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.”
Anyone who has ever been in a relationship is most likely familiar with the little (and major) red flags that often come along with the territory.
You’ve probably been warned by everyone from your grandmother to Oprah about red flags in romantic relationships. Relationships, and the dating process, can be tricky. And navigating the sometimes stormy waters of love, and trying to determine if your partner is a catch, can be quite challenging.
How do they treat service staff? How do they react when you ask for a little space? Are they cruel to their mother? Do they pick their nose in public?
Have you ever met someone and wished you had a crystal ball to see into the future? We certainly do. It would save a ton of heartache and wasted energy. When we’re excited about a relationship, it’s easy to overlook the red flags that at least need to be explored. Of course, some red flags are more serious than others.
The longer you choose to pretend there’s nothing wrong, you’re going to continue subjecting yourself to unnecessary pain and suffering. When not addressed early on, then 4 weeks, 4 months or 4 years into the relationship you’ll be faced with a crisis and most likely left saying, “I had no idea they were so controlling/emotionally abusive/arrogant/manipulative…”
If any of these red flags are prevalent in your current relationship, it’s probably time you stop ignoring them and run for the hills.
7…Bringing You Down
Both of you must be comfortable doing separate things in the same room
14…Family and Friends
You know exactly what they’re thinking with the glimpse of an eye, have weird personal jokes together and literally, have zero clue what you did before they came into your life — yep, you’re in love — and the future has never looked so bright.
However, without getting all Grinchy on you, there are certain conversations you should have before locking that love down.
According to leading relationship expert Dr Karen Phillip, and author of new book, OMG We’re Getting Married – 7 Essential things to know before we say I Do, increasingly, couples are finding themselves at breaking point — post-marriage — as a result of not discussing important issues before tying the knot and having children.
“There is this assumption, because a couple is so in love and know each other so well, that they are on the same page, but it is incredibly important to talk about your finances, career goals and whether you want kids plus a whole range of other things before getting married,” said Phillip.
Surprising, right? That a couple wouldn’t talk about the prospect of kids before getting married. But according to Phillip it is more common than we think.
The same goes for finances. “I see couples who have been married for over 10 years, that still don’t know what the other earns,” Phillip said.
So, why the silence?
“We’re marrying later, we’ve been very independent all our lives — it’s been your own money, your own career and your own goals — but when you become a couple, that all changes and what you spend affects the other person — and that’s something people struggle to accept and understand,” she said.
Phillip advises discussions around finance should begin when you start living together.
“Not only should you disclose what you’re earning but also what you’ve spent — so any debts — because once you’re married, whatever financial problems your partner gets into, well, you own half of them,” she said.
Phillip said a joint account is a good idea for things like bills, groceries and social outings while still depositing a small amount of money into your own private account for yourself.
And when it comes to kids, whether marriage is on the cards or not, having the conversation — and revisiting it regularly is imperative.
“It’s not simply about how many you want, and how many years apart they will be, but you should also be discussing parenting style, whether the child will be baptised and who will be the main parent,” Phillip said.
If your career is going to escalate, who is going to be the first point of call at daycare or school and also, can you afford to put the kids into daycare if you are both going back to work?
Observing how your partner’s family interacts with each other will also give you an idea of what kind of parent they’ll be.
“Whether they’re complacent, firm, loving or dismissive — that teaches you a lot about the parent you’re going to have by your side,” she said.
And rather than assuming your partner is a mind reader, communication needs to continually evolve which in turn, will hopefully improve your relationship.
“Couples need to have date nights pre and post children. It’s usually only during these times, when you’re sitting alone with your partner over dinner, without any distractions like social media or the television, that you’re able to talk,” she said.
It’s here when there’s an opportunity to really pay attention to how the other person is feeling and what they’re thinking about.
“Couples who are a bit more logical might even list down what they plan to talk about to see where the other person is at. Sometimes you find that you are thinking differently about something,” Phillip said.
And if you’re able to do that regularly, without the infringement of friends around you all the time or social media always in your hand, the risk of future disagreements about the bigger issues will decrease.
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