Have a Happy Relationship in 7 Steps

Valentine Couple. Portrait of Smiling Beauty Girl and her Handso
Valentine Couple. Portrait of Smiling Beauty Girl and her Handsome Boyfriend making shape of Heart by their Hands. Happy Joyful Family. Love Concept. Heart Sign. Laughing Happy Lovers. Valentines Day

A long-time friend recently told me “you’re the only person I know that’s happily married.” While I took the compliment, I thought it awfully sad for her friends. I asked “what about other relationships?” She said it was the same all over, married, living together, seriously dating, everyone she knew, including herself, was unhappy in their relationship.

It got me to thinking: What makes my relationship a happy one? Is it simply a matter of perception, that she assumes I’m happy and assumes others are not? She’s not delusional and seems to have a pretty good handle on how others truly are, so that seemed unlikely. I don’t present a false front to her, so that seemed an unlikely reason. Is my relationship happy? Yes, I feel happy in it. Her statements must be true, to the best of her opinion. So why am I happy and so many people, at least by this sample, seem to be less so?

I do the following things, that may be a benefit to you in your relationship:

  1. Say thank you. The little things add up. If you spouse did something around the house, notice and say thank you for having done that thing, even if it’s so mundane as preparing a meal or bringing in the trash cans. After all, without them doing it, it’s all on you. Once in awhile, say thank you for the bigger things “thank you for going to work every day and making sure we have enough money to pay our bills,” or “thank you for always being available to listen when I need to vent about the kids.”
  2. Let it go. We have a rule that may or may not work for you: whatever is bothering you, you have to say it right away. This involves no stewing, no ruminating, no grudges. We never have an argument (we rarely argue anyhow) that involves “and remember last month when…” because we dealt with that thing last month. Sometimes these things are stupid, like “you said you’d move my laundry to the dryer and it’s still in the washer.” Stupid, right? I know. But isn’t that the kind of thing that, if you ruminate on it, will lead you to say things about a person’s character like “he never follows through.” Is that true? No, but there seemed to be a lack of follow through in that instance. So deal with the issue, not the characteristic. You are with someone because you believe their traits are good, overall.
  3. Keep it to yourself. Don’t talk smack to your friends or family or coworkers. They will hear you in a bad mood and make generalizations, especially if mostly what they hear is your bad-mood stuff. They’ll then give you advice like “you don’t need someone like that,” which may be far from true, but when several people say the same things, you may doubt yourself. Be slow to talk negatively about others (your spouse, your kids, your friends, your family) to anyone. Be quick to talk positively, though. This is not akin to wearing blinders and pretending things are as they aren’t, but evaluating on your own scale, not an outsider’s. Journaling is a better outlet.
  4. Compromise. You shouldn’t get your way all the time. Weigh the importance of the issue with the importance of your continued relationship. The old saying is “You can either be right or happy.”
  5. Communicate. Oh, so cliche! I know, I know. It’s a skill; it’s an art. Talk, face to face, at least a few minutes every day. Know what an expression means, a gesture, a lack of talking about something. My best friend said of me, “I can tell by the tone of your silence when something’s bothering you.” That’s an art developed over decades.
  6. Do the little things. I’m always thinking of people I love. When I’m at a store or watching TV or reading, I may see a passage or article or item that reminds me of them. I snap a photo, send an email or a text, pick up an inexpensive thing, right then. I don’t wait, don’t hold things for special occasions. I say “I saw this and thought of you.” Most of my circle has said I’m incredibly considerate because of that. How much effort does that take? Almost none. Almost no money – if I can’t afford a thing, I photograph it and send a text “doesn’t this remind you of that time we were talking about…” My one friend has a pair of scissors I got her in the shape of a woodpecker that makes her laugh every time she’s in her kitchen because we were once at a party and a man told us a terrible joke involving a woodpecker with no punchline. We still laugh about it. It takes no money and almost no effort to connect with others. I made a bad-day-bag of gift wrapped item of less than $10 each that my husband can pull from when he’s had a bad day at work, after a rather long run of such bad days. You know when he sees these little things, he thinks of me and that I was thinking of him.
  7. Take nothing for granted. I believe that divorce is possible for me, that people change, that this marriage may not last forever. I spend some time each day devoting time and energy to my marriage and my spouse. While that amount of time and energy varies, I don’t think I ever miss a day.

If you find this useful in some way, please share the information.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Weston, Florida. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter Facebook. Sign up for the e-newsletter HERE.

Be a Quitter: Stop Smoking with Hypnosis

Smashing The Habit

Quit smoking in an effective, lasting manner that takes into account your history, health, and needs. Regular cost is $750, but I’m offering this as a package for $600 if you pre-pay. That’s 5 hours over the course of 4 sessions.

Share this important information with your friends and coworkers! Be quitters together and enjoy better health and a longer life. Continue reading “Be a Quitter: Stop Smoking with Hypnosis”

Pre-Contemplation in Addiction

Direction choices and decisions for thoughtful businessman with

A couple of weeks ago I introduced you to the concept of Self Concept Model of Substance Abuse Treatment. In the article, I assert that you an use this model as early as the pre-contemplation stage of change. I want to speak in more depth more on that topic here.

