How to Be Happy in a Relationship

Maintain Collective Goals

We're always told that it's important for us to have goals and work toward reaching them. When you're in a relationship, you don't just have your own personal goals. You also have collective goals -- things that both of you are working toward. When you have support both for your personal goals and collective goals with your partner, you'll be happier in your relationship.

The best way to start is to discuss your goals with your partner. Make a list of your personal goals, both short-term and long-term, as well as a list of things that both of you would like to accomplish. These might be external goals, such as saving a specific amount of money to buy a house, or be related directly to your relationship, such as setting up a weekly date night. Discuss the steps that you're both going to take in order to make it happen, and then revisit those goals on a regular basis to check on your progress and adjust them if necessary.

It's also important to let your partner know about any major decisions or changes that you'd like to make that will impact your personal or collective goals. Changes like going back to school or making a career move would certainly impact your partner's life in many different ways. It might also impact your collective goals. How will you pay for school? Will your salary be higher or lower?

Keep in mind, too, that you and your partner have different strengths. If he's a planner and the goal is to take a long vacation in the summer, it might be better to let him do the research. If she's better with finances and your goal is to save money, then she should probably be the one setting the budget and balancing the checkbook. As long as you communicate your thoughts and feelings, you can keep conflicts to a minimum.

Want more on learning to be happy with yourself? Interested in tips from happy people on achieving that joy? Try the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


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  • Carroll, Linda. "Dull days wreck a marriage faster than fighting." MSNBC. May 21, 2009.
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  • Harrar, Sari and Rita DeMaria. "Tips for Open, Honest Talking." Reader's Digest. 2009.
  • Hicks, Jesse. "Probing Question: What predicts a happy marriage?" Penn State LIVE. February 17, 2009.
  • Kaplan, Mark and James E. Maddux. "Goals and Marital Satisfaction: Perceived Support for Personal Goals and Collective Efficacy for Collective Goals." Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. Vol. 21. Issue 2. June 2002.
  • Mitchell, Lawrence. "5 Ways to Communicate with Women." AskMen. January 2008.
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