Many of us (especially us ladies, let’s be honest), are on the lookout for our fairy-tale ending in a relationship. We are convinced it’s possible because we have watched our fair share of romantic movies, read the novels and even, dare I say it, compared our relationship to others that have seemingly ‘perfect’ relationships.
But you see, herein lies the problem. If we subscribe to ‘societies’ definition of love, we end up constantly disappointed. That’s because our relationships don’t match up to what our minds expectation has set, so we are always focussing on lack, rather than what we have. So how do we shift our mindset and create more lasting, happier, relationships?
Positive psychology is great for this. Based on decades of studies around what makes people thrive and what connects them to others, it encourages relationships to be nurtured, focussing less on lack and more on what we have. It promotes ways on how to develop lasting love with others, for the now and the long term.
So, when we look at how to adopt positive psychology interventions into our relationships, we look at how we can use positive feelings, experiences, and events in our relationships, to maintain that happy balance and lasting love.
However, let me be clear, this isn’t a one-sided thing. It does take both parties to get involved. You have to be on the same page and willing to work together for this to work.
Here are just a few things you can start to build in right away:
1. Create more positive emotions with one another
The need for communication, support, and empathy in a relationship is crucial. It’s one of the key foundations of any relationship. Things happen, that can have a negative effect on your relationship, but it’s understanding whether they are fixable, and if they are, how you can both foster an environment where you focus on the positive aspects of the relationship and have more empathy and understanding for one another.
Remind yourself of the reasons why you came together in the first place, and some of those emotions you used to share together such as joy, laughter, and interests. Do more of the things that created those positive emotions in your relationship, and work towards sustaining them. The more things you do in the relationship which bring out positive emotions, the happier you are both likely to be together. But remember this doesn’t mean masking unpleasant emotions and putting them aside. It’s always important to acknowledge and communicate your feelings about those also, but get into the habit of discovering and implementing ways you can create more positive ones.
2. Recognise one another’s strengths
One of the key factors within positive psychology, is understanding and building on our strengths, and when we bring those into a relationship it can be powerful. When we identify, give recognition, and appreciate our partners strengths (it’s probably those things that brought us together in the first place after all), it reinforces our commitment, satisfaction, intimacy and encourages expansion of those strengths within them.
Take some time out to tell each other about one another’s strengths and look at ways you can implement more into your relationship. In circumstances where you might be having challenges in the relationship, ask how you can use your strengths to work through them.
3. Savour moments and appreciate one another
This is one of my favourites, and is seriously underestimated in strengthening any relationship.
We all know how great it feels to receive a compliment, and some of us are better at giving and receiving compliments than others. If your partner compliments you accept it graciously. It will encourage them to give you more, and it will make you feel appreciated. And when they do, ask them why that act resonated with them. When you both get into the habit of doing this, it allows you the opportunity to learn about what you each value in your relationship.
And when we are in those moments, when someone does something nice for you, or you have a moment where you are enjoying one another’s company, savour it. Sometimes we notice it, appreciate it for a split second and then move on to something else. But the trick to cultivating more positive emotions together, is savoring the ones you already have.
Remind yourself regularly of all the nice things you do for one another, or events, experiences you both have. Take a moment at the end of the day to share it with one another. Keep photos and other mementos around, that remind you of all the positive aspects of your relationship, so you can savour your best memories, any time.
We should all strive to build positive relationships in our lives, and take time to remind each other of the qualities and strengths that we appreciate about one another.
Appreciate the little and the big things and look at ways you can expand on those things that create positive emotions within each other. It may not be your fairytale relationship, but it will certainly build the foundations for a happy, loving environment.