I adore being married.
Soppy I know.
I’ve been with my lovely bloke for 26 years and married for 21 and it’s great.
That’s not to say it’s always been great.
We’ve had our fair share of disagreements and bumps in the road. We’ve experienced the death of close relatives, been on the breadline and dealt with the stress that comes with raising three kids.
But it’s not all been bad either and we survived…
So here are my top four tips for making your most important relationships work. (*Feel free to adapt them for a partner, girlfriend, best friend etc)
And I’m not talking where you are and what you’re doing – that’s what calendars were invented for.
I’m talking about talking.
Proper grown up conversations. It’s about letting each other know how you feel about decisions, exploring disagreements, being able to say “I need some time alone right now” or “I need to be around you more”. It’s about sharing your dreams for the future, your career plans, what values you want to teach your children. It’s about sorting out issues calmly and before they become arguments. It’s about having your needs met. It’s about still being you, whilst being part of a couple too.
Treat them like you did when you first hooked up
Sounds weird eh? But think back to the early days – the days when you made an effort. You may have left them little notes, bought their favourite treats, spent time getting to know what makes them tick.
Life gets in the way. Fact.
And before you know where you are, you’re only crossing paths on the way to football practise, already in your pyjamas by the time your loved one comes home and date night is something you vaguely remember.
Make a little effort here and there. It’s not about spending money, it’s about making them feel like they are still important to you. Bring them coffee in bed at the weekend, text them randomly to tell them they are appreciated, remind them you value them, listen more and talk less. I’m not saying neglect yourself and always put them first – I’m just saying make them feel special when you can.
Again, a bit contradictory – spending time alone helps your relationships?
In my experience it does.
You don’t need to give up your hobbies, friends and space just because you are with someone. There are bound to be things that you love to do that your partner doesn’t. One of you will usually concede if you have different ideas and that needs to happen sometimes. However, you should carve out a little space every now and then for you time. My hubby works shifts and I take full advantage of it – an early night here, a full day of retail therapy there. You get the idea. Don’t get me wrong, I could still do these things when he’s around, but if I do these things when he’s not, it frees up time for us to do something we both enjoy, together.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Bit of a cliché, I know – but putting things into perspective is incredibly healthy when you’re in a relationship.
Pick your battles.
Do you really need to nag them every time they forget to do something or disagree with them in public? It’s hard to be around negative people and moan for long enough and eventually they will stop listening. Think of the worse case scenario – is what you’re going through really that bad?
Practise a little gratitude. Make plans to improve (we always had a 5 year plan to get ourselves out of less than ideal situations). Don’t compare yourselves to other couples – relationships that seem perfect may not always be so. Spend your energy looking for the positives and making memories. Keep your humour and never, ever go to bed on an argument.
These tips have evolved over the years through trial and error and are things we strive to do most of the time. They work for us.
Where in your relationships do you put your energy? Which parts could do with a little tweaking to make fabulous? Think of one thing you could do differently to make your loved one smile.
Everyone’s situation is unique and it’s about finding the perfect formula that works for you both.