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5 Secrets to Being Happier in Your Relationship That Don't Depend on Your Partner – Psychology Today

The question is not whether you’ll change; you will. Research clearly shows that everyone’s personality traits shift over the years, often for the better. But who we end up becoming and how much we like that person are more in our control than we tend to think they are.
Verified by Psychology Today
Posted April 29, 2022 | Reviewed by Tyler Woods
Every relationship has its ups and downs. In fact, life has its ups and downs.
That’s totally normal—we wouldn’t be human if we did not have these mood swings.
At times, you don’t even know why you feel down but you find yourself dreading getting up in the morning and are having trouble getting through the day. In any case, a little mood booster would be a good thing.
But you may not want to involve your partner because they’ve got enough on their plate or because you don’t want to impose on them. Or you may find that your partner is just not up for working on your relationship right now.
So, what can you do to be happier in your relationship?
Here are some suggestions to help you find more happiness in your relationship and everyday life without involving your partner:
Take a trip down memory lane and remember why you fell in love with your partner.
You got together with your partner for a reason. Remember? What was it like when you first got together? What did you cherish about them? What were the little things you adored?
Research shows that happy people remember happy memories more often throughout the day. Choose the memories you reflect upon and make this fact work for you.
With respect to your partner, make a list and keep it with you or put it in a drawer where you can find it. Look at it when you need a little pick-me-up or when your partner just did something annoying. Is it really worth getting so upset? Remember, and more importantly, keep in mind how lovable they are.
Sometimes, in the thick of everyday life, we just need a little break. Particularly the ones among you with children know just how precious a few moments to yourself can be.
Make some time for yourself or treat yourself. Yes, you deserve it. You are doing an awesome job day in and day out.
And don’t forget, if you’re not doing well then your partner and family are not doing well, either. That’s a fact that especially the mothers among us are prone to forget (myself very much included).
We’re not talking about heading off for the weekend or buying a new sports car; though if you can and want to, go for it. Rather, it’s those little moments that count. Take 20 minutes and read that book you’ve been wanting to finish for the longest time. Try the new chocolate you’ve been craving. Get takeout for the family so you don’t have to cook.
There are no rules, just pick whatever works for you. And keep going; make it a habit.
It’s no secret and it’s been confirmed in many research studies: When we help others we help ourselves because it makes us happy to help others. But it’s also no secret that, in everyday life, we’re often just too busy to remember this truth; rather, we get tangled up in our to-do lists.
Make a conscious effort to put your partner first. Is your partner stressed? Could they use someone to listen to them? Can you take the weekly shopping off their back? Haven’t they been interested for several weeks in trying that new restaurant?
Or, you could try to establish a new habit of paying it forward when something good happens to you. Share your happiness with others by doing them good as well.
You don’t have to constrain that effort to your partner. Your children and other people will be grateful as well.
There are so many benefits to positive thinking. It improves our immune system, it reduces anxiety, it makes it less likely that you will engage in unhealthy behavior, and it makes you happier!
And the best thing is: You have control over your thoughts.
Remember: You can find happy people everywhere, no matter where you go. There are plenty of happy people in poor countries and desolate living situations or other hard circumstances. There are chronically ill people who feel their life is worthwhile and consider themselves happy (as well as lucky). Life is what you make of it. Choose to make the best of your life.
Who said that your relationship has to be perfect? Or that the sun has to shine every day while you’re on vacation? Who says that your kids have to be well-behaved all the time and bring home nothing but the best grades from school?
That’s not what life is like. You may have the greatest expectations, and you may even feel you deserve perfection, but if you do, you will surely be disappointed.
Social media is often a driving force in people’s unrealistic expectations because it gives you an effortless peek into other people’s happiness. But remember: People rarely post when they’re at a low point in life, and a post of a cheerful photo with their dog doesn’t mean they had a great day.
Curb your expectations. Do you expect to have a flawless partner, or a relationship that is devoid of any conflict? Do you expect that your marriage will be a happy one without your ever putting in any work because you’ve found your perfect match?
What is it you need that really matters to a good life?
My children often ask me what I think makes a great day. At 11 years old, they find my answer slightly boring, if not incredible. But I’ll tell you what makes a good day for me: It’s a good day when everybody returns home safely and healthy from their endeavors, and when no disastrous event has befallen any of our family members.
That’s all it takes. And I can tell you, I have lots of good days in my life.
You may have different needs or expectations. But your expectations ultimately determine what’s a great day and how many great days you are granted—or you grant yourself—in life.
Facebook image: Tyler Olson/Shutterstock
References
Curry, O., Rowland, L., Van Lissa, C., Zlotowitz, S., Mcalaney, J., & Whitehouse, H. (2018). Happy to help? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of performing acts of kindness on the well-being of the actor. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 76. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2018.02.014
Otake, K., Shimai, S., Tanaka-Matsumi, J., Otsui, K., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2006). Happy people become happier through kindness: a counting kindnesses intervention. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7(3), 361–375. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-005-3650-z
Pressman, S. D., Kraft, T. L., & Cross, M. P. (2015). It’s good to do good and receive good: The impact of a ‘pay it forward’ style kindness intervention on giver and receiver well-being. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10(4), 293–302. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2014.965269
Karin Sternberg, Ph.D., is Research Associate at Cornell and CEO of lovemultiverse.com, a website on love. Her Ph.D. is from the University of Heidelberg.  Robert Sternberg, Ph.D., is Professor of Human Development at Cornell, holds 13 honorary doctorates, and has won the Grawemeyer and APS James and Cattell awards.
Get the help you need from a therapist near you–a FREE service from Psychology Today.
Psychology Today © 2022 Sussex Publishers, LLC
The question is not whether you’ll change; you will. Research clearly shows that everyone’s personality traits shift over the years, often for the better. But who we end up becoming and how much we like that person are more in our control than we tend to think they are.

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