It’s not your job to keep your partner in good spirits but as a loving and caring partner, naturally, you want to do things that enrich your partner’s life and make them happier. What I wanted to discuss is how you as a partner can help to make your partner happy. Your partner’s happiness isn’t your responsibility, but it can’t hurt your relationship to try to be a supportive partner.
I like to think that happiness splits into these 3 major factors:
Connections, Contentment, and Craving.
Here’s what I mean by each:
These are your relationships with friends, family, coworkers, peers, etc. Anyone you socialize with on an amicable level.
By this I do not mean a general apathy with your current situation. What I do mean is that you are currently happy with your situation.
Whether it’s work, your lovelife, your apartment or home, etc.
Here’s an example. Two people have similar lives. They both earn 50k a year, they’re both married, they both have 1 child, and they both own a home in the suburbs. 1 person wants to pursue a career change to increase their pay but their current salary does not impact them negatively. The other person also wants to pursue a career change to increase their pay but this pursuit has made them unhappy and cynical. Being completely happy with your current situation is contentment, being happy with your current situation but wanting more is also contentment, being unhappy as a direct result of your wanting is NOT contentment. Still with me? Okay, lets’ move on.
No, I don’t mean food cravings. By Craving I mean passion or strong desire. People with a passion tend to be happier people. So what can you do to keep your partner happy? The simplest things to do are:
Listen, Encourage, and Compliment.
It sounds basic, but let me dig a little deeper.
What you need to do is to listen, encourage, and compliment your partner, especially when it comes to their Connections, their Contentment and their Cravings.
Here’s an example from my own life on Contentment:
Recently, I was unhappy with my career path. My girlfriend took the simple principles of Listen, Encourage, and Compliment and applied them to my ongoing job search. The listening part was simple.
I would vent about my previous job and she would listen. She then encouraged me to pursue a new job and finally complimented me on the efforts I made.
I’ll tell you this, never did I feel more happy with my girlfriend than when I knew that I had her support and encouragement through a pretty stressful time in my life. Needless to say, I’ve moved on to a career I’m happy with.
Enough about me, let’s talk about how you can apply the principles of Listen, Encourage, and Compliment into use in your life.
The key to listening is to engage in active listening. If your partner is describing something to you, ask follow up questions. Don’t interrupt them while they talk, just save your questions for later. Avoid splitting your attention with Facebook or Instagram. When you’re listening you want to Listen only.
I cannot stress this next part of Listening enough, especially to my male readers. Guys tend to do one thing when our partner tells us about a problem: We try to come up with a solution.
So Guys, let me you this, have you ever been talking to your partner about an issue they’re facing, you offer a solution, and they somehow get MORE upset?
I’m guessing it’s happened once or twice. The thing is, sometimes people are talking to vent, not to try to solve a problem. The trick here is to say “Do you want to vent or do you want to vent and get my advice”. It’s that simple.
This one is simple, just encourage your partner. If you disagree with a choice but it doesn’t negatively impact you, your partner, or your relationship, try to tell them that you support them in what they’re doing.
Here’s an example: You don’t like the fact that your partner writes a blog about dating but you support them nonetheless. They write on their free time, the cost of upkeep is minimal, and it’s a pursuit that they enjoy.
Now remember, compliments don’t have to be only physical in nature. You can compliment someone on their intentions, their efforts, their progress, their attitude, their disposition, etc. The one thing you want to avoid is flattery. Your compliments should be sincere and honest. Don’t get stuck in a pattern of complimenting just because you think you should. Try to think of why you’re complimenting your partner. Think of the things that they do that make you proud to be with them. You can compliment your partner on how attractive they are but (I’m hoping) that’s not the only reason you’re together. Try telling them how great they are as a friend, or how wonderful they are at making your favorite meal, and so on.
Now the 3 Principles to keeping your partner happy, here are some examples on how to put them into action. I’ll apply them to Connections and Cravings:
As I’ve gotten older and older I’m finding that more and more of my friends are getting married, having kids, or just experiencing life changes in general. Because of this I’ve found that connections to friends takes a little more work than it did 5 years ago. So of course, I did what any almost 30 year old guy would do; I joined a Fantasy Football League. What better way to maintain connections than by paying money to trash-talk each other? Anyway, my girlfriend has about 5% interest in football and 0% interest in fantasy football. Even so, on the day of the rule setting for the league and the Draft day, she had no problem with me going out and having a raucous boy’s night. In the days leading up to the draft she asked about fantasy football and told me several times that I would win the draft. After the draft she asked about the prize structure and my odds of winning and assured me that I could win the championship. Fun fact: I’m 100% confident I won’t win the championship. Even so, my girlfriend listened to the boring details of fantasy football, encouraged me on my drafting and odds to win the league and complimented me on having a good draft.
There are a few things I’m passionate about and one of them is Comics. I think you know where I’m going with this by now. I’ve talked my girlfriend’s ear off about comics so let’s just say that after having met me she knows more about comics than most people. She listens when I go off on nerdy tangents, encourages my fandom (i.e. “let’s go see Guardians of the Galaxy” or “let’s go see Sin City”), and is often complimentary of my rudimentary drawings of my favorite characters.
If you’re wondering how to keep your partner happy, there you have it. Every person wants to be listened to, loves encouragement, and enjoys a sincere compliment. If you apply these principles to their need for Connections, Contentment and Cravings you’ll have a happy partner on your hands.
Good Luck out there.