Prefer to listen? Check out the related episode from the I Hear You podcast.
“If only my partner would do this, or stop doing that, I’d be happy.”
“So-and-so’s husband is always so thoughtful. Why can’t my husband be like that?”
“My wife always makes me so angry. Why can’t she just give me some space?”
Do any of these sound familiar? Do you ever find yourself feeling stuck, frustrated, resentful, or angry toward your partner? Or perhaps, instead of anger, you just feel bummed out that your relationship isn’t quite how you’d imagined it.
Whatever the case, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everyone else has a better relationship than we do, and that we have somehow been shortchanged.
Today we’re going to challenge that thought.
Who is Responsible for Your Happiness?
Let’s explore that question. Whose job is it to make you happy? Your spouse’s? Your girlfriend/boyfriend’s? Boss’s? Parents’? Children’s? Who has the power to make your day wonderful or completely ruin it?
All healthy relationships require a solid understanding of the following truth: You, and only you, are responsible for your own happiness. No one can make you happy or sad, no one can ruin your day, and no one can break your heart without you letting them.
Sure, people will do things you don’t like, forget important events, say unkind things, and otherwise not show up how you expect. All of that is real. What’s also real is that none of that directly affects your happiness. It’s how you choose to react to those situations that affects your happiness. Research has shown that happiness stems from our own internal interpretation of what is happening, and that we can therefore choose to be happy, even in the most difficult of situations.
William Shakespeare said it best:
“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”
Relationships are wonderful. They can add tremendous amounts of happiness to our lives. But we must be careful to not fall into the trap of thinking that we need a certain relationship to be happy in life.
A relationship in which one or more individual expects the other to “make” them happy is a breeding ground for manipulation, frustration, and disappointment. Partners in such a relationship will always feel some level of dissatisfaction or resentment, because their partner will never quite meet all their needs. If you’re expecting someone else to make you happy (or expecting to make someone else happy), you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
In contrast, a relationship in which both individuals own responsibility for their own happiness sets the stage for honesty, thoughtfulness, and selfless love. Partners in such a relationship work on becoming whole, complete, happy people on their own, and welcome a relationship as added friendship, support, love, and partnership. They take responsibility for their own needs by communicating them to their partner or addressing them themselves. This enables them to love unconditionally and give without expectation.
Better Relationships Start With You
The content on this site has one purpose: help people build strong, healthy, satisfying relationships. I invite you to take a look around, and put the principles, ideas, and techniques to the test. As you do so, take time to check in with yourself and your expectations. Are you taking responsibility for your own happiness? Or are you expecting others to make you happy? Are you reading the articles thinking, “my partner should really do this!” or are you looking inward, thinking “Ah…I can do this…”?
Got it? Try it.
What do you expect to get from current or future relationships? Are you looking for your significant other, coworkers, or friends to make you happy? If so, take a few moments to step back and figure out why. What can you do to begin to find happiness on your own, and bring a full, complete person back into the relationship?
Photo by Vera Arsic