Good for you—you met someone! The hard part of actually finding someone is over! But is it? Falling in love is powerful, important and often challenging.
Now your love task is to grow your relationship—a process that does not necessarily take care of itself. But how, exactly, do you do that? These tips can help you be your best self, and create a loving environment so you can stay in love.
What to Do—or Not Do!
1. Don’t use criticism or sarcasm to express your unhappiness.
You can’t criticize your way to making your partner change. After all, did you like it when your family members treated you that way? Of course not!
Instead, know that you are unhappy, and tell your partner that something is bothering you.
Recognize that your impulse to be sarcastic or critical as a sign that you are unhappy. Most often, you are feeling disrespected, neglected or misunderstood. And so, partially because you feel frustrated and perhaps powerless, you fire back. And, if you come from a family that used this style, then you are more likely to fall back on using it, too.
2. Don’t leave your partner in the dark to guess about the importance of what is bothering you or is happening in your life.
The most loving partner is not a mind-reader. And when your partner senses your unhappiness, he or she often tends to think they are at fault. As a result, he or she might get defensive—or avoid you!
Instead, give your partner a number from one to ten, with the highest, as to the importance of talking about your issue now. Or, schedule a time with your partner later. You can minimize your partner’s tendency to get defensive if you add that you need their input and that you want to work as a team.
3. Don’t try to change your partner.
Well, you’ve probably heard this warning too many times. But is it really good advice? Yes and no! You can’t change your partner by wishing and hoping and criticizing.
Instead, focus on being a role model for good communication. Partners do absorb and learn new ways of communicating. Know your partner’s “hot buttons,” such as having a critical parent, and let your partner know that you are not going to find fault with him or her.
4. Don’t rely on constantly complaining or bickering about the same issue.
Broken records get ignored and tuned out after a while!
Instead, get solution-oriented! Brainstorm with your partner some ways of solving the problem. And even offer ones that seem “way out.” Often, these seemingly unrealistic ideas spark good ones.
5. Don’t ignore those “Hot Topics.”
Over the years, these “swept-under-the-rug” issues eventually spoil, and taint love.
Instead, get brave—and warm! Strong, healthy relationships can withstand talk about affairs, bad decisions, forgotten birthdays, and other slights. Arrange a time to talk out the incidents. When you discuss what is bothering you, develop a tentative solution, and get brave enough to be honest about your role in the problem—and to apologize! Maintain some kind of physical contact. Touching and apologizing are great healers.
6. Don’t stick to rigid rules of who does what in the relationship.
Yes, each person has strengths and weaknesses. But, over time, couples can build resentment and feel undervalued.
Instead, do something that you partner usually does—and may not like. These acts of kindness are powerful ways of making your partner know you understand and value them.
7. Don’t minimize the importance of celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates.
Couples can easily get in the rut of only “sort of” honoring key events. Eventually, these minimalistic acknowledgments feel exactly like minimal respect or care.
Instead, establish celebration rituals.
These rituals are part of the “emotional glue” that makes you and your partner feel you have a special, sacred relationship. And you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot—or any—money. You can create new rituals, tweak the other ones, or do the same thing every year. Those decisions should be mutual.
Hope these ideas keep your love alive!
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