No one is happy all of the time
No one is happy all of the time

Three things you should say if you think your partner is unhappy

Use these three different approaches to find out if your partner is satisfied in your relationship

Kristin Salaky
Business Insider
Wednesday 12 July 2017 13:39

One of the most common misconceptions about long-term relationships is that couples should be happy all of the time. Obviously, that's not realistic. Life is pretty long and sometimes people hit roughs patches that can take a toll on their happiness level.

If you sense your partner is unhappy, it can feel like the end of the world or the end of your relationship, but that's not always the case.

To get to the root of the problem though, you have to figure out if there's a problem at all. INSIDER spoke with relationship experts about the best way to address your partner's perceived unhappiness.

Relate it to you.

Everyone feels unhappy sometimes and your partner will be more open to sharing those feelings of unhappiness with you if they feel like you're both in the same boat.

Let them know the next time you don't quite feel like yourself or are having a bad day in order to set the tone for the relationship of openness and safety.

“Can you recall a time when you weren't feeling like your best self or perhaps a time when you were questioning whether you should stay or flee, hide or speak up?” Chelsea Leigh Trescott, a breakup coach, told INSIDER. “Start there. It will show your significant other that there is no shame to be feeling how they are feeling, and it will offer them hope that hey can bounce back.”

Once you've opened up that conversation, you can then bring it around to a question or statement more directed at your partner. Keep the tone gentle and non-accusatory so they can understand that what they're feeling is normal and common.

Psychotherapist Patti Sabla suggests framing the statement like this:

“Sometimes I get really stressed and don't realise I have fallen into a funk (or gotten depressed, or withdrawn, or am not acting like myself, etc.). Could that be happening for you right now?”

Open up the floor to suggestions.

If you are lucky enough to spend a lot of time with your partner, chances are you've both shared fantasies with each other. You might talk about what you'd do with a million dollars, what you'd change about yourself, or which celebrity you'd like to be.

Another good way to frame a conversation about a partner's potential unhappiness is similar to this. Ask your partner what they could have — realistically — from you or their life in general to improve it. If you make them comfortable and make it seem like just another hypothetical they'll be more likely to open up.

From there, you may be able to either implement that change or use it as context for finding out what could be bothering them, if anything.

Buyer beware though: You should be prepared to hear something you may not like. Remember that if you don't get defensive, they'll be more likely to be honest.

“They may say there are problems in the relationship and you may disagree,” Joshua Klapow, psychologist and relationship expert told INSIDER. “But if you asked, it is on you to listen. Take the information in.”

Sabla suggests a question like this:

“If you could wake up tomorrow and everything were perfect, what would that look like? What would be different in your life? What would remain the same?”

Be direct.

If all of these routes seem counter-intuitive to you, you may just be better asking your partner point blank if there is something they would like to talk about and if there is anything you can do to help them if they are unhappy.

This can work wonders because it will show them that you're intuitive, care enough to address their issues, and will get down to the point.

“I suggest not beating around the bush, and simply asking them outright, from a position of empathy and concern versus hostility,” David Bennett, counselor and co-author of the site “The Popular Man,” told INSIDER. “Many relationship problems develop because there isn't direct communication.”

This approach does come with some risks though. It can be jarring to point out possible unhappiness out of the blue, so make sure you approach it with care. Don't reach for the question in a moment of frustration, but do it in a way that let's them know that you see how they might be hurting and that you want to help.

Psychotherapist Gary Brown suggests a question like this:

“I've noticed that you have been a bit withdrawn lately. I care about you and am concerned. Can you tell me what's happening for you?”

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Read the original article on Business Insider UK. © 2016. Follow Business Insider UK on Twitter.

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