A relationship involves two people – two imperfect, selfish, independent people. When those two individuals unite, the relationship can at times feel strained or uncomfortable. Many people choose to end a partnership because of differences or an inability to cooperate. Unlike fairytales, true love stories lean very heavily on compromise and sacrifice to flourish. What are you willing to sacrifice to ensure your relationship is successful? Start with the small things!
1. Look for the unspoken words
In the initial stages of a relationship, it is easy to sit back and listen to your partner, to soak up every word spoken as the two of you get to know one another at a deeper level than mere friends. However, as a relationship progresses, it is easy to become distracted, to see your partner’s conversation as a daily necessity or task rather than a privilege. The first small sacrifice that can return your relationship to balance is taking the time to truly listen to your loved one. Listen to what is being said, both with words and without words. Sometimes the most poignant messages are sent through body language or closeness. Do not disregard your partner’s emotions; pay attention and use your time with your significant other wisely!
2. Pay attention to needs
Your partner may not always ask for what he or she needs from you. Whether these needs are for physical well being, emotional intimacy, or deeper connection, it is important to sacrifice your tendency to look inwardly and focus on the needs of your loved one. What is it that makes them tick? Is there something getting in the way of their happiness or pleasure? It may surprise you just how positively your loved one will respond to your needs if you begin to pay attention to theirs.
3. Ask rather than tell
No person enjoys being told what to do. Whether it is a supervisor, a parent, a friend, or a partner, it is frustrating to not have a say in what consequences your actions may bring – positive or negative. Rather than simply telling your significant other how things will be or what you want, ask! Asking, rather than telling, will go a long way towards regaining your loved one’s respect and gratitude. An attitude of thankfulness and appreciation breeds security and trust in a relationship. You may find your partner responding in the same way towards you, and a sense of true gratitude for one another will develop.
In addition to being willing to ask, it is important to use words wisely. Words have power; they can raise a person up or tear them down. To pursue a healthy and happy relationship, it is important for your words to speak life to your partner. There will be times of anger, disagreement, frustration, and hardship, but it is during those times that it is most important to monitor the words you use. Once said, they cannot be taken back or erased. Forgiveness should be plentiful in a relationship, but forgiveness does not always heal the wound words can create. It is a small sacrifice to be mindful of the words you choose to speak to your partner, but it is a sacrifice that will make a world of difference.
Also watch: How to Find Happiness in Your Marriage
5. Take care of yourself
Lastly, as important as it is to make sacrifices for your partner, you cannot do so if you do not take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Regular exercise, time spent renewing your energy, good sleep, and expression of emotions are all essential parts to leading a balanced lifestyle. The happier you are with your own presence and countenance, the more confident your partner will feel in their ability to trust in and rely on you. Do not overindulge in this time, as that can cause distance and separation from your partner – but be mindful of when you are feeling empty or in need of time spent alone. Ignoring this need can cause you to unnecessarily reflect your frustration on your loved one when he or she is not at fault. Take the time to be the best you can be, not for yourself, but for the person you love and with whom you have chosen to spend your life!
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Elizabeth McCormick is a Licensed Social Worker and mental health counselor at the University of Evansville. She has worked for several years with children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families and has pursued continued education in the fields of suicide prevention and community awareness. She is an advocate for learning and has had the opportunity to teach college courses in the fields of Human Services, Sociology, and Communication Studies. Despite being career driven, she enjoys running (three marathons and counting!), reading for pleasure, writing, and spending time with family. And though she lives in a Midwest town surrounded by corn and soy fields, she considers anywhere near the ocean to be more like home.
(Elizabeth McCormick is also listed in Best Marriage Therapists in Evansville)