I Wonder... how do you keep your man happy?
Updated: Mar 11
Confession: I was a serial people pleaser and would have immediately wanted to read an article with this title for that reason. I used to think if I could keep others happy, it would stop them from leaving me.
Yet, can we ever truly make someone else happy?
Along the way to learning to give up this illusion of control over another’s level of happiness, I’ve discovered that following my own joy is my most attractive feature anyway.
The other thing I used to think makes an unhappy relationship, is whether you fight or not. I no longer think this is an accurate measure. We have some pretty funny arguments, like the ones over love hearts, kisses and wink emojis on Facebook. (I’m not kidding!) However, it has been navigating through our biggest disagreements that has brought us closer together.
I wondered how we got to this blissful state. So, whilst still a work in progress, I came up with 10 things I’ve learnt about creating a happy relationship with my man:
1. I LET HIM WEAR THE PANTS – A bit controversial perhaps. Yet, one of the most valuable things I learnt in my previous career as a couple’s dance instructor is that it only works when one person leads. A power struggle on the dance floor is not pretty! I don’t need to tell him how to do his job. He doesn’t need a mother or a critic either. From this position of leadership he is most willing to take me where I want to go anyway - and we get to enjoy going together. I am the boss of my life, I make my own big life decisions and take care of my own career and health, but in our relationship he is the man.
2. I MAKE ROMANCE IMPORTANT – Call me old fashioned, but a relationship without romance is pointless. I might as well settle for a room-mate or a buddy to spend my life with. Keeping the spark of attraction and desire for physical and emotional connection alive is vital. Like magnets I want the pull, not the repelling that happens if we are not playing with polarities, like the masculine thrill of the chase and the feminine joy in being the treasure he wants. No wonder romance is such a diehard genre in novels, songs and movies - it is the bomb! I’m an unapologetic and shameless “yes” to romance.
3. I KNOW HIS “LOVE LANGUAGE” – The 5 Love Languages helped me discover what my primary expression of love is and what makes me feel loved. Important to know, right? Whilst expensive presents and him doing all the cooking and housework would be fantastic, it’s not what fills my ‘love cup’. What love means for me in actions could be a foreign concept to my man. So, just as importantly, I know his love language too. Quiz link
4. I DON’T LOVE ‘UNCONDITIONALLY’ – When I chucked this fallacy out the window and created personal boundaries it was life changing. I am clear about what I must have in a relationship and how I will allow myself to be treated. I am not bad or selfish for saying "no" to what doesn't make me happy. If I don’t see myself as important, why would anyone else? When I do, as a bonus I have more love to give anyway.
5. I WENT ON A “NO BLAME” DIET – Judging and assigning fault is toxic. I don’t underestimate the power of giving him the benefit of the doubt when I feel upset, because I wouldn’t be with someone who is intentionally out to hurt me. I communicate what’s going on for me if I need to. Otherwise I don’t dump it on him. It’s my stuff. It is not up to him to fix me. Eliminating the blame-game is also about not taking on any self-blame for whatever is going on for him. He is a big boy and can sort out his own stuff.
6. I HAVE A MAGIC WAND – Appreciation and a simple “thank you” is truly magic. Honest acknowledgement works wonders. Nobody likes being taken for granted and everyone likes knowing they are special. I remind him how good I feel being with him often and he gets a kick out of knowing the difference he makes for me. What is that saying, happy wife, happy life?
7. I FULFILL MY OWN DREAMS – We don’t need interests in common for compatibility. He doesn’t have to be a Writer and a book lover like me. but I know he supports my passion and shares in my joys. Conversely, this gives him freedom to pursue his passion for golf without any complaint from me. In fact, it is what I admire about him, even though I’ve never been a sports fan. We are both ambitious and talented in our unique ways. I couldn’t imagine being with someone who wasn’t pursuing their dreams.
8. I DON’T TREAT HIM LIKE MY GIRLFRIEND – My man is not in my life to be my confidant, mentor, teacher, parent, counsellor etc. He doesn’t relate to lots of conversation and the D&M’s about feelings that I like to engage in. I leave it for coffee catch ups with my bestie. If he needs time in his mancave I will give him the space. Talking deeply about stuff is not the ‘go-to’ for him. He has his own way. Nevertheless, the high regard and acceptance we have for each other makes us best friends like no other.
9. I BELIEVE IN HIM – I know how well he can take care of himself, what he has accomplished to get where he is and the difficult challenges he has overcome. In many ways he is my hero. I listen to him and any problems we discuss is from this space of believing in his ultimate capacity and ability. I also wouldn’t accept anything less than the same courtesy.
10. I TRUST I AM LOVED – I left this one until the last, not because it is least important but it is MOST important. Having grown up with abandonment terrors from being a foster child, I have sensitive triggers easily activated at the slightest whiff of this happening again. All of my insecurities have stemmed from this. Hence, the ultimate self-care practice for me is to TRUST in my intrinsic capacity to be, feel and attract love. There is no greater inner gift I can cultivate than the power to trust in myself as the source of all I want. My secret weapon is my growing confidence in knowing I am loved and worthy of love (and sssh, just between you and me, I think it is his biggest turn on).
What a list!
I didn’t always have these skills. It was because I don’t like to fail at anything important to me that I went on a learning rampage. Here are some helpful resources I give credit to:
Love and Relationship Coach, Sami Wunder
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, John Gottman PHD
The Ten Second Miracle: Creating Relationship Breakthroughs, Gay Hendricks PHD
Inner Bonding, Dr Margaret Paul
The Five Love Languages, Dr Gary Chapman
Why Does This Keep Happening to Me? The 7 crisis We All Experience and How to Overcome Them, Alan Downs PHD
How do you keeep your relationship a happy one? Leave a comment and let me know.
Keep in touch!