Five Things You Can Do Right Now to Make Your Relationship Happier

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Have you started taking each other for granted? Do you wish there was more affection and fun in your relationship?

KEY POINTS

  • Saying “I love you” is always appreciated, but expressing gratitude toward one’s partner also goes a long way.
  • Touch helps romantic partners feel connected and strengthens a relationship.
  • Taking a walk or hike with one’s partner, especially when there is something important to discuss, can ease tension.

Show Appreciation/Gratitude


You may sometimes say “I love you” and that is always appreciated. But, showing what,
specifically, you love is even more treasured. For example, if your partner spontaneously
cleaned up a messy room, say you noticed and you appreciate it. You don’t always have to give a compliment—just show you noticed something specific that your partner has done or said and that it meant a lot to you. Oh, those are tasks my partner is supposed to do you may think.

But, saying you appreciate what your partner does shows you are aware of what your partner
contributes to your relationship. These expressions of appreciation can go a long way toward
giving you currency in the bank when you have to resolve differences in the future.


Some couples have a nightly “gratitude session” where they express what they are grateful for
in their lives and grateful for in each other. Even if you don’t do this nightly, having a weekly
scheduled time to express gratitude can not only help your relationship but can uplift your
spirits so that the stresses of daily living can be lessened.


Give an Empathic Response


Everyone wants to feel they were really heard. When you repeat back the essence of what you heard, your partner feels you listened and understood what was communicated. Instead of giving your quick response, take a moment to let your partner know what you heard. That will clear up any misunderstandings and bring you both closer together.


Don’t Forget the Warmth of a Smile and of Touch


A hello kiss upon coming home from work, some cuddling in bed at night, and a goodbye kiss all signify your partner is important to you. We all need touch to feel connected to each other and doing so strengthens our relationship.


Make Time for a Date Night


Your relationship is more important than your work or the kids. Yes, you have to make time for
them but your relationship can get squeezed out with attending to all their daily activities.
After all, the kids are going to leave someday but, hopefully, your partner isn’t.


Set aside time for just the two of you. You may have a romantic dinner at home when the kids
are reading in their beds before falling asleep. Or you may get a babysitter and go out to dinner or out to a movie or a play.

Schedule a Fun Event at Least Once Every Two Weeks


Find an activity both of you enjoy, and participate in it together. Each of you can write out a list
of what you enjoy doing outside of the house. Then compare your lists. There may be some
activities that overlap or are similar. Then consult a website such as Meetup.com to find an
activity in your neighborhood.

Another way to spend meaningful time together is to volunteer together. Giving to others
moves you out of yourself and your own problems while bringing you closer together through
this shared activity.


A fun event does not have to cost money. You can just take a walk. Taking a walk or hike
together can help ease tensions, especially when you need to discuss something important.
Walking encourages talking and you often can come to a solution or a helpful compromise
during your walk.

Assumptions that Cause Disillusionment

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You might see your partner and yourself through the lens of many assumptions.  Then you begin to act toward your partner in ways that confirm these assumptions.  Instead of changing your assumptions, you become disillusioned that love is not what you thought it should be.

Loving relationships never follow a smooth path but there are some assumptions that make dealing with the bumps even more difficult. Some of these assumptions may be only yours or some of them might be shared ones. Look at the following assumptions about love that can hold you back from fully loving and check off those that ring true for you.1

  • Someday My Partner Will Find Someone Better Than Me

You don’t trust that your partner will always love you.   Your insecurity then leads to jealousy and suspiciousness that alienates the very person you want to love you.

  •      I Need Everyone’s Approval to Feel Worthwhile

This assumption keeps you in a submissive position in order to be approved.  You have given your partner tremendous power—-the power to approve or disapprove of you.  In doing so, this assumption is self-defeating because it stops you from being able to grow in the relationship.

  •      I Can’t Feel Happy and Fulfilled Without Being Loved

Tremendous insecurity results from this assumption because there will be times you will not have your partner in your life or your partner’s love.  This assumption may cause anxiety just thinking about the possibility of losing love.  It makes you feel like you are walking on egg-shells.

  •        If I Don’t Meet All of My Partner’s Expectations and Demands, Disapproval and Rejection Will Follow

When you have this assumption, the relationship becomes a burden that eventually leads to resentment.  Either you continue to be a slave to your partner’s demands or you run away, carrying this assumption with you, to start the whole process over again with a new partner.

  •       My Partner Is Not What I Need

You find your partner lacking so you try to make him into what you want him to be.  You look disapprovingly or nag when he does not do what you want.  Does this get you what you want or does this change him?

  •       If My Partner Rejects Me, It Proves That There’s Something Wrong with Me

Sure, rejection does not feel good, but that rejection might say everything about your partner and nothing about you.  You have magnified the result of your partner’s actions into feeling devastated instead of seeing it as a momentary glitch in your relationship.

Dealing with Assumptions So They Do Not Derail Your Relationship

All of the above assumptions can be changed once they are recognized as just assumptions and not a reflection of reality.  Your assumptions are just the way you see yourself, your partner or the situation, not the way you, your partner nor the situation always is.

Furthermore, these assumptions often are not expressed.  Instead of telling your partner, “I need your approval in order to feel loved,” you say “You’re always criticizing me.” What would happen if you stated your assumption out loud?  Maybe your partner would not feel so attacked and would, instead, understand a little more about where you are coming from.  So, by recognizing, stating, and changing your assumptions, you can change the way you love.

You can challenge each of the above assumptions by replacing them with a more helpful one.  For example, instead of assuming that you have a deficit that will cause your partner to find someone else, you could assume that you are lovable and just need to make sure your partner sees this. Indeed, what would happen if you assumed you are loved even when there isn’t someone in your life presently acknowledging it?  In a subsequent post you will discover how to see yourself as lovable independent of your partner’s actions.

Do you assume that you have to meet your partner’s expectations and demands?  You could, instead, assume that your partner is capable of meeting her own needs.  Then you would just show your partner how she can meet her own needs.

Finally, assuming that you and your partner are okay just the way you are can go a long way towards avoiding the conflicts that occur when you are depending on your partner to fulfill your needs or trying to change your partner.

  1. Burns, D. D. (1985). Intimate connections: The new and clinically tested program for overcoming loneliness developed at the Presbyterian–University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. New York: William Morrow & Co.