Since I was a kid, my father has bestowed upon me the age-old advice, “hard work is never easy.” I have found this to be the case in nearly every aspect of my life, but perhaps this lesson has been the most challenging in the romantic relationships category. From finding the perfect mate to making it work long term, there is a lot of effort that needs to be put forth. That being said, the payoff for hard work is well worth it. No matter if you are married, engaged or dating; here are six suggestions for how you can keep your relationship strong.
While this may seem like a given, it’s amazing to me how little time the average couples spends communicating. Of course there is the usual chit chat and “how was your day dear?” kind of banter but getting down to the heart of it, real communication means infinitely more. If there is something that has been bothering you or an area of the relationship that is making you unhappy, simply ignoring it isn’t going to do the trick. Its best when the other person in the relationship knows these concerns so that you can work on a solution together and hopefully keep the situation from getting out of hand. Even if things are great in the relationship, spending quality time discussing more in depth topics is a way for you to channel and heighten your emotional intimacy.
2. Choose You’re Battles Wisely
It seems that after mentioning the need for open communication choosing your battles wisely is a necessary follow up. Perhaps too much of the wrong kind of communication can be hurting your relationship. If you decide to air every single grievance this is too much of the wrong kind of communication without a doubt. If your partner does things that drive you crazy, decide what would be worse, having a large fight about it, or simply trying to ignore the challenge. It’s all about deciding which is the lesser of two evils and then coming to terms with your decision.
3. Make Time For You
Too many times in relationships, couples forget that they need their own space and end up compromising their own interests which of course leads to unhappiness down the road. Of course there is that beginning “honeymoon phase” in any relationship where it seems that nothing else matters except for the other person but…hate to be the bearer of bad news…that part fades. But like everything else in life, change isn’t always a bad thing. Relationships transition and once they do, you will find yourself missing the friends, hobbies and other activities that you may have momentarily cast aside. Rediscover these interests and a little space will not only improve your relationship but also allow you to enjoy the things that make you who you are!
4. Complement One Another
It doesn’t matter if you have been together 10 weeks or 10 years, complements don’t get old. It’s all too easy to get drawn into that lull of “comfort” (which is a great place to be) but since you are not only best friends but lovers too, it’s important to take the time to make each other feel special. While many of us are quick to point out flaws, we aren’t as quick to dish out complements. Take time to tell you partner you appreciate them and help boost their strengths. Everyone enjoys feeling like they have been recognized for all the good they have done, whether this means making a wonderful romantic dinner or spending 30 extra minutes to get ready to go somewhere.
5. Get Away Together
There is something magical about vacation. As kids we play in the sand, frolic in the waves and go to bed exhausted and happy. It’s important to take time out from the stress of work or of raising a family and to reconnect in a new and exciting place. No matter what your budget, set money aside for a weekend getaway every now and then.
If a relationship consists of “all work and no play,” it’s one that will have a relatively short shelf life. Yes, we are creatures of habit but this doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy a break from the routine ever now and again!
At last, the one thing that seems so simple but really is hard to master is the art of compromise. Nothing is harder than really believing you are right and having to give up at least part of your battle for the sake of the relationship. There is of course a time to stand up for what you believe in and accept no less than you deserve, but when it comes to maintaining a harmonious relationship, a little bit of compromise can go a long way.
Emily Murray is a health writer for KwikMed.com, the company recently appointed by Watson Pharmaceuticals as the exclusive online distributor for the newest morning after pill, ella. Emily is also a former dating and relationship columnist.