Lots of people talk about how to have a healthy relationship. Beginning one might be easy, but keeping it is a challenge. We can all be of a certain mindset when we are trying not only to get our needs met but also to please another in pursuit of a lasting relationship.
Can you tell me why that effort falls short once the catch is made?
I am sure there are many answers to that question, but here are some certain ways to keep or improve what you worked so hard to get:
1. Try acceptance
Keep in mind that we are all different human beings.
Our DNA is not going to change, and neither are formative experiences from our early lives. It is important to see your significant other as he or she really is.
Avoid trying to change their essential character to suit you. I do not mean that modifications can’t be made. Of course, certain aspects of a person’s behavior can transform a bit. The ticket is to know what is possible and what isn’t possible.
Pick your battles, and be willing to consider that your own preferences might not be part of some universal law.
If someone is used to leaving dirty clothes on the bathroom floor, get creative and come up with ways to help change those dynamics. Remember, lasting change takes patience. Repetition may be needed until the change is made.
If this pesky flaw didn’t bother you while on the pursuit journey or during your honeymoon, why is it a big deal now?
2. Be affirming
We all need praise. Training my dog was a challenge, as I was determined to make him a therapy dog.
What worked best was praise and rewards. He loves pleasing me, and so will your significant other if they know what you want. The outcome is gratitude and joy rather than blame or additional demands.
The more I said “good boy,” the more my dog became a good boy. Of course, I am not asking you to treat your significant other this way but think about it for a minute. If you are told that you made such a difference because you said “thank you,” wouldn’t you do it more often?
If you got up early and had a hot cup of coffee ready for your honey, the odds of hearing a thank you and getting a smile are huge. If you want your partner to continue a new behavior, then affirming how happy you are seeing this change will most likely get more of it. We all love to hear praise.
Just a warning—some men don’t like to be called boys and would prefer a phrase like “terrific husband” or “best friend.”
3. Be open and honest
Say what you mean, and mean what you say. None of us likes puzzles. Yes, this is risky; but hinting around or expecting your partner to read your mind will lead to an abyss of doubt and resentment. Don’t assume that your partner knows what you mean.
Ask them to repeat back what was heard so you can make sure your message is not distorted.
This way you can respond effectively and reach an agreeable solution. Feel free to express your opinions and feelings without fear of being criticized. Think back to your relationship prior to marriage, when you were just getting to know each other, and remember how this was done.
4. Show affection
Holding hands, hugs, kisses on the neck, and a soft gesture of your hand may set the mood for a happy moment. Know what your partner needs and likes.
Being intimate holds different meanings for each person. Remember what it was like before the catch. Was it a purely physical act that was meaningful to your significant other—or was it just a look across the room, a word, or a touch on the shoulder? Whatever it was, bring it back and keep it going.
A healthy relationship is only as good as your most recent day together.
5. Making someone laugh is my favorite
For a life of happiness and love, we must be able to laugh at ourselves and at each other. Silly things are good things for tension relief and stress reduction. Life needs some simple moments to ease the pain and difficulties that may arise from an uncertain future.
This list is not complete.
It is a start at keeping the flame burning so you can have a “happily ever after.” Most of all, remember that keeping something is different than getting something. Or someone!
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
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.
More by Barbara Peters