tell the Truth. Be direct. If you grew up in a home where children were seen and rarely heard, you might shy away from telling your partner how you really feel. Being direct can be risky but it can get you what you want, create a closer bond with your partner and help you feel more empowered.