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The Secret to Being Happy in Your Relationship

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Ravi is a traveler and foodie who loves to visit off-the-beaten-track places and understand the culture, history and customs behind them.

Exactly seven months ago, when the COVID-19 lockdown was announced, we were the happiest couple on earth.

Whew!! 21 days of lockdown.21 days to rest, have fun, have great sex, and no freaking responsibilities what so ever.21 days,24 hours of togetherness is too good to be true!!! It was a god-sent opportunity and we were in no mood to waste even a second of it.

To give you the background…...

We are a high-flying, globe-trotting pair of software professionals constantly on the move. Saying that we live out of suitcases, hotels and airports would be an understatement of sorts.

Our lives revolve around our grueling work routine and we unabashedly take pride in aligning our personal and family lives according to it. It gave us a sense of power and makes the microscopic remnants of our personal and sex lives as something that needs to be guarded zealously without any interruptions what so ever.

Yes, holidays and available time on weekends (Yes, we work on weekends also) are sacred to us. We squeeze every bit of the time into having great sex, great lunches, and of course surprising each other with exotic gifts.

We take turns to plan for the “home meetings” as we called these scraps of time playfully and BDSMs, silk blindfolds, exotic massages, and exciting short vacations at exotic locales make each of these “home meetings” something special, to be remembered and cherished about.

Friends, colleagues, frenemies, and relatives envy us as we post our pictures on Facebook and Instagram and we take turns to gloat at every occasion that we are the one-of-the-kind workaholic couple who have managed to have a rocking relationship despite the odds stacked against us.

Then, the lockdown came, locking us together for 21 days,24 hours a day. Yes, initially the first few days were fun; great sex, great food, and freedom from travel. Then the chinks in our armor got exposed.

We found that to our surprise, we hardly knew each other even after ten years of togetherness. What we knew about each other was the picture we wanted to convey to each other during our brief moments of joy; the happy, go-lucky, fabulous couple who loved living life to the fullest.

We never really bothered to strike an honest conversation with each other and get to know the real person inside both of us. We were both living a life of fast life, fake utopia, and bubble-gummish happiness and pushing our critical feelings under the carpet, hoping they will go away. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen that way and the resentment just kept on bubbling inside us till it exploded out during the lockdown.

Yes, it wasn’t an easy period for both of us but the silver lining was that the lockdown taught us to have real conversations with each other and more importantly exposed our faults glaringly in front of each other which strengthened our relationship. We now feel happier and grounded with our relationship on a much firmer footing.

And here are the things you should talk and do with your forever person so that the two of you stay connected, happy, and in love over the course of your relationship.


Ask open-ended questions

Imagine your loved one asks you this question at the end of a tiring day.

Did you enjoy your day today?”

Your reaction? You will mumble-jumble either “yes” or “no” and push off. The conversation dies and an opportunity is lost.

That is why a simple technique that can enhance your ability to create better conversations—especially with your partner is to ask open-ended questions. For example,

How did you enjoy the day today?

In what ways did you go about conducting that negotiation today?

Tell me about that new business luncheon place you visited today?

And so on……

Asking open-ended questions encourages the person you’re conversing with to think deeply and therefore to be more engaging because open-ended questions allow the respondent, not the asker, to control the response.

There is no automatic canned response involved here as the door for direct connectedness is flung wide open. As a result, the conversations end up being more vulnerable, deeper, and meaningful.


Be genuinely interested in the other person

Great conversations need genuine curiosity within you. Forced conversations never work.

As a psychologist Todd Kashdan, author of the book Curious?: Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life, tells us.

"Being interested is more important in cultivating a relationship and maintaining a relationship than being interesting; that's what gets the dialogue going. It's the secret juice of relationships."

And scientific studies have conclusively proved that curious people have better relationships, connect better, and enjoy socializing more. In fact, other people are more easily attracted and feel socially closer to individuals that display curiosity. And when you ask questions, quality also counts.

Webb says that good conversations need to find something interesting about the other person, something that you can follow up on with interesting questions of your own.

Don’t talk only about yourself. If you only talk about yourself, you are just bragging about yourself and not showing the slightest interest in the other person. Bragging only pushes your better half away, making them feel that you are increasingly out of their league and outside their reach, plunging them into auto-rejection.

The best conversations begin with showing an interest in the other person, their world, and what they might value.


Lastly, don’t expect your partner to read your mind

I used to think that if my girlfriend had even an iota of common sense, she will know how I feel deep inside. But I was wrong and that wrong assumption created resentment inside me.

For example, I remember that day when I had come from the office with a splitting headache. I wasn’t feeling fell and she had just pushed a shopping bag onto my hands and had told nonchalantly “Honey, go and buy some groceries now. Here is the list.”. I did not protest but deep inside, I felt that she should have at least enquired about my wellbeing.

Yes, try as we might, humans aren’t great at reading each other’s minds. Get used to this fact and don’t expect magic to happen. You really can’t assume that your partner knows how you feel or what you want. You both are different human beings and you don’t share the same feelings, worldview, or thoughts. So, when in doubt, say it out loud.

Yes, you might argue here; this will lead to conflict and I don’t like conflict. I will rather do the damn work and let peace prevail. You are wrong if you do this. This is not peace but escaping from problems and it’ll only gradually erode your own happiness and, in turn, the relationship.

A healthy relationship is a two-way street and If you don’t have any arguments, or one side is always directing the traffic, you are riding on a one-way street without any communication. That’s not something to cheer about.

Remember, in a good relationship, you don’t always have to agree with the other person, but at least you’ll both be on the same relationship page.

As Leo F. Buscaglia has rightly said.

“A loving relationship is one in which the loved one is free to be himself — to laugh with me, but never at me; to cry with me, but never because of me; to love life, to love himself, to love being loved. Such a relationship is based upon freedom and can never grow in a jealous heart.”

Comments

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on January 28, 2021:

Yes Dashingscorpio you nailed it rightly.

dashingscorpio from Chicago on January 28, 2021:

I believe the big secret is to:

Know yourself, Love yourself, Trust yourself

If you do all the above you will have a mate selection/screening process and "must haves list" for choosing a mate that is in line with your core value system and wants what you want.

Compatibility trumps compromise.

Like attracts like and opposites attract divorce attorneys!

You will not tolerate being mistreated.

Each of us (chooses) our own friends, lovers, and spouse.

Nothing happens until (you) say "yes" to someone.

Choose wisely!

No one is "stuck" with anyone. Suffering is optional.

The goal is to have a "soulmate" not a cellmate.

"Never love anyone who treats you like you're ordinary."

- Oscar Wilde

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