During the early stages of a relationship, happiness comes pretty naturally. You’re seeing someone new, you’re super excited about them, and everything you do together feels easy, romantic, and fun. But after months of getting into a routine with your partner, you can start to learn things about each other that aren’t so perfect. Maybe they have habits you really don’t like, or maybe you struggle to be vulnerable about certain things. You’ll inevitably face some hard times — but the good news is, this doesn’t have to destroy your connection. These tips for feeling happier in your relationship can help you remember why you fell for your partner in the first place.
Contrary to what it might seem, happy relationships can take work. Most couples who seem blissfully joyful together are super intentional about the ways they communicate. If you and your partner aren’t willing to express your needs and desires to each other, you can start to feel like you’re out of touch and disconnected, experts say. So, if you want to add happiness back into your partnership, do it on purpose! Try implementing strategies to be more open with each other about what brings you joy. The more you feel a baseline of trust and loyalty in your relationship, the more you can let down your walls and enjoy each other.
That being said, you should never have to force happiness with your partner. If you are truly miserable, it might be time to rethink the relationship entirely. Sometimes, things just aren’t right, and all your efforts won’t result in a meaningful change in your partner’s attitude or behavior. In these scenarios, you should feel empowered to make whatever decision is best for your life.
But for those couples who just need a little fresh energy to bring the joy back, behavioral scientist Clarissa Silva shares her best tips for making your relationship happier.
1. Keep learning about one another.
Think you know everything there is to know about your partner? Think again! Silva explains that relationships should be a constant learning process. “One of the key elements about a relationship is that it should make you a better version of yourself,” she tells Elite Daily. “When you find someone that enhances you in ways that you were always hoping for, that is the beginning of a long-term successful relationship.”
If you continue to try to learn and grow together, you can keep your dynamic from feeling stale. “Celebrate that you both are curious to learn one another in ways you hadn’t wanted to in the past,” Silva suggests. So, ask each other creative questions you've never explored before. Try creating a Love Map. Plan a date night in an unfamiliar setting and see how your partner reacts to the challenge of something new. As you discover new levels of emotional intimacy with each other, you’ll continue growing closer — which will bring both partners joy.
2. Talk about the hard stuff.
Believe it or not, talking with your partner about sad or painful things can actually make you happier overall. “When you are in a healthy relationship, you are more able to address things that you are unhappy with,” Silva says. “You feel more invested in the outcome of the relationship and are more willing to deal with the challenges of the relationship.” If you address conflict head-on rather than letting it fester in silence, you can grow your trust and confidence in your bond.
Sure, you won’t feel happy in the moment when you’re working through an argument together. But in the long run, your ability to work through challenges can reveal a lot about whether you’re compatible with someone. And emotional compatibility is key to romantic happiness.
3. Let your walls down.
Everyone has insecurities they want to hide from others. But in order to be truly happy with someone, you have to let them see a side of you that you might rather not reveal. Of course it’s risky to trust someone with your heart, but Silva says that in the right relationship, it will be worth it. “With each person you encounter you are taking a risk, but with the right person, the chemical process that is occuring within both of you complement each other,” she explains. “This goes beyond what most people think of as ‘love at first sight.’ It is a continuous feeling of comfort that creates ease about taking risks with that person.”
And this level of comfort is something you can create with intentional effort. Make it a habit to tell your partner exactly how you’re feeling, even when you’re scared of how they might respond. With time, when you feel comfortable enough to let your guard down, this level of communication and honesty will start to come naturally.
4. Establish an equal and supportive partnership.
Obviously it makes sense to treat your partner with love and respect. But you need more than just admiration to develop a stable and trustworthy bond. When you know your long-term goals are aligned, you can grow together without growing apart. “You are willing to create shared life outcomes,” Silva explains. “You create plans to achieve your goals that include both partners taking risks and gaining rewards as a result of that risk.”
In order to feel happy in a long-term relationship, you need to feel like your goals and dreams are being supported and encouraged by your partner. This isn’t to say compromise won’t be necessary at times, but you should never feel like you have to sacrifice your entire future to be with someone. You’ll only end up bitter and frustrated as a result.
With loving care and intention, you can put these practices to work in your relationship and develop a happier bond. And remember that you won’t be happy with someone every second of every day — people are people, and no one can be the perfect match for anyone else. But in a relationship that is worth working for, simple habits can be the catalyst for higher satisfaction between you and your partner.