When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one and a lily with the other.

~ Chinese Proverb ~

Happy With Your Partner?

October 7th, 2011 ~ Est. reading time: 3 mins, 25 secs

How happy is your relationship?

Are you happy with your husband, partner, or secret other? That’s if you’ve got one of course. You might not and choose not. So for you, the question would be best put, “Are you happy without a partner?” But that subject leads down a different path.

If you do have someone, then you probably have had your share of ups and downs. Personally, I think of the topmost layers of relationship happiness as a moving feast. On the “Yes I am happy” scale, the rise and fall of your feelings follow a fold out list of desirables that could easily reach the floor. You might be semi-consciously rating how thoughtful he is right now, how appreciative he is of your efforts, and whether he is treating you with tenderness or not.

On the other hand, the triggers for your happy feelings might be more mundane. Did he put the garbage out and tidy up his mess in the kitchen? Did he remember to put the cat out (For that matter, did he even know it was on fire?)? Or, to cover all bases in the relationship stakes: is he pulling his weight?

Plot it on a chart and you might see you were very happy with him last night. But this morning, you discovered he had lazily hung his clothes on the imaginary air-hook. Not so happy. But then he got the shower going for you and even put toothpaste on your brush as a thoughtful gesture. Sweet. Happy meter rising again. Hang on. What’s this? He threw his smelly socks in the bottom of the bath for some reason. What’s more, he took the towels and left them all wet. How thoughtless! Now your happiness rating is taking a spiraling nosedive.

Whether you feel happy about your partner or not can vary enormously, even in the space of minutes.  Yet despite our routine rollercoaster ride of emotion and perspective, we might be so used to it we barely realize it’s happening.

Of course, grading how happy you are in relationship like this isn’t enough on it’s own. It’s just too shallow to endure all the fraught exchanges living together creates. I mean, we all have our moments. You might just happen to believe that the seat should be down in the smallest room, but most men will tell you “up” is best (for the record I believe in seat and lid down; but that might be too much information).

Anyway, to be happy in marriage, partnership, or whatever you want to call it, takes a deeper understanding than whether your significant other is pleasing you. As nice as that is – and we all need pleasing at least now and then – it’s the knowledge that they have qualities you love and appreciate that makes a relationship last. Yet how often do we consider that by appreciating we are making our bit count?

When Western wedding vows say, “For richer, for poorer. In sickness and in health…” we get a good framework. But not much guidance about being happy.

To my way of thinking, being happy begins elsewhere. You communicate it in your relationship and nurture it according to your expectations and acceptance.

But I, like most, have spent many a time expecting my partner to make me happy; though I know that’s mistaken. I’m in charge of that. In a real sense, each one of us is in charge of how happy we choose to be.

Assuming you are not in an abusive relationship, then happiness comes down to the decisions you settle on. To a surprising degree, I believe we can each choose to remain happy with what we bring to our relationship; even if our partner doesn’t come to the party.

Sure, unhappiness and disappointment are a profound source of relationship pain. No question. But steering our expectations toward graciousness at least gives us some control.

Finding what works and what we value in our relationship is where a more stable and mature form of happy understanding springs. The scrapes we face in relationship are bound to take the happy gloss off our expectations. But that’s what it takes to steer relationship toward something great. Our expectations – as desirable and reasonable as they might be – need polishing. Which is what sad times in relationship do.

There’s a line in the Bible’s Old Testament that puts it well: “As iron is to iron, so is man to man.” Meaning, relationships of all kinds are tough. But the toughest of all is the 24/7 togetherness you have with your partner.  Either you face things or you flounder. As the proving ground for your happiness to mature there is no greater test than being together. So when it comes to your most intimate relationship, being truly happy takes a generous amount of will as well as plenty of work.


So what is your experience of relationship? How do you balance your desire for happy times with the hard times you’ve had?


Comments are closed.