The One. Your soulmate. The love of your life.
It’s finally happened; you’ve found the person that gives your life more meaning. You wake up everyday excited because it’s another day that you get to spend with your person. Beautiful, loving relationships are the greatest things in the world, so they should be handled with care. Once you’ve found yourself in that forever partnership, it’s important that you keep it vibrant and respect it’s magnitude in your life. There are many things that you can do to make your relationship strong and loving, but the list of things you shouldn’t do is more compact. By avoiding just a handful of things, you can be sure that the person who has opened up the door to such happiness in your life won’t close it on you abruptly. Avoiding the following unacceptable behaviors will keep that loving, meaningful relationship alive.
One of the foundations of a strong relationship is trust. You don’t need to read an article or watch Dr. Phil to know that. We all know and have felt both ends of the spectrum of trust.
When you believe in someone and trust them with everything, it’s an incredible feeling. You feel secure. You feel cared for. You feel at peace. The opposite end of the spectrum tells a different story. We’ve all known someone—a friend, a family member, a coworker—that we couldn’t trust at all. When you don’t trust someone, you have to tread lightly as you interact with them. You know that at any given moment, they may pull the rug out from under you, leaving you hurt and exposed.
In order for your relationship to work, you need to commit to establishing a trustworthy atmosphere. If there are secrets that you’re keeping to yourself, you are playing a dangerous game. Whether it’s a financial, relational, or personal secret you’re holding onto, you are just waiting for it to taint the quality of your relationship. If you hold onto it for too long, you’ll be consciously aware that you can’t be trusted, and you won’t be able to be your best in the relationship. If your secret is revealed by accident, your trusting relationship with your partner will be broken. There’s no winning formula to the secret game.
Avoiding tough conversations
Maybe you didn’t want to share your secret with your spouse because it would be an incredibly uncomfortable conversation. Guess what? The more time you let that secret fester, the more uncomfortable that conversation will be. It’s best that you address those tough conversations up front.
Put your feelings out in the open and have a compassionate exchange with your partner about what needs to change to keep the love alive. If there’s something that’s bothering you, you need to take responsibility for that emotion and present it in a kind way. I’m not suggesting that you bring an arsenal of attitude and discontent to the discussion; it’s only going to be productive if you frame your concern in a way that supports your relationship. Unspoken resentment is just as toxic to your relationship as any secret you choose to keep. Be open and honest with each other sooner rather than later.
Having an affair: Physical or emotional
We all know that having a physical affair while in a committed relationship is no good. It’s rule #1 in the monogamy handbook. If you commit to spending your life with someone, with rings and a ceremony or not, it’s imperative that you protect that commitment with all that you have.
What is possibly more dangerous than a physical affair, however, is that of the emotional kind. Your “work wife” or your “boardroom boyfriend” may seem like innocent friendships, but be careful. If you’re sharing more, caring more, and showing up more positively for the person that isn’t your wife, husband, boyfriend or girlfriend, you may be bringing a slow end to your relationship at home.
As you grow closer to the person you work with, or that woman you see on the subway everyday, you are creating more distance between you and your partner. You’ll feel that distance, but more importantly, so will they. Once you drift too far apart, it will be extremely difficult to pull it back together. Be careful with your relationships outside of the one that is most important to you.
“I did the dishes, the laundry, and took the kids to school today. What have you done?”
Are you keeping a mental scoreboard in your head of all the things you do for your love? If you are, then you are derailing one of the best things you can have in your life. When you start to see the daily things you do for your partner as transactions of “i’ve done” vs. “you’ve done”, it degrades the value of the tasks you complete. No longer are you acting out of love and kindness. You’re acting out of one-upmanship. When your courtship turns into a competition, it’s going to be hard to keep both parties happy.
This links back to having tough, productive conversations within your relationship. As stated above, these conversations are important because it allows for both parties voices to be heard and understood. What is equally important is to walk away from those conversations with closure on the subject. If you were speaking to your partner about something they said that hurt your feelings, that exchange should be the last time it comes up. Use the conversation to air out how you’re feeling and make sure they understand your point of view. Once you resolve the issue, you should move past it. If you keep it around for ammo in a future argument, you’re just as bad as your partner for the initial stinging remark. Not only that, but holding that grudge is only going to increase your level of resentment for the person you care about the most. Have the tough conversation, resolve the issue, and move on. Letting the hurt and anger linger is going to spell disaster for the long term health of the relationship.
These five behaviors need to be avoided at all costs if you want your relationship to last. You shouldn’t accept them from your partner, and I guarantee they won’t accept them from you.
More honesty, less secrets. More forgiveness, less resentment. Make them feel your love, don’t let them have to figure it out it’s still there. Make your relationship the best it can be.