I think we can all agree – IF we’re willing to be honest – that relationships can be bloody hard. We sometimes don’t like to admit that they’re hard, so we pretend otherwise. We plaster pretty images all over social media to prove to ourselves - and the world - that we’re happy and know what the hell we’re doing.
I didn’t really know what I was doing when I was married. I did the attractive couple photo thing and swept a lot of the more important stuff under the carpet. In arguments, I either fought to win or backed down completely – either way saw me seething with resentment.
Now, I am no longer married, but I AM in a committed relationship. And I’m committed to doing things better this time round. I know I’m a work in progress – as are we all – and that I still have some learning to do. But, thanks to a lengthy period of soul-searching and research between relationships, I’m no longer completely clueless!
I honestly believe that if all of us – women AND men – invested a little time in being a better relationship partner, the world would be a brighter place. Here are five things you can do right now.
HOW TO BE A BETTER RELATIONSHIP PARTNER:
DON’T invest everything in your partner
For the love of god, get a life of your own! And by a life of your own I DON’T just mean drinks with the girls or boys every second month! I mean sit down, really, and think about who you are and what you want in life. Who would you be without your partner? Do you remember who you were and what you liked before you met your partner?
If the answers for any of these questions is a resounding negative – you have some work to do! Look at some means for maintaining a sense of your own identity (while still being in the relationship). Do you have your own source of income? Your own friends and your own interests? If not, it is possible that you are investing in and relying too heavily on your partner.
THIS can breed resentment in not only you, but your partner. And we all know that resentment spells bad news for relationships.
DON’T neglect intimacy
Whether we want to acknowledge it or not – sex is important in a committed relationship. We can sometimes lose sight of this fact when we have demanding jobs and children and lives. Try not to! Make time for it. Tell your partner what you like and need, and allow him or her do the same for you.
If needed, schedule some ‘alone’ time – regular nights when you can get out of the house and forget about the drudgery of it all. I know that there’s nothing like a messy house and an endless to-do list to kill any thought of romance.
This may sound like cliché advice – but it is important. A lot of relationships fail due to lack of love and intimacy. A LOT.
DON’T be a stalker
Everybody has a basic right to privacy. This relationship, I have chosen not to put myself through the anxiety that comes from worrying about what may or may not be on my partner’s phone/email/whatever else. And, being the kind of person that he is, it actually wouldn’t even occur to him to check anything of mine!
Relationships need a level of trust in order to survive. If you find yourself feeling fearful or suspicious - check where the fears are coming from before approaching your other half. Don’t let previous hurts ruin a potentially beautiful relationship. This is one mistake I’m absolutely determined not to make!
DON’T argue to win
Too often, we lose sight of what we are even arguing about. Once emotions are involved, arguments often become nothing more than a battle of wills. We want to be right, and we want to prove to our partner just how right we are. We stop listening to the other side of the argument – all of our energy is focused purely on finding the next comeback.
Next time you find yourself in an argument (debate – as my partner prefers to call it), try doing this: STOP. Stop the noise and anger and confusion in your head. Stop interrupting - stop talking altogether for a minute. BREATHE. Listen to what your partner is saying – REALLY listen. See if there is a valid point being made. Then, and only then, respond. Do your very best NOT to respond when your emotions are ruling the game. And if your partner has made a valid point? Do your best to acknowledge it.
If we each did this each time we found ourselves in disagreement, what a simpler world we would live in!
Focus on yourself
Now, I understand this may sound counter-intuitive. If we want to be a better partner, we should give attention to and put focus on our other half, yes? Well, yes and no. Focus on being a good partner, by all means. But focus on being a good person first. Once you have yourself sorted, you may just find that everything else falls into place.
You only have control over YOU. You really cannot change anybody but yourself - so don’t put yourself through the pain and frustration and heartbreak of trying. If there is something about the other person that is COMPLETELY unacceptable to you – by all means address it with them. Or, choose not to be with them.
Just DON’T waste your energy, or your life, trying to turn somebody into something that they have no hope of being. We are all unique, and we all have our good and our bad. Focus on being the best person YOU can be. And let others do the same for themselves.
Do you have anything to add? I'd love to hear it! Share in the comments.
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