The 3 Secrets to a Joyful Relationship that No One Talks About
After my husband Jonathan Chew and I tied the knot we mutually agreed that a happy marriage was the top priority in our lives. We dove into relationship books, went on trips, and sought out experiences that we hoped would shape our Happily Ever After in the best way possible.
While on our Honeymoon our favorite thing to do when strangers cried out to us a congratulations was to stop them and ask them for their best advice on a successful marriage.
We got a lot of your typical relationship advice…
A lot of people told us one word: “communication!”
We didn’t really understand what this meant at first — do people just get married and stop talking to each other? What is this mystery of communication? Why is it seemingly such a rocky aspect of relationships?
Now I think we realize the brilliance of the word…
Everyone communicates things differently and not just with words…we communicate our love, our joy, and desires differently from one another too…
A key to communication is in the gaps of it. Silences will come and we can choose to let them linger or fill them with clarifications and corrections. So when people advise “communication” I think they mean a few things…
Always give your partner the benefit of the doubt when stuck between two thoughts. Never assume anything — always ask and double and triple check things. Being married doesn’t automatically give you a license as a mind reader so define what you need, express yourself, and always clarify. Because when you’re both on the same page you can both enjoy the story you are writing for yourselves together.
Another one of my favorite pieces of advice came from another word…
“Compromise…” a man had told us with a smile, “and I mean real compromise…If one of you wants blue and the other wants red and you settle on purple then actually no one’s happy.”
Then of course we always got the standard advice to “never go to bed angry” as well. Now a married woman, I can attest to the truth of all three of these pieces of relationship advice…
But I’ve also discovered three other interesting and unique aspects of joy that can provide a foundation for a successful and joy-filled relationship…and they go like this…
The No Reason Rule
It’s weird to say that you’ll actually find more joy and meaning when you decide to do something for no reason at all…but it’s true! A kind gesture, without any motive behind it, can bring an insane amount of joy and peace to life.
Take the pressure off your partner and just do things for the sake of doing them. Don’t keep score — who has done what and who owes who a favor. Do a great thing just…because. Give 100% and expect only 50% in return. Give. Love. Be spontaneous. And for no reason or return. Love is in the little things and they add up!
Memory Save Points
Relationships are roller coasters and inevitably you will have to endure your highest of highs and lowest of lows together.
When you are next experiencing one of those elated moments of joy, where the world seems to float and you never want the day to end, I recommend doing one thing:
Create Save Points for yourself.
A save point in a video game allows you to go back to a portion of your journey without anything important getting deleted.
Do this for your life too…
For example, when experiencing a wonderful moment with your partner try to mark the moment with all your senses.
What does it smell like?
What does it sound like?
And so on…
You can even touch the back of your hand or your arm in a certain way so that when you do this gesture to yourself again in the future — you will be reminded so strongly of the moment you once beautifully experienced.
I happened to do this on a trip my husband and I took. Now every time I draw a circle on the back of my hand I am brought back to the wonderful dinner we had, the taste of the food, the sound of the music playing, and so on…
Create these Save Points for yourself and go back to them often — especially with your partner. Remember and reminisce. It will bring that joyfulness right back as if you were there in that perfect moment again.
Live in the Moment — and force yourself to do so
I think it’s easy to sometimes forget to live in the Now when you’ve been in a relationship for a long time. After all, you are building your futures together, looking ahead, working toward goals, holding grudges about the past, and not to mention attending to immediate things like bills and work/family obligations. Life goes on and on and on and you’re just so used to living with each other that you actually forget to really live with each other. It’s easy to miss the moment when you are living for the future or regretting the past or whatever it is we humans so often do.
Matthew Kelly talks about a concept called “carefree timelessness” — that feeling we often feel when first falling in love — and the importance of experiencing it on a daily basis. Kelly says,
“The most important things are hardly ever urgent, that is why we have to place them at the center of our lives. We have to put them on our schedules, because if we don’t we simply won’t get around to them.”
Living for the Now is not an “urgent” matter, per say, so it’s easy to justify replacing it with things that seemingly have a higher priority. Yet if we allow the busyness of life to cloud the carefree timelessness out of us, we lose those precious moments to fall in love with our partner again.
I would argue that living in the Now is actually just as important to our well-being as is eating and sleeping…and it’s just as important in a relationship as saying “I Love You.” Because if you’re not experiencing life together — why are you even together at all?
Sometimes environment can affect this. When we’re in a messy house or see the unfinished projects you have laying about it’s easy to not be as focused on what your partner is saying and experiencing with you in that moment.
So try going out and leaving cellphones turned off. Try blocking out time to just spend 100% with each other. Make it a priority and a habit.
My husband and I are still discovering and will continue to unlock and document what tips we find on our joy journey through life. We love to write articles, create videos, and give tips and tricks all centering around joy.
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