Often when we consider the challenges of the world of dating, they revolve around how to meet someone, the awkward first meeting, and how to ‘fall in love’. However, the struggles don’t end just because you find yourself in a committed relationship. In fact, this is where the real work begins.
Relationships may bring us great joy, but they are also a lot of hard work, demanding dedication, compromise, effort, and attention. Even if you’re ready to put the commitment necessary in, do you even know where to get started?
Here are 12 tips to help you improve any relationship:
#1 – Be Present in Your Relationship
We live in a world where we are often far too distracted by everything else around us. ‘Romantic dinners’ together are spent with our phones out, and conversations are interrupted by our favorite television shows. Try putting all your distractions aside, practicing mindfulness and truly being ‘in the moment’. This will show your partner that you consider them to be a priority in your life, while also helping you to truly enjoy and appreciate all that you have.
#2 – Ask Questions
Never underestimate the power of asking questions to build a healthy, lasting relationship. Not only does this allow you to gain information you may have otherwise missed, getting answers to some of the most baffling questions, but it also shows genuine interest to your partner. It tells them that you really care because you want to understand them, their thoughts and their opinions better. Making it part of your regular communication practices to ask questions of your partner each time your communicating, and you will strengthen your relationship.
#3 – Take Ownership Over Your Statements
You are never going to see eye to eye 100%, that’s the reality of bringing two different personalities together in this way. If you do have a difference of opinion, take ownership of your thoughts and feelings. Share your statements using an ‘I’ statement, such as ‘I feel disappointed when you…’. This allows for communication within your relationship about some of the more challenging situations, without either party feeling judged or attacked.
#4 – Trust Your Partner, or Bail Now
An integral part of a healthy, lasting relationship, if you don’t have trust then your relationship is doomed to fail. This is true both if you’ve never had trust, lying to yourself since the start of your relationship, or if that trust has been lost due to something that occurred along the way. Take a long hard look, can the necessary trust be established? If not, do yourself a favor and cut ties now.
#5 – Take A Time-Out When Needed
Emotions can be an intense experience, and while we try as hard as we can to manage them and approach discussions in our relationship with a level mind, that’s not always possible. Learn to identify when your emotions are starting to take over, and take a step back as needed. There is nothing wrong with taking a moment to breathe and process a situation before responding to a situation. This is a great way to develop better emotional intelligence. Words spoken out of anger will often lead to hurt feelings and conflict.
#6 – Regularly Express Appreciation
Never take your loved ones for granted. It’s important to take some time on a regular basis to stop and reconsider all the amazing things that you have in your relationship. Take note of even the smallest things that your partner does for you and take the time to say thank you. Remember, it’s not the big gestures and over the top situations, it’s the little things that you do and the simple words that mean the world. This attention to detail can make a massive difference in your relationship, filling your partner with love.
#7 – Avoid Over Criticism and Put-Downs
Let’s be honest, none of us are without our own flaws and weaknesses. While you may be frustrated in a given situation, avoid attacking you partner or putting them down. This only invites negativity into the relationship, driving a wedge between you. While you may mean well, nothing good will come from it. Instead, be supportive while providing positive feedback where necessary. In this way, you can both grow together.
#8 – Be Open to Positive Feedback
This builds on the previous point. If you are giving positive feedback to your partner, you need to be willing to take feedback in return. This involves being honest, both with yourself and your partner. You need to accept and admit to your own mistakes and weaknesses, and willing to reflect on the ways that you can improve in the same way that you expect your partner to. This is a two-way street, so play fair.
#9 – Stay Honest
We’ve all been there at one time or another when it appears like telling a little white lie could spare you a ton of pain and conflict in the moment. The problem is that these little white lies catch up with us, and when our partner discovers the truth, it hurts even more than if we had just been honest, to begin with. To top it all off, it can lead your partner to question everything else you’ve ever said, no longer sure what’s truth and what’s fiction. Choose honesty right from the beginning, and you will be better off in the long run.
#10 – Keep Your Tone in Check
We spend a lot of time focusing on what words we are speaking; however, experts say that this isn’t the only way that we are communicating with our partner. In fact, something as simple as the tone of your voice when you are speaking can completely change the meaning of what we are communicating. Pay careful attention to the way that you are speaking, or a genuine, well-meaning message can quickly turn into an argument.
#11 – Listen and Don’t Interrupt
If your partner is talking to you, especially if they are sharing their opinions on a difficult situation, this isn’t easy for them. Rather than interrupting them, showing that you don’t respect their opinion, practice your active listening skills. Try putting yourself in their shoes, understanding the situation from their point of view. You may be surprised what you can learn by stepping outside of your own head.
#12 – Never Forget to Say ‘I Love You’
While these three little words are often seen as overly cheesy, but you should never underestimate the power of love. It may not overcome all, as we have often been told, but it can create a deep, powerful connection, a foundation for a long-lasting relationship. However, it’s not a one-time thing. Fall in love with your partner every day, and make sure that they know it!