There is nothing more devastating than heartbreak. It comes in all forms. Breakups. Divorce. Death. But although the pain is unbearable at times, most of us still want that perfect relationship. We swallow the hurt, learn from our mistakes, and move on with optimism and hope. At any given time, thousands of singles are dating and forming new relationships. How can you lay the foundation for a successful, long-term relationship? Are there any tried and true tips that can help you? The answer is an enthusiastic yes!
Everyone is busy. Between work and school and kids (if you have them), most of us end the day completely drained and exhausted. Unfortunately, the end of the day is when we try to connect with our SO. What happens when you give what is left over at the end of the day to your SO? The answer is not much! We need to give our SO the best of our time rather than what’s left over at the end of the day. This can be hard. It requires thought and planning. It may require some special texts or phone calls throughout the day; special notes tucked into lunches or left on the mirror; a thoughtful treat left in their car; a heart drawn in the snow on their windshield; putting toothpaste on their toothbrush; setting out their clothes for them; a smiley face drawn on their water bottle. These little things take seconds to do but will pay big dividends with your SO. Then when you are together in the evening, don’t multitask as you share your day. Look each in the eye as you relay the day’s events to each other.
Another great idea is to have a quarterly meeting or ritual where you review your SO’s dreams or goals. Allow them to tell you how they are doing. Ask them how you can support them as they work towards their dreams or goals. Then share your dreams and goals with your SO and let them know how they can support you as well. Laura Hick, a therapist in Salt Lake City, said: “When your partner is the wind behind your sails, you not only feel supported but cherished, loved, appreciated, and validated in who you are as a person.” This helps build a strong, long-lasting foundation for a successful relationship.
While cruise control is a helpful feature for road trips, it is not a good place to be in a relationship. If you shift into cruise control, you become complacent about your SO and their needs. This can lead to stagnation and resentment. To ward off these problems, check in on the relationship on a monthly basis. Ask your SO, “How am I doing meeting your needs? What can I do better? What do you need more of? What should I stop doing?” Listen with an open mind and be willing to accept the feedback they give. Then take your turn and give the same feedback to your SO. Self-reflection and the willingness to be vulnerable will pay off big dividends in your relationship.
Create a relationship goal each year on a significant date. Think of it as a New Year’s Resolution. It could be on the anniversary of the day you met, the day you became a couple, your anniversary, etc. It should be based on something you want to work on as a couple. They don’t always have to be serious. Here is a partial list to consider:
- Do service together (not just around the holidays).
- Eat mindfully.
- Sweat together.
- Make sex a priority.
- Stop fighting over little things.
- Strive for emotional honesty.
- Stop multitasking with technology.
- Treat your partner as well as you treat your friends.
- Criticize less than you praise.
- Break a bad habit together.
- Play together.
- Practice active listening skills.
The reality is it is very easy to become lazy in love. NO one is to blame but ourselves if we let our relationships get too cozy, too comfortable that they become worn out and blah like a pair of old tatty slippers. Ask anyone currently looking for an SO and they will tell you to CHERISH what you have. Love is a verb. It requires constant action and nurturing, but it pays off in magical ways. If your relationship has grown a bit stagnant, start using these tips today to put your SO first in your life. Create space for and be intentional in the way you interact with your SO. No one should be more important in your life.