If You Want To Be Happy In Your Relationship…Be Grateful!

Is happiness in our relationships tied to gratitude? My husband Ladi thinks so as he writes in the post below…

So I listened to a TED Talk by Bro. David Steindl-Rast recently about the secret to happiness. I have to say that this is the best talk I’ve heard all year. Even though I’m a Christian and he’s a monk and interfaith scholar, he has taught me one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in life.

See, I believe we need to be able to affirm the truth, regardless of where it comes from. And something about that simple statement just resonates with me, as the gospel truth.

“Want to be happy? Be grateful!”

I mean, who doesn’t want to be happy? Life is all about the pursuit of happiness right?

Isn’t this one of the reasons we get into relationships or marriage?

So for us married folks and those in committed relationships and those looking for these things, there it is.

The answer.

If you want to be happy in your marriage or relationship, be grateful.

But some would argue that if your spouse or partner makes you happy then you’d be grateful, right?

Not according to this wise man and I agree with him. Brother Steindl-Rast makes the point that if asked, most people would say that they’re grateful when happy. But think again.

Is it REALLY the happy people who are grateful?

He argues that we all know quite a number of people who have everything it takes to be happy, but they are not happy.

They want something else. They want more of the same. And we all know many people who experience misfortune, but remain so deeply happy that it radiates.

Why?

Because they are grateful.

It’s not happiness that makes us grateful. It’s gratefulness that makes us happy. If we bring this wisdom, into the context of marriage, it seems to work like a charm. It’s not being happy with our spouse that makes us grateful. It’s being grateful for our spouse that makes us happy.

Think about it.

There’s a scripture in the bible, in the book of proverbs that talks about a wife being a good thing and causes favor to come from God, upon the man. We are usually grateful, when we receive favors right? At least I know I am. When you’re given a gift, something you didn’t earn, didn’t work for, couldn’t control.

Are our spouses and our partners a gift?

Yes!

I’m aware that some might argue that they “worked” to “earn” the love of that special someone, and while there is some truth to that, tell that to someone who’s single and has been looking for love forever and has done everything possible to find happiness in a relationship, but just can’t. So it is certainly a gift from God, to have someone who loves you and cares for you and is willing to spend the rest of his or her life with you.

And there’s something that happens, when you realize that person is a real and valuable gift that you didn’t earn, you didn’t buy and you really couldn’t have worked for. The person just happened to show up in your life, at the right place and time, as a good thing, as a favor.

That something that happens is called gratitude. Gratefulness spontaneously arrives in our hearts and happiness spontaneously arrives in our hearts. That’s how gratefulness happens. And because of the uncertainties of life, because we don’t know when it’s all going to be over, this gratitude for our spouses is not something we should experience once in a while.

It should be our way of life.

We need to become aware, that every moment with our spouses and partners is a gift. It’s a given moment. We have no way of assuring we will have such another moment with them. And each of those moments is pregnant with possibilities. And what we are really grateful for is the opportunity, because if our spouses were somewhere else and we didn’t have a chance to be with them, then we can’t be grateful for it. Many moments with our spouses and partners are given to us. We can choose to avail ourselves, or we can miss it.

This is the key to our happiness. It’s in our own hands.

Brother Steindl-Rast is also clear about the fact that this doesn’t mean we can be grateful for everything. We can’t be grateful for violence, unfaithfulness or bereavement.

But we can be grateful IN EVERY given moment.

We Christians like to call this giving thanks in all circumstances. Even when we are confronted with the difficulties in relationships, we can rise to the occasion and respond to the opportunity that is given to us. We can challenge ourselves to learn something. People with good relationships are simply taking advantage of these opportunities.

And for those who are in not so good relationships, well there’s the next opportunity, even with the same person that is causing you pain, to get it right.

There’s always a next opportunity.

So how do we live gratefully with our spouses?

We need to remember.

We need to live in the moment.

We need to believe in the possibilities of a positive future. For those who have read the bible, it seems like the whole book of Deuteronomy was dedicated to helping the children of Israel remember. It seems God wants us to see God based on what we remember about God, not our current situation. It might not be a bad idea to look at our spouses and partners in the same way.

Always remember how you met them, how they made you feel in the early days and why you fell in love with them.

Enjoy that feeling. Now.

Not later. Now.

Allow that feeling to settle back in your heart. When we do this, it tends to cause us to want to do something for our partners.

Do it.

Respond to that opportunity to do something that will make your partner happy. Meet a need he or she wants.

And lastly, always believe in your heart that you are going to make it. Believe in your heart, regardless of how things might look today, the story is going to end well.

May we remember the past. May we live in the present. May we gravitate towards a positive future.

May we be grateful for our spouses and partners. And may we be happy.

Ladi Okuneye

(A happy husband)