Boredom, arguments, and dissatisfaction sooner or later find their way into many relationships. Especially when couples unconsciously make mistakes. Couples therapist Sigrid Sonnenholzer explains what makes a happy partnership – and how it is easy to keep.
All couples argue many are bored and some already have nothing to say to each other. In order to overcome this point or, better yet, not to get to it in the first place, there are a few simple rules that any couple can follow. We asked couples therapist Sigrid Sonnenholzer about her tips for a happy relationship. This is their 5-point plan:
1. Create a basis based on what you have in common
“Anyone who freshly together has no common past, only a common future,” explains Sigrid Sonnenholzer in an interview. Do you remember the first few months together? During this time, how often have you talked about your interests and values, imagined a future together, and planned it down to the smallest detail? You shouldn’t stop there.
Shared values form the foundation for a happy future together. Make it clear to yourself what is important to you in life, regularly remind yourself of common values, worldviews, and life plans. “Over the years, many couples lose sight of these common features that were discussed a lot at the beginning. Instead, they focus on the differences, i.e. the things that they don’t like about each other. That leads to stress and arguments, ”explains the relationship expert.
2. Celebrate your differences – and negotiate them
According to the couple’s therapist, the differences are even more important than the similarities. What loves teasing himself. Sometimes at least. And maybe that’s a good thing – as long as you come to a mutual solution in the end. Because only a couple who manages to negotiate disagreements together and in an acceptable manner for both parties can really be happy in the long term. “No pair per se fits together,” explains Sigrid Sonnenholzer. All people have different views on different things. The question here is: “How do you deal with it?”
It is very important to always treat your partner with respect. This also means never letting the emotional bond break. For example, if you tend to keep your partner silent in an argument, you should definitely question and reconsider this behavior: “Ignoring your partner is just as bad as slapping them,” says Sigrid Sonnenholzer. For those who find it very difficult to break this pattern, she has two tips:
Question why you are doing this. For example, what kind of role models did you have in childhood who might have acted in the same way? You should definitely break through the conflict patterns you have learned in this way. They are poison in your relationship.
Transfer your professional skills into private life. After all, you wouldn’t keep your boss silent for days after he did something you disagree with.
The therapist recommends always tackling different views or even problems together and setting a common solution as a goal – you should not end the conversation beforehand. “It is important not to stick to the past, but to always have an up-to-date solution in mind that is equally acceptable for both partners”. This often includes compromises.
3. Tolerance, acceptance, respect for incompatibilities: When a compromise is not possible
In many relationships, however, there are also points where a partner simply cannot compromise. This applies, for example, to partners who bring children with them from previous relationships – and with them perhaps also (for the new partner) uncomfortable ex-wives or men who inevitably remain part of the new life.
“In such a case, the dissatisfied partner must be aware of how much he loves his wife or his husband and whether he is willing to make sacrifices for it.” In the case of the blended family, sacrifice would mean accepting children or ex-partners and treating them with respect in any case – even if they might not do it themselves. “You shouldn’t get angry with the person every day. You are making life unnecessarily difficult for yourself and your partner ”. Instead, according to the couple therapist, it helps to accept the situation as it is and make the best of it.
4. Make a gratitude list
If you want to have a happy relationship, you first have to be happy yourself. Sigrid Sonnenholzer, therefore, recommends that all partners draw up a “gratitude list”.
On this list, which everyone makes for themselves, put everything that you are grateful for in life – both outside and within the partnership. And you should be aware of that every day. The expert, therefore, recommends hanging up the list in a place that you can easily see – for example on the refrigerator.
5. Being happy and content is a conscious choice
While the list can already add a first part to a happy and contented life, there is another point that you should keep in mind, according to Sonnenholzer – especially if you are currently not satisfied.
Because regardless of whether you are in a relationship or not: “Being happy is a conscious choice,” she explains. “Everyone has to take good care of themselves, this is the only way he or she can be happy in a partnership.”
Specifically, this means: if you are dissatisfied with something, change it. If there is anything you want in order to be happier, work on it. And if there’s something you and your partner can change together, do that too.