The Cheat Sheet for Happy Relationships

by Rachael Harris, Psychologist Artius Ipswich

Relationships can be wonderful sources of joy and happiness. However, over time, relationships can start to lose some of the initial spark and ease that they once had. Here is a cheat sheet of some things you can try to help create a happy relationship.

1.Don’t take things so seriously. Relationships can become stiff and serious over time. Try to see the fun and silly side in things.

2.Do something nice for your partner.  Nice actions increase the positive feelings in a relationship and are more likely to promote nice actions from your partner in return.

3.Always make time to say hello and goodbye. Take a moment to hug or kiss your partner when they leave or arrive home. This is a simple gesture to show your care and affection.

4.Problem solve rather than argue. Talk about key issues calmly and identify and discuss all options. You can work out the pros and cons of each option and use this information to make a decision about the best option, rather than simply arguing your point.

5.Make time for each other. It can be hard to find time for one another in your busy life. However, create opportunities to enjoy each other’s company. Perhaps you can take one night off from watching tv or using social media and spend that time with your partner instead. Or, maybe you can put the children to bed half an hour earlier one night, so you can spend time together.  

6.Communicate with each other in an open, honest and respectful way.  Good communication is a key element in successful relationships. Take out the guess work for your partner by letting them know what you are thinking and feeling. However, make sure you communicate in a way that is loving and respectful to your partner.

7.Brighten up their day. Take the opportunity to do something little to brighten up your partner’s day. For example, you could write them a note and put in in their lunchbox telling them something that you love about them, send them a funny meme that you know they will like or give them some clues for them to guess where you are taking them on your next date.

8.Reminisce about how you fell in love. Take time to tell each other about what drew you to them in the first place (i.e. their eyes, their laugh, their sense of humour, everything!)

9.Recreate the spark. Try to recreate a special moment that you experienced in the initial stages of your relationship (i.e. a special picnic, a trip to a fun park, a beach trip, etc).

10.Challenge your unhelpful thoughts. It can be easy to jump to conclusions and expect the worst of your partner at times. However, thoughts are just ideas, they are not necessarily wise or true. Only you can decide whether you want to hold onto or believe in an unhelpful thought that is harmful to your relationship. If not, you can challenge and replace these thoughts.

11.Celebrate special occasions. This acknowledges the big achievements in your relationship and helps you and your partner to feel loved and valued in the relationship.

12.Be creative with your dates. Relationships can feel like they get stale and predictable over time. Add some interest to your dates. For example, you can create a $20-30 date night where you each take turns at planning a date within that budget. This can lead to some interesting and creative dates!

13.Make the change. It is easy to become set in your ways with bad behaviours. If your partner raises a concern with you about something that you do, and it would not be against your values to make a change, do it. To help you make the decision to change, ask yourself ‘Is this behaviour really worth hurting my relationship?’

14.Make it up. Try to think of your very own hot tip for creating a little extra joy and spark in your relationship.

These are just a few tips for creating a happy relationship. Take the two week challenge and try a new one of these tips each day. Why stop there? Try to develop your own relationship cheat sheet. You will be surprised about what a difference a few small changes can make to your relationship to show you love and care about your partner.