Here’s my dirty little secret: I write more about breaking up than fixing unhealthy relationships. So, this week’s series is on how to be happy even if you’re in a relationship that isn’t healthy. One of the most important things I’ve learned from my readers is that not all relationships – not even the unhealthiest, most abusive ones – can simply be abandoned.
“Love is something that we nurture and grow,” says Brene Brown in The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. “Love is a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.” She adds that we have love only when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known. What does this mean for us who want to learn how to be happy even in unhealthy relationships? We’ll find out…
Here on Blossom, I write a four-article series on one topic a week. This week’s theme is “how to be happy” and “healthy relationships” – and it includes specific tips on how to be happy even in unhealthy relationships, lessons learned in unhealthy relationships, how to fix unhealthy relationships, and how to gain confidence and create healthy relationships. All the links to this week’s posts are at the end of this article.
How to Be Happy in Unhealthy Relationships
Imagine is the focus of today’s post. Before you can learn how to be happy even if you’re in a loveless marriage or if you suspect your husband is cheating on you, you need to start setting your intention.
What advice have you already received about how to be happy, or unhealthy relationships? Before you read my tips, take a moment to think about what you already know. You know more than you think – and I suspect you’re much smarter than you give yourself credit for!
Imagine yourself happy in your relationship
Do you have a vision or goals for what you want to create in your relationship? If not, then you can’t make it happen. It’s like trying to drive to Mayne Island in British Columbia without a map; you’ll waste a lot of time going down the wrong roads and buying tickets for the wrong ferries because you didn’t take time to prepare.
Maybe you’re like me and you feel compelled to check in with God when you’re considering your future. Prayer is a powerful way to learn how to be happy! It helps you see what you really want in your life, how to create what you want, and even how to fix unhealthy relationships. Prayer also helps you learn whether it’s even possible for you to learn how to be happy in your current relationships. If they’re unhealthy, maybe there is no fixing the problems…but you won’t find out until you take time to imagine the possibilities and get clear how you will be happy in even the unhealthiest of relationships.
If you’re not into setting intentions or prayer, you might find How to Make a Vision Board for Your Relationship helpful. It’s the same idea, with a different source of energy. Connecting with God is more powerful than clipping photos of magazines, but the act of creating a vision board might make you happy. For a little while.
Write down what makes you happy
You can’t create happiness in your life unless you know what it means to you to be happy!
This is a crucial tip for happiness – especially for women in unhealthy relationships – because it takes your general “I want to be happy” notion and makes it more specific. Writing down what makes you happy will help you see what happiness means to you, which in turn will show you what you need to start doing to create more happiness in your life.
About 15 years ago, I started writing down my relationship goals. I didn’t get married until I was 35 because I had no idea what marriage was all about. I grew up with a single schizophrenic mother, I had no brothers or uncles, and I was afraid of and intimidated by men. When I wrote down my goal of getting married, I realized two things: 1) I was tired of unhealthy relationships with men who weren’t good for me; and 2) I had no idea how to be happy with a good, solid man.
So, I got counseling. I knew I couldn’t find love unless I got help. I’ve now been married for 10 years to a loving, dependable, kind, gentle, wonderful man who had actually been my friend for 17 years! I learned how to be happy – and my first step was writing down what I needed for happiness.
I’ve also been a Christian since I was in my late 20s. That makes me very happy, but it didn’t stop me from getting into some very unhealthy relationships.
Learn how to nurture and grow love
In the quote above, Brene Brown says love is a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them. In other words, we can only love others as much as we love ourselves. It follows that one of the most important tips on how to be happy is learning how to give and receive love.
If we hate ourselves – and we even abuse our bodies with drugs, food, alcohol, sex, lack of sleep or exercise, unhealthy foods – then our capacity for love diminishes. We can’t love and care for others if we don’t love and care for ourselves. If we aren’t happy with who we are, we can’t create healthy relationships. We can’t love fully, deeply, or madly.
How is your relationship with yourself? If you keep finding yourself in unhealthy relationships, can you see a pattern in the men you’re choosing? Does love exist within each of you?
You need to learn how to love yourself if you want to learn how to be happy. And, you need to learn how to choose men who are loving, kind, solid, dependable, trustworthy…and who love themselves.
Questions for you
Have you made a list of the things you believe will make you happy? If you haven’t, please feel free to share in the comments section below. Are unhealthy relationships making you unhappy? What do you imagine will help you move forward in your life?
I can’t give advice, but I welcome your thoughts.
Are you in an unhappy, unhealthy relationship? You may find How to Survive an Unhappy Marriage helpful.
On Blossom this week
Every week I write a Four-Day Series on specific topics for women who want to Blossom and flourish in all seasons of life. This week’s theme is “how to be happy” – and today we focuses on “unhealthy relationships.”
Here’s this week’s lineup:
- Mon – How to Be Happy Even in an Unhealthy Relationship (Imagine)
- Tues – 7 Lessons Learned in Unhealthy Relationships (Dare)
- Weds – 8 Secrets About Fixing Unhealthy Relationships (Prepare)
- Thurs – How to Gain Confidence and Create Healthy Relationships (Leap and Flourish!)
Do you feel like you can’t be happy in the relationship you’re in? Remember that giving up doesn’t always means you are weak. Sometimes it means you are strong enough to let go.
Is your relationship in trouble? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage from relationship coach Mort Fertel. It's free and helpful, no strings attached.
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