5 Ways to Create Joy in Your Relationship

Usually we enter relationships hoping they will make us happy. We hope that this person is the right one, that we aren't repeating mistakes of the past, and that finally we will receive the love, support, companionship and admiration we have been searching for. Each person has a shopping list of hopes and expectations, and while those are being fulfilled, everyone is happy.

Although this is kind of approach to relationships is normal, it usually brings disappointment because happiness is fleeting. It comes and goes. It has to, because happiness depends upon circumstances. When things go well, we are happy. When we get what we want, when the sun is shining, others value us, our boss is approving, our boyfriend finally pops the question, these are moments of happiness.

Joy is different. It doesn't come and go. It doesn't depend upon outer circumstances to be present. When things are difficult, when our hopes are not fulfilled, it is still possible to feel joyful. Joy is a premade, positive decision we have already committed to about ourselves, and the world we live in. It involves taking responsibility for our lives and relationships.

How much joy do you have in your love life? If you want to increase it and make your relationship stronger than ever, here are five ways to find joy in relationships:

Stop Blaming Your Partner for Your Disappointments

Do any of the following sound familiar? "If he would only bring me flowers on the weekends, I would be happy." "Doesn't he know how glad I'd be if he would just take out the trash, without being asked?" "He knows how mad I get when he comes home late, so why does he do it?" When you're in a relationship, it's very easy to fall into the pattern of putting your own feelings into your partner's hands -- but it's one of the most significant ways we destroy our own joy and peace of mind. It is also one of the biggest ways we undermine the other person.

If you want to find more joy in your relationship, realize that if you are upset or unhappy with your partner's behavior, that is your response, and it does not necessarily mean that something is wrong with him. Finding joy -- and releasing blame -- in a relationship comes down to understanding that, more often than not, it is your own expectations that have disappointed you. When we do not put heavy expectations on our partners, but are willing to spend time getting to know them and discover who they are, blame dissolves more easily. Other people have the right to be who they are and to express it. Of course, if it is best for you, you also have the right to wish them well and gently walk away.

Discover the Art of True Giving

There is a huge difference between really giving to another and giving so you can get something back in return. When we are secretly waiting for reciprocity, it is nothing more than manipulation. On the other hand, joy is based upon true giving. When we learn to give sincerely, it is almost impossible to be upset or sad. The giving itself is its own return.

True giving means generosity with no strings attached. It's giving your partner something that he would like, not something that pleases you. It means taking time to know the person and being willing to meet his needs. Some people fear giving, feeling that they will be drained or stripped bare. But the opposite is true. The more we give, the more we have. Giving brings a sense of fullness and kindness, the basis for the development of joy.

There are many things that can be given besides physical objects. Your partner needs everything from time and attention to acknowledgment and the chance to be right about something. Want to put this plan into action? Make a list of all the things you can give your partner. Then make a list of the things you'd like him to give you. When you see these two lists side by side, you'll see the difference between what you'd give someone in the hopes of satisfying your own needs and what would truly make your partner happy.

Give Up Trying to Change the Other Person

The incessant desire to fix or change the other person is one of the biggest thieves of joy. Plus, it causes power struggles within relationships when an issue of control develops. One person feels she cannot love the other unless that person changes. The other feels hurt, inadequate and as though something is wrong with him. The person who wants the change to happen becomes more and more frustrated as the other one withdraws or refuses to change for her. That's where the phrase, "if you loved me enough you would change," comes from.

Finding joy in a relationship means having the ability to love people as they are. Our partners have not been put on Earth to please us, or make us happy. They have been put here to grow, develop and discover who they are. This can be a lengthy and challenging process. And of course there are times when our partners surely display their worst sides. But the surprising thing about change is that the less we push and disapprove of others, the faster they are able to change because they don't have to resist us.

Learn How to Really Listen

Speaking of giving generously, there is no better way of giving to another than really listening. Most of the time we hear what our partners are saying, but have no idea how to listen. Listening involves getting out of your own mind and truly being there with the other person. It means stopping the little voice inside your head (the one that always comments or thinks about what it is going to say next). It means stopping the inner arguer and becoming quiet and available. When you really listen to another, in that moment, you have given up your own expectations of what you want them to say or to be, and are able to be present for them. This is an enormous gift you are giving. In fact, to many, being really listened to feels like being loved.

Give Up Trying to Change the Other Person

The incessant desire to fix or change the other person is one of the biggest thieves of joy. Plus, it causes power struggles within relationships when an issue of control develops. One person feels she cannot love the other unless that person changes. The other feels hurt, inadequate and as though something is wrong with him. The person who wants the change to happen becomes more and more frustrated as the other one withdraws or refuses to change for her. That's where the phrase, "if you loved me enough you would change," comes from.

Finding joy in a relationship means having the ability to love people as they are. Our partners have not been put on Earth to please us, or make us happy. They have been put here to grow, develop and discover who they are. This can be a lengthy and challenging process. And of course there are times when our partners surely display their worst sides. But the surprising thing about change is that the less we push and disapprove of others, the faster they are able to change because they don't have to resist us.

Develop Patience

Patience is an old-fashioned word in today's world of instant technology, where quicker is better. However, there is no way to rush growth in relationships or in the development of joy. If you're eager to get on the right track, there are two ways to get started: Learn how to be more giving and make an effort to be a better listener. But each one of these tasks takes time to master -- and patience. That's why it is necessary to realize that as we are, right now at this moment, we are lovable and acceptable. If you're ready to increase the amount of joy you feel in your own relationship, release the power that you've given your partner and his actions, and take back the responsibility for finding joy in your life, you might be surprised at the results.

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