Relationships are a two-way street. We strive to make our partner happy and be someone they can rely on, and in turn we hope they’ll do the same for us. But that doesn’t mean that our happiness in the relationship is completely out of our hands. In fact, there are things we can do individually – today – to give our relationship satisfaction a boost.
- Stop comparing your relationship to others’.
Whether it’s through social media or just the assumptions and judgments we make about other couples’, it’s easy to start making comparisons. “They seem like they never fight.” “They’re always doing fun stuff together.” “His/Her spouse is probably way more understanding than mine.” These types of assumptions aren’t productive—and more than likely, they’re not 100% true.
Remember that social media isn’t a realistic representation of others’ relationships. You’re only seeing the highlight reel, not the day-to-day grind. The number of happy couple pictures is not a gauge for how happy you or other couples are. Every relationship has its challenges, and you’re probably not seeing them as you scroll through your feed.
- Check your expectations.
Sometimes our own unrealistic expectations set us up to be unhappy. Maybe it’s because of the comparison and assumptions we mention in #1. We expect our relationship, our partner, or ourselves to have it all together all the time. That’s unfair to everyone, and you’re bound to be disappointed! You and your partner are both going to make mistakes. Embrace imperfection, and challenge yourself to see all of the ways in which your partner and your relationship are actually pretty darn great.
If you feel that your expectations are realistic, then make sure you’ve communicated them! Uncommunicated expectations are often just as unlikely to be met as unrealistic ones. (Check out our Discussion Guide for Couples for great ways to cover this topic!)
- Practice some self-care.
In order to be the best partner we can be, we need to take care of ourselves – emotionally, physically, spiritually. If we’re feeling fulfilled as individual, we are happier and have more in our tank to give to others, which has a reciprocal effect. Take time to do things that make you feel happy and balanced, and support each other in doing so. Whether it’s a favorite hobby, time with friends, or some quiet time alone, make it a priority.
Research shows that it’s completely normal for satisfaction levels to rise and fall throughout life stages and transitions. If you find that you are consistently dissatisfied in your relationship, we encourage you to seek help from a professional. Sometimes it can be just what you need to get you out of the rut you’re experiencing.
If it’s just occasional, mild dissatisfaction you’re experiencing, that’s also totally normal. It can be empowering to realize that there are small things you can do as an individual to refocus your perspective and see your relationship in a more positive – and more realistic – light.