“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” – Lao Tzu
Relationships are hard. In fact, according to Lisa Blum, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist in Southern California, “The strongest most enduring relationships take lots of hard work.”
Our ideas about the “perfect” relationship often get in the way of the work we need to do. It’s easy to lose sight of the goal – which should be to live a happy life together.
“Nothing is perfect. Life is messy. Relationships are complex. Outcomes are uncertain. People are irrational.” ~ Hugh Mackay
Knowing nothing is perfect, and that relationships are complex, it makes sense to be mindful about how we approach them.
Here are 5 things every relationship needs to stop doing:
Stop Taking Each Other For Granted
Once the honeymoon period of your relationship is over, it is easy to become complacent and take each other for granted. Not intentionally, of course, it just happens. It starts by forgetting to thank your partner when he picks you up from work or can be something as simple as answering your phone during dinner.
The Fix: Start being grateful
Appreciating your partner and being thankful for the little things they do, set a foundation of gratitude in your relationship. Research suggests that expressing gratitude to your partner can make your relationship stronger, make your partner feel valued and increase your commitment to the relationship and your partner.
And it’s not just external expressions of gratitude that are beneficial either. Internal expressions of gratitude for your relationship are just as important. Feeling grateful for your partner and your relationship but not necessarily expressing it will increase your and your partner’s satisfaction levels.
Stop Being Couch Potatoes
In order to be happy in a relationship, you must first be happy with yourself. When life gets busy and hectic, making exercising together a priority can be challenging. There are a million reasons to skip your workout but how does that make you feel – sluggish or lazy, maybe? Those are not feelings you want to bring into your relationship.
The Fix: Start exercising together
Exercising together is a great way to build a stronger relationship. Couples that exercise together will see physical benefits, but you will be surprised to learn that your emotional connections also become stronger.
Stop Trying to One-Up Each Other
Everyone knows that communication is a critical building block to a solid relationship but communicating with each other is only half the battle. The other half is communicating using the same language. Much of any day is spent trying to impress colleagues, friends, and acquaintances. You might not be consciously doing it, but it’s happening. When that need to impress comes into your relationships, it can work against you.
The Fix: Start talking the same language
Stop trying to be better and start finding common ground. When you and your partner are working from the same vocabulary list including quantifiers, pronouns, and adjectives, you have a higher likelihood of getting on the same page and keeping it together.
Stop Clinging to Each Other
A relationship is only as strong as its two parts, and when those two parts get lost, the bond weakens. The initial attraction in any relationship is the individual qualities of each person. Fostering those characteristics and allowing you and your partner to continue to grow as individuals will make your relationship healthier and more satisfying.
The Fix: Don’t be afraid to spend time apart
Make self-discovery and growth a priority. Learn to appreciate each other during absences. It emphasizes the value of your relationship and makes you covet what you have.
Stop Setting Expectations
Setting expectations beyond love can backfire. As two people work together on a relationship, the people, and the relationship will evolve. The problem with expectations is they rarely evolve in pre-determined ways. Setting expectations means you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
The Fix: Let the relationship naturally evolve
Love freely, nurture your relationship and allow it to grow without limitations. Let your love for each other, not your expectations, determine where your relationship will go. Every relationship goes through ups and downs, peaks and valleys. There will be days when you are so in love that you can’t think of anything else and then there will be days when you feel like giving up. That is normal. What is not normal is giving up.
Remember, you are in a partnership and partnerships require respect, commitment, communication, and compromise. It’s not all about you. Instead, it is a formula that includes both you and your partner. That means their happiness is just as important as yours. And when you make each other’s happiness a priority, you will see your relationship thrive.