My Partner Is Unhappy, How Can I Make Her Happy?

A couple cutting a wedding cake

If you can recall, before Christmas I sent out a Reader’s question about his Partner making him unhappy and a number of kind people sent their insightful comments.  Here’s my answer to the same question.

I’m going to sum up the question as I see it first. Which is really three problems seemingly wrapped up in one.

  1. My Partner isn’t happy and I want her to be.
  2. I know what’s wrong and want to help her to be happy.
  3. How do I stay happy even when she isn’t?

Allow Your Partner To Be Happy Or Unhappy

How can you make your Partner happy?

You can’t. Your ability and responsibility to attain happiness ends at your physical extremities. While it is true that what you do, will affect and influence the happiness of others, that is not under your control. You only provide the stimulation that others can use to become more or less happy.

It is a difficult lesson that we all have to learn, but we each have the right and the ability to be happy. Equally we all have the right and ability to be miserable. It can be very difficult when others, especially those close to us, choose paths that make them miserable, but that most basic freedom of choice must be open to them.

The problem with marriage (by which I also mean long term commited relationships) is that it creates an image of two merging into one.

In good relationships this can be very positive for both individuals, because it expands their sense of self beyond their physical body and moves them closer to a sense of oneness with all. Along with that shift in perspective comes more generosity, kindness, tolerance, understanding and so more happiness.

Why Marriage Makes Some People Bitter?

However in more negative relationships, it can make us feel trapped. When we feel part of that expanded sense of self, but feel that our Partner is headed in a different direction to us, it feels as if we are being pulled away from where we want to be. And so we feel that we are losing the freedom to choose our destiny. And with that our free choice over whether we get to feel happy or sad.

When this happens, the relationship feels destructive to our health. We feel like we are being torn from our visions and there is nothing we can do to stop this. In feeling this, we begin to resent the other Partner for holding us back. In time this leads to bitterness and if continued to hatred as they seem to be the barrier holding us from a happy life.

You can never impose happiness, nor can you force your values and aspirations onto someone else. Hapiness is always a choice.

The solution to every problem lies around us. Yet our views and beliefs on what is possible and the boundaries of what is acceptable to us often stops us from seeing solutions. This is preferring to be ‘right’, choosing to fit situations into our mental constructs, rather than being open to seeing the world as it is, being happy.

When Your Partner Won’t Deal With The Issue Or Take Responsibility

Relying on angels indicates either a lack of belief in one’s self or a reluctance to take responsibility, which essentially is the same thing. While it may logically make no sense, if the Universe grants her that freedom, do you have the right to restrict that choice?

You have the choice to stay with her or not. You can stay and free yourself from the mental image of having your destinies entwined. Or you can go and separate them physically.

Pat made a very profound point in his comment, that most people get into relationships as a kind of Pollyanna project. They see someone that they are attracted to, with just one or two ‘flaws’ and say I can help them fix that and then they’ll be perfect for me.

However years down the line they find out that the person isn’t interested in changing and they have wasted years of energy and effort trying to ‘help them’ become the perfect person they wanted them to be.  And they then feel cheated.

People do change. We all change constantly. But we change along our own paths. When someone isn’t changing quickly and frequently, probably such as the Partner in question, it’s because they are stuck.

We get stuck when we are too afraid to make the next leap. Sometimes the next step seems so frightening that we are too afraid to even look. In which case we feel a blind terror and yet we do not know about what, why or what to do next.

People are complicated creatures and all different. I think the advice to bring it out onto the table and talk about it is excellent. In some cases, this will change the situation from one that hurts the relationship to being one that cements a closer, deeper bond.

Why Techniques Don’t Last And The Need For Emotional Nutrients

However, not everyone is in an emotionally stable and confident place to be able to talk about their fears. For some people, techniques such as practising gratitude or ways of shifting thought patterns can be helpful steps along the road. I’m more interested though in the general, universal principles and dynamics underlying the situaton so that we can all become more aware of what we do.

You see, I agree completely with Tony’s thoughts that life is a continual sequence of lessons. And many people who find a technique that works for them in certain situations can then feel that they have mastered life. When really they are like the Baby that has found comfort with a soothing dummy. In time they will grow and meet situations that the dummy no longer soothes.  I’d rather deal with the situation in a way that causes me to grow faith in my ability to be equal to the challenge rather than placing my faith in a technique.

I also agree completely that love and forgiveness are the keys. People grow when they get what they need. The problem with talking rationally to someone who is irrationally terrified, is that everything you say can feel like criticism and condemnation.  And when you are already shrinking from the world, more fear is the least effective thing.

Like the frightened baby, they don’t need logic, they need soothing. Feeling loved and trusted by someone stronger and wiser can, but won’t necessarily, give them the confidence and faith to confront what is keeping them stuck.

People are like plants. They do not grow by logic or criticism. They grow up when they get whatever emotional nutrients they need to grow. Nutritional deficiency causes deformity emotionally, as well as physically.

3 thoughts on “My Partner Is Unhappy, How Can I Make Her Happy?”

  1. Another ‘on the nail’ post Rob. Really interesting point about how having ‘techniques’ can be counter productive. I find so many people looking for techniques though, because they’re almost like a life raft – without some tangible, outlined way for them to deal with their problem, they feel like they can’t cope. Somehow there’s safety in a strategy. You’re right in that they can indeed provide comfort – as to how effective long-term that comfort is, is another thing altogether. What’s more, I imagine that not all people are practiced at sitting down and contemplating how to rise to the occasion when life throws them a curveball. Admitting that you don’t know what to do or where to start can be really scary. Which is why I think most people don’t do the ‘hard yards’ associated with genuine introspection and instead buy another self help book.
    Really interesting post to think about – thanks. 🙂

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