Though we wish it wasn’t so, relationships aren’t like they seem in the movies.
Instead, they are often hard. They require work and are sometimes messy.
Love is a fundamental part of staying together but, relationship specialist Christina Spaccavento says it “isn’t the only factor that keeps a relationship healthy.”
Here’s seven tips from the experts for keeping your relationship alive.
The saying communication is key, is popular advice for a reason: because it works.
Spaccavento says, “Poor communication skills can destroy a relationship and it is often due to misunderstanding.”
Individuals have their own style of communicating and Gary Chapman’s, The 5 Love Languages is a great place to start understanding your partner’s communication style.
Avoid the blame game
It might be great having your partner as a scapegoat to blame all of your problems on, but Spaccavento doesn’t recommend it.
“Once we enter into a union with someone, it is essential to understand that we have entered a dynamic. So each person is likely to trigger the other one’s stuff,” she said.
“By owning and working through your own stuff you remove blame from your partner as well as improve your own ability to accept the differences of your partner.”
Invest in your relationship
Spaccavento said, “Invest in your relationship like you would anything else you are passionate about and interested in.
“This means seeing it as a living, breathing organism that needs your time, energy and nurturing for it to flourish.”
Celebrating your wins together
Celebrating the positives together is a really important aspect of keeping a relationship alive.
In her book, For Better: How the Surprising Science of Happy Couples Can Help Your Marriage Succeed, New York Times writer Tara Parker-Pope wrote: “It’s not enough that your partner knows that you take pride in his or her accomplishments. You have to show it. Making a fuss over the small, good things that happen every day can boost the health of your marriage.”
Similarly, Spaccavento says, “When you get together with someone, you become a team, so sharing your wins is a beautiful way to include your partner and share your joy together.”
Be mindful of the role technology plays in your relationship
Phubbing: the act of snubbing someone in favour of a mobile phone. It’s so common, there’s even a website created to spread awareness about the act. New research published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior found more than 46 per cent of participants had been phubbed by their partner.
Study co-author James A. Roberts told Yahoo Health, “We found that the ones that reported higher partner phubbing fought more with their partner and were less satisfied with their relationship than those who reported less phubbing.”
Taking into consideration your technology use and the impact it has on your partner is essential. “Having some ground rules around duration and location of technology usage is a great idea so that both partners can stay present and connected with each other,” says Spaccavento.
Don’t expect your spouse to make you happy
The only person responsible for your happiness is you.
“It sounds cheesy,” says Spaccavento. “But happiness really does come from within.”
For anyone struggling to find happiness, she recommends working with a qualified therapist to resolve any “happiness blockers.”
Don’t take your partner for granted
As a result of busy lives, whether it’s because of kids, extended family or your career, partners can sometimes take a back seat.
Trained couples and family therapist for Relationship Australia Matt Garrett says, “Acknowledging the commitment you’ve made to the other person and why” is important.
“You can do that on your own, but it really is about letting the other person know that they are in your mind.”
For busy couples Garrett suggests “carving out time” together. “It doesn’t happen automatically so you have to sit down and work out when that time is with no distractions where you prioritise that relationship.”