Simple Tools for Happy Relationships

Feb 3, 2023 | Dennis Heppner, Marriage

happy relationships - featured

For most people, their level of happiness has to do with two main things: their relationships and their finances. When it comes to material things, it’s all relative. If you are accustomed to 6-figure salaries and it drops significantly, you will probably be unhappy. Yet someone else could be content at the same level of income or much less.

The thing I really want to explore is our level of happiness with relationships. Most people live with some level of frustration and discontent with their spouse or partner. In the first bloom of romantic relationships, unhappiness can come very quickly once the “honeymoon” or newness is over and reality sets in. The reason is that our expectations are often unrealistic and unspoken.

Rarely do people sit down and negotiate the terms of a relationship, nor do they negotiate their expectations.

Rarely do people sit down and negotiate the terms of a relationship, nor do they negotiate their expectations. The assumption is always that “You complete me! You will be what I expect!” And wow, that doesn’t usually work out. Is the relationship really that bad, or are we just disappointed and disillusioned with each other?

This lack of negotiation also blurs our values as to what is important. We haven’t discussed what we will fight for, stand up for, and insist on as being fundamentally important. We haven’t “picked our battles!”

To be real, there are many things in a relationship that are just preferences and have nothing to do with our actual values or standards. But to save time and trouble, we must learn to negotiate. We learn to set parameters and then focus on keeping our end of the bargain. We need to focus on being “the right person” in our relationship rather than demanding that our partner be the right person.

Selfishness is a love killer. The greatest asset in determining how happy you will be in relationships is often determined by how much you can overlook. The “LOVE CHAPTER” in 1 Corinthians gives us God’s standards of a successful relationship:

Love is patient, love is kind…
It does not envy, it does not boast…
It is not proud…
It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking.
It is not easily angered…
It keeps no record of wrongs…
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth…
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes,
always perseveres…

Some people fight about everything. Every discussion requires nuclear warfare, going for the kill, and proving yourself to be right. If you have to be right all the time to be happy, give it up now, or you are never going to be happy.

A high-powered executive once said, “I consider myself lucky to be right 50% of the time.” Smart man! When we have limited experience in successful relationships, with our own bias, our overly sensitive emotions, and our unrealistic expectations, it’s unlikely that we’ll get it right all the time.

If relationships are important to you, never quit negotiating. We as humans change and grow throughout life. The person you first married is perhaps very different than the one you’re married to 20 years later. We keep changing and so do the people we relate to. Renegotiation will be necessary as time goes on. But never give up! Persevere and follow the standards of the LOVE CHAPTER as given by God, and you will be happy.

Dennis Heppner grew up in Canada and was called to ministry as a young boy. Dennis and his wife Denie, who was also called to missions as a child, pastored 4 churches in Canada, but in 1987 the door opened to come to the Philippines as missionaries. They brought their 4 eldest children with them and the kids grew up here. In 2006 they adopted Emma Rose, a special Filipino treasure and a gift from God to their family.

Dennis has been a missionary evangelist in Asia for 25 years. He was the director of LIFESCHOOLS of ministry and pastored 3 churches in the early years of his ministry based in the Philippines. He is currently the founder and President of Developing Effective Leaders (DEL), superintendent of Church of God West Asia, and the founding and lead Pastor of the vibrant, growing Church of God Makati.

Dennis and Denie and their whole family, including Josh and Melody who live in Canada, are committed to missions, leadership, and the call of Christ.

Read more of Ptr. Dennis’s articles HERE!

Featured image by tirachardz on Freepik

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