These 3 R’s Let your Happy Relationship Bloom Naturally


By  Jamie C. Williamson, PhD

Spring symbolizes rebirth and reminds us of the constant opportunity to refresh and renew our lives and our relationships.

And, if couples don’t get too caught up in “making” a happy holiday, they can use the accompanying spring break to relax and reflect on how to refresh their daily priorities, renew their relationships, and let their  “happy”  bloom naturally.

The 3 R’s of Relationship Improvement

Despite what people say, people don’t really learn from experience. Instead, they learn from reflecting on their experience.

Think about it.   Unless they reflect on their experiences, couples just make the same mistakes over and over again.

To renew their relationship, couples have to truly think about how their life could flow more easily and be filled with the simple pleasures that constitute true happiness, not the manufactured kind. This type of reflection usually begins with one person, who later shares it with the other.

So, this spring break try to capture some relaxing time for yourself and so that you can truly reflect on your relationship. Does your marriage seem routine?  Does your spouse seem like your roommate and not your best friend and the love of your life?  Do you fight about things that don’t really matter and avoid talking about the things that do?  Have you let the kids activities monopolize all of your discretionary time?  Have you let your own interests take away from time you could (and probably should) be spending with your partner?  Have you let financial concerns keep you from finding creative ways to bring simple joys into your relationship?

Whatever life stage or circumstance you’re now in, to let your “happy” bloom naturally again, you first have to identify the patterns you would like to improve, think honestly about what small changes would make a big difference, and keep in mind, that it might be YOUR approach that needs to change.

Once you have identified the existing patterns that interfere with the easy flow of happiness in your relationships, select the one non-threatening pattern that you believe — if changed — would bring a sense of renewal to the daily life of your relationship.  Later, you can address the other issues you identified.   Do one at a time, because the increased happiness you feel from the first change, makes subsequent changes easier to implement.

Begin to change the interfering pattern by refreshing the way you and your spouse/partner approach the issue involved. This will, of course, require you disclose what you’ve been thinking about to your partner.   The trick is to initiate the conversation with what’s called a “soft start-up”.  A “soft start-up” addresses the issue directly and head-on, but does NOT include criticism or blame. Begin with an “I” statement and say, for example, “Things are so hectic for us these days, I really miss having time to just hang out with you.  Will you help me figure out some small changes we could make in our routines so that there is more time for us to just be together?”

This refreshed approach will not work if your partner feels blamed for your discontent. Be sure to use the soft start-up and take the time needed to create a safe conversational zone. Then, don’t be surprised if you learn that your partner has been feeling the same way.

When couples refresh their approach to managing the daily patterns in their lives, they are able to reprioritize the allocation of their time, energy and finances; recapture time to invest in their relationship; and, create a sense of renewal and base-line happiness in their relationships. When this happens, couples don’t even think about how to make happiness, it just blooms naturally, like spring, every day.

So, share this post with your partner, brush up on the 3 R’s that let happy relationships bloom naturally, grab some couple time, and “work it out“.

And, Let me know if I can help.

 You’ll find me at Amity Mediation Workshop, where we facilitate divorce, family, and civil mediations.  We also are authorized to use the Gottman Relationship Checkup as we conduct transformative, psycho-educational Marriage Refresher Courses  with our clients who want to stay together, but restore the joy in their marriage.



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