Bring happiness to your relationship

This framed print was in my hotel room in San Francisco. It says "blue skies smiling on me" a gazillion times. Or maybe more like a hundred times or fewer. I don’t know, but it says it a lot.

Some people think I am too happy of a person. I am exceptionally content most of the time and I think that’s just my nature (I have a very happy mom and had a very happy dad, too). Even when things went wrong, they usually found their ground.

One thing psychologists are continually seeing in their work with clients as well as in research is that happiness, to some extent, both individually and in our relationships can be influenced by our attitudes and our actions. In most cases, you can help to make yourself happier. You probably already know this… but are you practicing it?

Some time during the day – on most days, if you can remember to – try to think of at least one reason why you are grateful to your partner, if you have one. Did he or she have coffee or tea ready for you in the morning? Did your partner play with or otherwise occupy the kids in the morning so that you could sleep in? Did he or she forward you an article that was up your alley? Did he or she hold you close in the middle of the night, or ask if you were okay when you got up at night to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water? Focusing on positive things about one’s partner can really help your relationship rather than focusing on the negative ("why does he/she always leave their mail on the counter?").

Even if you don’t have a partner, gratitude is a good skill to practice. You can practice this with your friends, with a family member or even thinking about work. When people practice gratitude, some research suggests that over time they become happier and their relationships become more content. Try it and let me know what you think.

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.