One of my clients recently gave me an article about happiness that asked the question, "How happy can we be?" Pretty darn happy if I'm in love, you might say. But according to psychologists, about 50 percent of our happiness is determined by our genes, and amazingly only about 10 percent has to do with our actual circumstances. The other 40 percent has to do with what we do to counteract a seemingly natural tendency for us to stay at or around what psychologists term our "set point" or "base line."
In other words people tend to reach a goal, whether it be finding love, getting married, or making more money and feel a surge of happiness for a while, only to soon adapt back down to their "set point."
Relationships seem to go the same way for a lot of people. The beginning is like the fourth of July: all fireworks and excitement. But then, somewhere between changing diapers and paying the mortgage, couples lose their way. They forget it's their responsibility to their relationship--and their happiness--to continue cultivating the magic, and things become ho-hum. They just don't feel excited about each other anymore and thus feel less happy than they should.
Many people believe it is natural for the excitement level--and hence our happiness level--to go down after the new wears off the relationship. But since it is our beliefs that determine our reality, believing something more serving is a good idea if you want long-term happiness with your lover.
Another belief is that your relationship can get better and better as time goes on. One of my clients said that he is more deeply happy now than at the beginning of his relationship. He feels that the beginning was exciting and fun, but now, he feels "deeply content and peaceful" which is a "more fulfilling feeling." He says, "I love her more deeply now because I know her more deeply now."
It's true that the excitement in the beginning is new and so--well, it's exciting--and later there is less of that brand of fun. But the beginning is also part illusion; we are projecting our light onto our partners; we are seeing the God in them. We haven't yet seen their humanness, their insecurities and flaws. Seeing each other's weaknesses is perhaps not as exciting, but isn't it deeply profound that we can love each other, not only in spite of, but even because of our flaws? And as we feel safer and more secure with our partner, we can open to greater depths of intimacy. This intimacy though can only happen if we are paying attention to our relationship and nurturing it rather than allowing all the other demands of life suck the life out of our relationship.
There are many things that we can do to counteract the tendency to fall into relationship rut and be less happy than we deserve to be. It's really about taking responsibility for creating passion and desire rather than expecting it to just be there. Following are nine ways you can
1) Spend time regularly thinking about all the things you love about your partner, and share your thoughts with your partner. When we get stressed, it's easy to focus on what we find irritating. But it's important to make a conscious effort to shift your thinking to the positive and look for the best in your partner.
2) Take time each week to go on a date with your partner, to be romantic and sexy. And take time to make love. The more you do it, the more you want it. The less you do it, the less you want it.
3) Take time each month or so to experience something totally new with your partner, whether attending an interesting lecture, kayaking, or going to a new town. Experiencing new things adds a level of excitment to your relationship.
4) When discussing money issues--remember it's cited as the number one cause for divorce--set a time, go to the kitchen table, discuss it, and then let it go. If you haven't resolved it, set another time to discuss it in that way. Avoid letting it become a discussion in the bedroom or over dinner, and avoid any tendency to discuss it on and off throughout the day.
5) Promote intimacy by taking the time to be share your feelings, needs and desires, and be open to hearing about your partner's.
6) Dream with your partner, and set goals that you work on together to reach them.
7) Take time at least once a day to say thank you to your partner for loving you and for sharing life's journey with you. Take time for intimacy.
8) Deal with any upsets at the time they happen or soon after so that they don't fester and become resentments.
9) Always speak to your partner in a loving and respectful way.
Making a commitment to each other to do these nine simple things on a regular basis can keep you from falling into the relationship rut and feeling that you're not in love anymore. You and your partner can take the responsibility to keep the sparks flying and enjoy a lasting love. So right now, recommit to taking the time to nurture your relationship everyday so that like a beautiful garden that is well tended, it will grow and grow, and continue to bring you both happiness and joy, year after blissful year.
Article By: Pamela Ramey-Tatum