How to Have a Happy Relationship
Relationships Require Work, But It Doesn't Have to Be Hard
When you let someone into your life it is naturally going to be a change and an adjustment for both parties. It doesn't matter what your sexual preference is and it doesn't matter what stage of the relationship you're in (dating, spending weekends together, moving in together, getting married, or having kids) there will always be some things that need work, some things that are frustrating to one of you or both of you, and some things that just plain make you feel crazy.
Over the years I've given relationship advice, received relationship advice, and taken the time to just observe relationships in various stages of happiness and growth. The following includes a few pieces that I think can be applied for how to have a happy relationship no matter what stage of the journey you're currently in. There's also a section at the end of this article where I would love for you to share your favorite relationship advice, or even to ask a question if you'd like...
Make Your Expectations Very Clear
Say Things Out Loud!
If you expect something to be a certain way in your relationship make it known and make it very clear. Be up front about the expectation and why it's important to you.
I can't tell you how many times I've had friends say to me, "I want it to be this way...," or, "I expect him/her to...," and when I ask them if they've told their significant other that they expect this and feel this way the answer I hear back is, "No, he's supposed to just know."
The truth is we're not mind readers. Your other half isn't always going to intuitively know exactly what you want. Sometimes it needs to be said out loud, especially in early stages of a relationship.
Sure, in some situations they will know, that's just natural as someone grows to know you. But if you're not up front, honest, and clear about your expectations they can't ever get to that wonderfully magical "just knowing" stage of things because you haven't even let them in the front door yet.
Stop Comparing Your Relationship to Your Friends Relationships
Focus on YOUR relationship, not OTHER relationships
Every person is different, so every relationship is different. What works for your friend isn't always going to work for you. What's best for your sister isn't necessarily what's best for you.
Stop comparing every detail of your relationship to other relationships around you, or worse to relationships you see on television or in a movie - all that comparison is just inviting drama and trouble over for dinner at your place.
I'm not saying not to admire other relationships, that's perfectly fine and totally normal to do when you see a happy couple. But don't compare your situation and don't try to be exactly as that other couple is.
You need to focus on your own relationship. There is no magical roadmap or blueprint to a perfect relationship. It's an adventure and you figure it out as you go.
Take Money Out of the Equation
More arguments in a relationship are over money than anything else.
If you take the money out of the equation you may very well find yourself with nothing to argue about! Problems with money can create stress and strain on any relationship if expenses are being shared. If you sit down early on in the relationship and set parameters for how money will be handled in terms of expenses and you stick with your plan then there will be nothing to argue over in the financial category.
My husband and I never argue over money - ever. That's not an exaggeration, that's the honest to goodness truth. We figured out what works best for us and that has made it much easier to discuss finances, plan for the future, and avoid those silly arguments that happen over money. This has been especially helpful during times when the budget is tight.
Do Whatever Works Best for YOU
Again, don't worry about other people's relationships, focus on yours
I know that I'm repeating myself a bit here, but the core principle of having a happy relationship is doing what works best for you and your partner. My husband and I manage our money much differently than most couples, our friends and family all think we're strange and that our relationship must surely be stained if we can't even share a checking account. The fact of the matter is neither of us cares what they think and, quite frankly, it's none of their business anyway! We do what works best for us and we're quite happy to do so. We're not arguing over what to pay when, how much to spend on this or that, and our dinner conversation doesn't include dollar amounts - it's blissful.
This principle doesn't just apply to your finances - it applies to everything. It may take some experimenting every now and then, but when you find what works best for you in a situation then stick with it. There are no relationship laws that dictate how you should handle the day-to-day experiences of life, so go with the flow, find your path, and follow it wherever it leads you - as long as you do so together with love and joy in your heart then you'll find success and happiness.