When we first meet potential partners, we are very much in an idealized state. We are excited, in love, and hopeful. We want to see the best in each other and ourselves.
But we must not forget that we also come into our relationships with all of our emotional baggage, hurt, expectations, and ideas for what things “should” look lurking beneath in the shadows.
So, when I am working with couples, I believe that we need to explore the shadows. Get it all out there so we can honor our past experiences, let them go, and create a new, shared vision. We are two separate individuals joining into one, shared journey.
We need to be strategic and open – we need to create a strong foundation for a happy relationship. From here, we can build and to be clear on exactly where we are headed together.
A few questions to get you started
What past hurts / wounds might I still be holding on to and projecting on to my partner?
What did I learn about marriage and relationships from my family?
What does it look like when we are working as a team?
How do we know when we are not working together as a team?
What are the core elements of our vision we are creating together?
My two tips on how to have a happy relationship:
Create a shared vision together
So often, we come into a relationship with a clear vision of what we want. But we don’t always communicate that effectively with our partner. We may also not be entirely clear on what our partner wants either.
This can lead to a lot of arguing and feeling like we are on two separate paths. Remember, we are two independent individuals joining into one, shared journey.
To build a happy relationship, we need to create a strong foundation from which to build. For feeling content in a relationship, we need to get clear on exactly what we want and where we are headed together.
What are our shared core values? What are our non-negotiables? What type of work do we do? What is our typical schedule? What are our financial goals?
These are essential keys to a good relationship. They address the foundational elements of a happy relationship. They help you identify the shared vision for a happy, healthy relationship that you are nurturing together.
Identify and honor each other’s strengths/weaknesses
I believe marriage is successful when we can work as a unified team. We can’t expect our partner to be ALL of the things. One of the important happy relationship tips is that we should certainly never try to change our partner or expect them to become someone else.
Instead, to define our healthy relationship, we need to name our strengths and weaknesses. We need to look at where we can fill the gaps for each other.
Think of it like a football team – each player is assigned to a specific role. They can function and perform best as a group when everyone is focused on that particular role and how it supports the shared vision of winning the game.
It is the same concept in any happy relationship. We need to be clear about how we contribute to the shared vision for instilling happiness in relationships. I recommend writing this out together – naming how we each function best, our strengths and weaknesses, and then defining how we can support each other as we create our shared vision for life.
A happy relationship is a two-way street. It’s a shared effort and combined approach that act as keys to being happy in the union. In the video below, Katie Hood talks about the art of a healthy relationship. She says.
“While love is an instinct and an emotion, the ability to love better is a skill we can all build and improve on over time.”
It is important to understand how a relationship evolves with time. Therefore, every happy relationship should start with a strong foundation, understanding, and communication.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Jamie Molnar is the founder and owner of Be Your Best Self Thrive Counseling, a modern, holistic mental health and wellness practice in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has over 14 years clinical experience and is passionate about mental wellness, holistic health, and destigmatizing mental health. She utilizes a mind-body-spirit approach in her work to help individuals and couples reduce anxiety and stress, overcome trauma, improve their relationships, and learn how to develop positive attitudes towards lifes most complex and challenging circumstances.