Dr. Brenda Shoshanna, Ph.d.
Psychologist, Best Selling Author and Host: Turning The Tide Podcast
Usually we enter relationships hoping they will make us happy. We hope that this one is the right one, that we are not repeating mistakes of the past, and that finally we will receive the love, support and companionship we have been seeking.
Although this approach to relationships is normal, it usually brings disappointment because happiness comes and goes. It has to, because happiness depends upon circumstances. When things go well, we are happy. When we get what we want, when the sun is shining, others value us, our boyfriend finally pops the question, these are moments of happiness.
Joy is different. It doesn't come and go, or depend upon outer circumstances. When things are difficult, when our hopes are not fulfilled, it is still possible to feel joyful. Joy is a positive decision we have made about ourselves, and others. It involves taking responsibility for our lives and relationships. How much joy do you have in your love life? Here are five ways to find joy in relationships:
Stop Blaming Your Partner for Your Disappointments
When we're in a relationship, it's very easy to fall into blaming our partner for our disappointments, but it's one of the most significant ways we destroy our own joy and peace of mind. It is also one of the biggest ways we undermine the other person.
If you want to find more joy in your relationship, realize that if you are upset, it does not necessarily mean that something is wrong with your partner. Finding joy in a relationship comes down to understanding that it is your own expectations that have disappointed you. When we do not put heavy expectations on our partners, but are willing to spend time getting to know them and discover who they are, blame dissolves more easily. Other people have the right to be who they are and to express it. Your partner has not been put on this earth to make you happy. No one can do that, except you, yourself. Your partner is here to share life with, to learn to be open, accepting and to grow.
Discover the Art of True Giving
There is a huge difference between giving to another and giving so you can get something back in return. When we are secretly waiting for what’s in it for us, this is nothing more than manipulation. On the other hand, joy is based upon true giving. When we learn to give sincerely, it is almost impossible to be upset. The giving itself is its own return.
True giving means generosity with no strings attached. It's giving your partner something that he would like, not something that pleases you. It means taking time to know the person and being willing to meet his needs. Some people fear giving, feeling that they will be drained or stripped bare. But the opposite is true. The more we give, the more we have. Giving brings a sense of fullness and kindness, the basis for the development of joy.
There are many things that can be given, everything from time and attention to acknowledging what makes you happy in the relationship. Want to put this plan into action? Make a list of all the things you could give your partner. Then make a list of the things you'd like him to give you. When you see these two lists side by side, you'll be amazed. See if you can give your partner what they want, regardless of whether they can do the same for you.
Give Up Trying to Change the Other Person
The incessant desire to fix or change the other person is one of the biggest thieves of joy. Plus, it causes power struggles within relationships and issues of control. One person feels she cannot love the other unless the other changes. The other feels hurt, inadequate and as though something is wrong with him.
Finding joy in a relationship means having the ability to love your partner as they are. Our partners have been put here to grow, develop and discover who they are. This can be a lengthy and challenging process. But the surprising thing about change is that the less we push and disapprove of others, the more easily and naturally they grow and change.
Learn How to Really Listen
There is no better way of giving to another than really listening. Most of the time we hear what our partners are saying, but have no idea how to listen. Listening involves getting out of your own mind and truly being there with the other person. It means stopping the little voice inside your head (the one that always comments or thinks about what it is going to say next). It means stopping the inner arguer and becoming quiet and available. When you really listen to another, in that moment, you have given up your own expectations of what you want them to say or to be, and are able to be present for them. This is an enormous gift you are giving. In fact, to many, being really listened to
feels like being loved.
Give Up Trying to Change the Other Person
The incessant desire to fix or change the other person is one of the biggest thieves of joy. One person feels she cannot love the other unless that person changes. The other feels hurt, inadequate and as though something is wrong with him. The person who wants the change to happen becomes more and more frustrated as the other one withdraws or refuses to change for her. That's where the phrase, "if you loved me enough you would change," comes from.
Finding joy in a relationship means having the ability to love your partner as they are here to grow, develop and discover who they are. This can be a lengthy and challenging process. But the surprising thing about change is that the less we push and disapprove of others, the more easily and naturally they change.
Patience is an old-fashioned word in today's world.. However, there is no way to rush growth in relationships or in the development of joy. If you're eager to get on the right track, there are two ways to get started: Learn how to be more giving and make an effort to be a better listener. But each one of these tasks takes time to master -- and patience. That's why it is necessary to realize that as we are, right now at this moment, we are lovable and acceptable. If you're ready to increase the amount of joy you feel in your own relationship, take back the responsibility for finding joy in your life, you will be pleased at the results.