5 Skills You Need To Be Happy In A Relationship (Without Going To Therapy)

Photo: Andrei Bortnikau / Shutterstock
happy couple hugging

Humans are wired to seek out relationships. Unfortunately, not everyone realizes that relationships aren't always inherently happy ones, and in order to learn how to be happy in a relationship couples have to be willing to put in work.

One promising way to maximize happiness is to strive, together, toward the valued goal of improving the most intimate relationship in your life. Learning how to make one another happy can be seen as a valued goal for anyone in relationships.

While therapy may be helpful for many couples, it's not always necessary for a happy, healthy relationship.

To be happy in a relationship, you must practice these five skills.

Improvement in these skills is noticeable and measurable; progress can generate increased satisfaction quickly. Framing and sharing these skills to improve the quality of your relationship can enhance bonding. 

RELATED: 11 Ways To Be Happier & More In Love (Without Trying To Change Your Partner)

1. Listen actively.

Deep inside we all crave the undivided attention of someone who puts us first. True listening is a gift that nourishes and heals the other person. It's not easy and it requires ignoring all the other distractions, which include our own feelings, thoughts, and judgments.

Mirroring the other person's posture, facial expression, and vocal tone and rhythms will show your partner you are truly listening.

2. Ask for what you want.

This requires knowing what you want, which is not as obvious as it may seem. It also requires breaking a lot of bad habits, like assuming you should get what you want automatically, complaining about not getting it automatically, or using a variety of manipulative strategies to get what you want without having to ask.

The art of asking for what you want, in a way that makes it easy for the other person to give, is my definition of assertiveness.

RELATED: Why Being In A 'Perfect' Relationship Will Never Make You Happy Or Satisfied With Life

3. Try new things together. 

Whether it is in the bedroom or on the ski slopes, this is a practice that can enrich any relationship. It will probably begin with one of you asking and the other listening. But after you try this "new thing" together, it is important for both to share their reactions so the dance of mutual learning can be a skill you build together.

4. Express gratitude towards each other.

Expressing and accepting gratitude is natural for improving relationships, and not just your most intimate relationship.

Making "thank you" sincere is an art involving creativity and empathy. Otherwise, it can become a relatively meaningless routine; it can even be perceived as sarcastic. Because expressing gratitude, even silently, is uplifting. But finding ways to express it outwardly is even more important for your relationship.

5. Show a lot of affection.

If done with creativity, empathy, learning, affection will make the other person feel good, loved, and cared for.

This does involve effort because, when you are in a relationship, you should care enough to do it well. Of course, seek feedback to find out how caring behavior worked for the other person.

These can be practiced throughout the lifetime of a relationship. I, personally, guarantee that you will both be happier. 

RELATED: Here's Why You Won't Always Be Happy In A Relationship

Brock Hansen, LCSW, author of Shame and Anger: The Criticism Connection, is a clinical social worker and personal effectiveness coach with over thirty years of experience in counseling individuals with a variety of problems related to shame and anger.