Relationships and the experiences that we have within them shape who we are as a person. Romantic relationships in particular can be very fulfilling yet complicated at the same time. A satisfying partnership requires a delicate balance of communication, selflessness, knowing how to pick and choose your battles, and knowing when you need to put yourself first. There is no single way or method to achieve a happy and healthy relationship, but there are certain guidelines that are helpful to follow. In Karen Tietjen’s article, 15 Things Relationships Should Teach You By 50, According to Therapists, the author explores several lessons or guidelines that help couples achieve success in their long-term relationships. This post will discuss some of the key guidelines.
Guideline #1: Your relationship must be number one
I believe this rule is very important. Life can be very unpredictable and demanding at times, and prioritizing our relationship can fall to the wayside during those crazy moments. However, it is detrimental that we catch ourselves when we are not putting our relationship first, and both partners share this responsibility. One factor that makes this guideline hard to follow is children. There is no doubt that children require much of your attention and love, but if all of their needs come before your partnership all the time, your relationship may suffer. Take the plunge and find someone to watch your kids for an evening or weekend, and spend quality one-on-one time with your partner recharge. Also, evidence shows that children’s well-being is directly related to the well-being of the parents’ relationship.
Guideline #2: Do small, positive things often
This is a great rule, and if you follow it, it can have a huge impact on your relationship. It is important to show your partner appreciation and affection regularly. You know your partner’s language and what kind of affection they like, so make sure that you are giving that positive attention to them. And your partner should be doing that for you as well! If this is missing in your relationship, talk to your partner about it. Let them know what you’d like to see more of, and let them tell you what kind of affection they would like in return. Positively reinforce these behaviors by engaging in them often and by acknowledging that you appreciated the gesture. Showing love and affection for one another is a key element for a healthy and happy partnership.
Guideline #3: Comfort is a good thing – it doesn’t have to mean that something is missing
We often hear people use the phrase “I think we just got too comfortable with one another” as a reason for the relationship not working. Comfort is actually a good thing to feel in a relationship – it brings a sense of security and safety. Security, dependability, and predictability are very valuable aspects of a relationship, especially as we get older. Having a partner that you’re comfortable with and know will have your back is very special, and it is important.
Guideline #5: Make it a point to repair your arguments
Fights happen in all relationships (although they look different for each couple). They are inevitable and it is normal to argue. However, how you handle your fights is crucial. You cannot fight with the goal of being right in the end. It is important that both you and your partner handle conflicts in a gentle, positive way. Do not degrade or belittle your partner. Listen to each others’ perspectives, seek to understand one another, and work to find an agreeable solution. Do not forget the power of genuine apology – it’s a positive thing when you’re able to “I’m sorry” and mean it.
Romantic partnerships are ever evolving and require a lot of love, energy, and commitment. If you feel that you and your partner have been struggling in your relationship, couples therapy may be beneficial. Contact Symmetry Counseling to get connected with one of our talented clinicians today!