The stages of change begins with pre-contemplation. During pre-contemplation, the person who would benefit from change is either actively avoidant of change, or is not sure if they want/need to make a change. Continue reading “Pre-Contemplation in Addiction”

Tying Balloons to a House

bigstock-Dice-30659876When one of your jobs is board-game design, you spend a lot of time thinking about Win Conditions. Win conditions are those things you need to do to win the game, such as collect a number of victory points. In life, we erroneously focus more on the Goal. Continue reading “Tying Balloons to a House”

Self Concept Model of Substance Abuse Treatment

Man looks depressed with empty beer bottles
Daryl Bem’s view of how one sees the self, Self-Perception Theory, is defined as: we are what we repeatedly do. That is, you only know how to define yourself by the things you have observed yourself doing. If you do something frequently, you must enjoy that thing, or you would be doing another thing.

Leon Festinger’s view of how one sees the self, Continue reading “Self Concept Model of Substance Abuse Treatment”

Talk About Mental Health

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by Beatrice the Biologist

For hundreds of years, mental health has long been talked about in hushed tones.

Is it any wonder, when we started out treating it as possession by evil spirits? Ancient skulls have been found with holes knocked in them to let out the demons. If this was the method of treatment, I’d keep any abnormal thoughts to myself, too, to avoid having to “get better” that way. Continue reading “Talk About Mental Health”

Your Power Song

picjumbo.com_HNCK8495Symbols are powerful instruments used by the brain to store larger clusters of data. Hypnotherapists frequently use symbols to embed commands and anchor to positive emotions. Symbols can be visual or auditory, or even based in touch.

Music is an auditory form of a symbol. Music can evoke Continue reading “Your Power Song”

Mastermind Groups

picjumbo.com_HNCK2146If you do not already have one, I highly recommend starting a Mastermind Group for you and your colleagues.

What is it? A group of people with similar careers meet on a scheduled basis to discuss their progress, growth, share resources, and assist one another.

What’s the benefit? Everyone is better at Continue reading “Mastermind Groups”

No OCD Diagnosis During a Pandemic

Conversation With A  Psychologist

This may become an unpopular opinion, but it is my informed clinical opinion: We mental health professionals should not be diagnosing germ-based OCD now, and for the next year or so.

When making a diagnosis, mental health professionals need to consider the lasting impact of that diagnosis on the client’s medical record, current and future treatment, and their ability to handle knowing their diagnosis. Telling a client that they have OCD as related to germs, illness, or fears thereof during a pandemic dismisses their legitimate fears.

There is an overabundance of news to take in by traditional and social media, many of whose statements are at odds with one another. It can be difficult to know how to feel informed and confusion can reign when finding trusted sources. 

This is an unprecedented time. There is no rule for diagnosing during a pandemic because, thankfully, we have not had one in recent memory that lasted so long or had such far-reaching and significant effects. 

Exceptions: If the problem was in existence before the pandemic by several months, and client is certain that it was in place, but it is exacerbated by the pandemic, I might diagnose OCD. If the problem is not related to germs or illness, I would diagnose OCD.

Once the pandemic is over, as things become “the new normal”, continue to monitor the client. Ask how they are easing back into routine. Anxiety, trauma, depression, or obsessive thoughts may cause them to be slower to reintegrate. Ask if the compulsions are similar or have abated at all. OCD is a big diagnosis and I would not want a client saddled with something so heavy if it were situationally appropriate, even if it was out of proportion. 

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Weston, Florida. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on TwitterFacebook, and Google+. Sign up for the e-newsletter HERE.

Always Communicate

Yellow tulips on a dark background
Bouquet of yellow tulips on a dark background

It’s cliche because it’s true; communication is key in any relationship. My relationship is no exception. Here’s an excerpt from my real life:

Some friends were coming into town on Friday night for our mutual friend’s birthday party the next day. I suggested to my husband that they might want to get together for a late dinner. I couldn’t attend because I was getting over being sick and needed the extra rest. He said that sounded good. I told him “It’ll take an effort on your part,” meaning he needed to call them to arrange plans.

Husband said “I feel guilty tripped, now. Like I have to call them and go out.”

I said “That’s not how I meant to come across. I wanted to make you aware of an opportunity, in case you choose to make plans. Help me; how would you have liked to have heard that so it didn’t sound like guilt or obligation?”

Husband replied “Maybe if you’d have explained it as an option, or not used the phrase ‘an effort’, because you’ve said that I need to ‘make an effort’ before when I wasn’t seeing our friends.”

I responded “That makes sense to me. Sorry that I made you feel guilty. They’re your friends, too. I’m stuck home, but call them if you want, or you’ll see them tomorrow.”

He did call and they went out. And we all hung out the next day. But there was no animosity, no hurt feelings, no lingering guilt or anger because we discussed it in the moment like rational adults.

What is an example of a time you communicated your feelings and were heard in a positive way? Or is this a skill you’re just learning?

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Weston, Florida. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter, and Facebook. Sign up for the e-newsletter HERE.