No one starts a new relationship saying, "Gee, I hope this really sucks. He makes me sooo miserable. I hope we stay together forever." I mean, not consciously anyway. Although now that I think about it, that would definitely help explain some of my past relationships. (Yes, David, I'm talking about you.) Anyway, the whole point of sharing your life with someone is to be happy with them, but that doest mean you know how to be happy in your relationship.
Here's the thing, though. It doesn't just happen; it actually takes work to make your relationship successful and emotionally satisfying. That may not sound very romantic; I mean, who doesn't want to be swept off their feet to a happy ending full of awesome sex and zero arguments whatsoever?
Yeah, that's not gonna happen.
Even though reality takes actual work, this is still awesome news, because what it means is that you have a lot more control over your own happiness and satisfaction than you might think. It turns out that, like in so many other areas in your life, it all comes down to having the right attitude and expectations. So, if you want to commit to being with this person forever, you'll need to commit to doing the following things, too.
1. Being Grateful
There are definitely things you are entitled to in a relationship, like emotional and physical safety and honesty. But approaching all areas of your relationship with an entitled attitude is a great way to make each other miserable. You’re guaranteed to be disappointed and resentful, and you can count on your partner picking up on that. Instead of focusing on small shortcomings, take a look at the bigger picture and spotlight the things you are grateful for.
2. Being Respectful
Treat your partner like you do your friends, and by that I mean with respect. You probably aren’t nitpicking and judging your friends, so why is it OK to do to a partner? Nothing kills a relationship faster than contempt. It’s absolutely lethal. Commit to leading with kindness and empathy and with the intent to help build them up instead of tearing them down.
3. Being A Teammate
One of the best things about being coupled up is having that person you know will have your back. Knowing you can have someone to get through the hard times with and a partner to enjoy the good times, too. But to not lose sight of in all this awesome togetherness, one thing you need to remember is your individuality. Don’t expect to meld into one person and spend every waking hour together. Remember to take time to be yourself and pursue the things you enjoy on your own, and encourage your partner to do the same.
4. Remembering You Have Needs, Too
When you really care about someone, it’s easy to get into the habit of putting their needs first. That’s a very kind thing to do, but do too much of it and you’re on the road to Resentmentville. The scary thing about this is that it can creep up on you slowly. So before you even begin down that path, make a commitment to yourself that you will do regular “state of the unions” with yourself. Are your needs being met? Are you happy? If not, what do you need? And then do some adulting by telling your partner how you’re feeling and specifically what you need from them.
5. Always Fighting Fair
This one can be hard, especially if you have a history of fighting dirty. But here’s the thing, when you fight dirty, even if you “win” the fight in the moment, you lose. Maybe you got your partner to relent and tell you that you were right just to make the fight stop. Or they went away so hurt and emotionally defeated it feels like a win. But man, was that a fail. Two things come out of fighting like that: It eats away at your bond and it doesn’t solve anything long-term.
If you want this relationship to have legs, you need to learn to fight fair. So, no getting nasty. Step out of the room for a moment to cool off if needed. Most importantly, practice mindful listening. What that means is taking turns giving each other time to speak uninterrupted, then responding with, “What I am hearing you say is….” That way, you don’t have miscommunication. Maybe it’s not as cathartic as flipping a table, but it’s a lot more effective at resolving things and keeping your relationship together.
6. Having Fun Together
When you’re first together, this comes pretty easily. That new relationship energy means you are looking for ways to spend time together and have fun. Eventually, though, life gets busy and you can forget to spend quality time together. Which is why you need to commit to spending a certain amount of time together each day (or week) to just have fun. Put the stress aside and just connect and remember why you’ve chosen each other, because you, ya know, like each other.
7. Having Alone Time, Too
Just as important as making time to connect with your partner, is to make some time to disconnect, too. Spending every moment together is not healthy. You need space to be separate from time to time, to maintain friendships and do the things that you as individual love. Plus, it gives you a chance to miss each other.
8. Keeping It Spicy
I don’t care how hot and heavy y’all are right now… give it a few years. It’s normal and natural for things to slow down a bit. Rather than just letting it be, commit to putting in a little extra work to keep things spicy. Try new positions, talk dirty, role play, get kinky. Commit to doing whatever it takes to keep it sexy, and both you and your partner will be grateful.
9. Being Happy
No, seriously, decide to commit to being happy. It’s all about taking proactive approach instead of waiting for someone else to make you be happy. In addition to having a positive attitude, pledge to stop sweating the small stuff. If it’s not major, let it go — you’re only stepping on your own potential joy. And try and really appreciate the small things and moments that enhance your happiness.
At the end of the day, you get decide how you approach things in life, especially your relationship. So why not decide today that it’s going to be amazing? You might be surprised what a self-fulfilling prophecy it is.
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