I really believe that the most successful relationships are those relationships in which each partner concerns themselves more with knowing and understanding what makes their partner(s) happy and focusing on making that happiness a reality in their partner’s lives (outward focus), rather than focusing more on what makes them happy (the it’s all about me attitude), what they are or aren’t getting, what others are or aren’t doing for them (inward focus).
(I’m not saying self-happiness isn’t important. It is important to be happy on your own. That is not what I’m discussing here. That is a whole other topic that I may, on another day, tackle.)
I’m talking about serving others, doing what you can to create happiness for your partners, taking the time and putting a genuine effort into enriching and enhancing their lives.
❖❖❖ There are four components to this recipe for success. ❖❖❖
❖❖ Balance: This has to be a two way street. This recipe only works when both(all) partners are focused outward instead of inward, when both(all) partners are committed to fostering happiness in the other(s), building the other(s) up.
Anyone who has ever genuinely worked hard to create a happy place for a partner or put real effort into focusing on the enrichment and betterment of a partner’s life, giving so much of themselves, without receiving the same in return can attest to the fact that, that is a recipe for disaster, burn out and self destruction. You cannot sacrifice your happiness on the alter of theirs. There must be a balance.
Giving so selflessly in this way continually in a one way flow would leave you empty and in need of having your own tanks filled. The catch to that is that you can only fill your own tanks so much (that self-happiness mentioned earlier). Humans were made to love. We are communal creatures. We need touch, we need encouragement, we need other humans. We need our tanks filled by other poeple. We are happiest when we are focused outward on the needs of others and open to allowing others to focus on our needs.
There is something undeniable in the success of that circular flow of focus.
❖❖ Knowing: You have to know what makes your partner(s) happy. That means you have to listen to them. You have to listen to them when they are speaking to you and telling you what makes them happy but you also have to listen to the little nuances of their words and behaviors to really find the things that make them happy. You have to pay attention to them. You have to concern yourself with them, with their happiness. You have to talk to them about what makes them happy. Ask questions. Dream out loud together. Pay attention to their dreams. Go places together. Pay attention to how the places you go affect them.
Don’t assume you know what will make them happy and try to give them that. Don’t guess. Don’t try to give them the things that make you happy. They are not you. What they need to be happy may be very different than what you need to be happy. What you think they need to be happy could be very different from what they actually need to be happy. Don’t assume, don’t guess, don’t slack off on the knowing. Pay attention to them. Pay attention to their words, their actions, their moods. Find what makes them happy and then give them more of that.
❖❖ Understanding: You have to be able to understand what you are seeing, what you are hearing when you start to pay attention. Ask questions. Listen to the answer. Ask more questions until you understand what they need to be happy. Use that knowledge to create happy moments for them, happy places.
❖❖ Focus: Quit focusing on what your partner is not doing for you. Quit focusing on all their faults. Quit focusing on their shortcomings. Start building them up. Look for the good in them. Appreciate the things they are doing for you, verbalize that appreciation. Find and focus on their strengths and help them develop those strengths. Focus on getting them to smile every day. Focus on making their life easier, better, more enjoyable.
I have no doubt that when you get your mind off of yourself and onto to serving and helping others, your life will improve… vastly.
It’s a big commitment to expend so much energy focusing outward and very contradictory to what is happening in the society we live in these days, goes against everything we see in the media, in our everyday lives, everything we hear, even against a lot of the things we are taught — either by our people or our environment or our circumstances.
So, maybe you’re asking yourself, what’s in all this happiness making for you?
Hopefully a happier partner, a more content relationship, less drama, less stress, better communication, more fun. Your efforts will most likely create a partner who desires to make you just as happy, a partner who wants to put in the same effort that you’re putting into making them happy, into making you happy. People who are appreciated, valued, and built up by those they love are almost always willing to do more than those who are not appreciated, those who feel they have no value to those who they love.
What if you pay attention and figure out what will make them happy and it turns out to be something that you just can’t give. Then what?
Communicate, communicate, communicate. Have the hard conversations. Talk it out. Be honest with yourself and with them. Be clear about what you need and what you can offer. Find places to make healthy compromises if possible.
If after every avenue of communication is exhausted and every healthy compromise is made you still cannot give them what it is that they need to be happy, then there might come a time where some hard decisions have to be made. But before you get to that hard decision zone, be really, really sure that you’ve really listened to them. Be really, really sure that you haven’t made assumptions. Be really, really sure that you weren’t just guessing.
What if you put in all this effort and your partner remains focused on themselves and the happiness making isn’t the two way street it really needs to be?
Communicate, communicate, communicate. Talk it out. Figure out how to get everyone working in the same direction.
What if your partner remains unhappy even after you genuinely put all this effort into making them happy.
Communicate, communicate and then communicate some more.
Sometimes, you won’t be able to love someone else happy. Some people just can’t get out of the what about me? what are you doing for me? what have you done for me? what are you going to do for me? what am i getting out of this? mindset long enough to really appreciate your efforts and allow their lives to be enhanced by them. Sometimes there are tough choices to be made. Continue loving them and trying to make them happy or separate yourself from the negativity.
Successful relationships are the ones where everyone is committed to making the relationship work, everyone is committed to enriching each other’s lives.
Introspection. Self evaluation. Brutal honesty with yourself and with those you love. Communication. Compromise. All bits and pieces to this recipe.