We often find ourselves googling little questions throughout our days about things we don’t understand or know how to do. The answers are usually straightforward and get the job done so that we can move on to the next task on our lists. One such question that has about 87,40,00,000 results is, ‘How to keep your partner happy?’ and the answer is anything but straightforward.
I would like to stress that the first thing to do, is to work towards making yourself happy. We have heard the saying that ‘Hurt people, hurt people’, and so it is of the utmost importance for you to be satisfied and content in yourself before you start bending over backward to make someone else happy.
Relationships are a bit of a paradox because they are simultaneously the most simple and complicated things in the world. They are simple because all they need is love, and they are complex because just love is never enough. I realize that we have been drip-fed the ‘one true love’ narrative by popular culture for years and years. Over generations, we have been taught to differentiate true love and fake love, as if fake love even exists. It is an oxymoron, you know; love is not and can never be faked. Just because you’re with the love of your life now does not make all your other relationships fake. It may not last forever, but it is almost always true if it’s love. Once you understand that, you’ll stop putting undue pressure on your relationship to be perfect.
What should you do when you’re in love and want to make it known to your partner? The key here is communication. Get to know your partner and what makes them who they are. Not everyone wants a grand gesture, sometimes lending an ear is enough; that is not to say that grand gestures are useless. You just need to know what exactly your partner likes. Maybe they want you to buy them a gift, or perhaps they want you to cook them a meal, sometimes they may just want you to sit with them and watch the sunrise in silence; all three are languages of love, and all three can make people happy. So, start with communication.
There are various love languages, and they aren’t always the same for people, but the common factor in all of them is respect and consideration. This brings me to my next point – Always respect your partner. If reading this sentence ruffles your feathers, then introspection may be in order. Respect is not about status or domination; respect is so much more tender than that. When I say respect, I don’t mean the performative kind; continue to be who you are around your partner while simultaneously remembering that they are a whole universe unto themselves just as you are. Respect their time and energy. If you say you’re going to do something and go somewhere, keep your word. I have to add here that you must hold yourself to the same standard and expect respect from a partner in a similar fashion.
Most people, if not all, want to be loved and appreciated. However, we often blur the lines between being loved and being raised. Do not let your partner unknowingly take on a parental role for you. As outlandish as this sounds, it is a pretty common reason for the short life of certain relationships. There should be a healthy balance of responsibility between partners so that everyone can retain their individuality. The point where these lines are blurred is the point where your partner will start to feel unhappy. Another facet of this is giving your partner space. I understand that some people may want to be with their partners all the time, which is not a bad thing, but you have to draw a line somewhere. Don’t stifle your partner, let them have space, and don’t take their need for space personally. Everyone needs to be alone and in meditation sometimes. This can look different for different people; maybe your partner likes to work out early in the morning, maybe they like to sit in silence and read, maybe they want to watch a show alone. None of these mean that they dislike you; it just means that they need to be on their own and that this is an opportunity for you to go and do the things that you like.
Couples are teams and thus require a healthy amount of team spirit. Make plans together with your partner. This could be anything from planning vacations to planning meals or chores. Make plans together in a way where both of you can make the most of them. I will not ask you to be selfless to make your partner happy. Your priority should always be you, but that does not mean that you should be selfish. Strike a balance, find a middle ground if you cannot come to a clear decision but do not let your ego or selfishness get in the way of solving problems. In line with the idea of discussion and dissent, I have one tip that is a little less profound than the rest. Do not simmer in your anger too long. If you argue with your partner, learn to know when to walk away. You don’t have to talk about everything as soon as it happens. Give yourself and your partner time, and never say things out of anger. My mother always says that your words are like arrows, and once they’re out of your mouth, you cannot take them back. You may move past them for the time being, but I assure you that any pain caused by your words will remain for a much longer time.
I know that you can do many little things for your partner that are not as long-term as these. However, most of us know that; flowers, gifts, and grand gestures are common knowledge, and I do not doubt that they make romantic partners momentarily happy. This momentary happiness, however potent, is not long-lasting, and thus it is important to have a healthy mix of good behavior and good gestures in a relationship. Suppose I were to oversimplify the key to a happy partner and resultant happy relationship. In that case, I’d say take an interest in each other’s interests while avoiding turning everything into a two-person activity, and you’ll be just fine.