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Relationships are on the rocks these days. Many couples face new challenges that didn’t exist twenty years ago such as both partners having to work or the constant interruptions from social media. Couples often find difficulty balancing time between work and their significant other or family. Technology such as social media may cause problems with communication, fidelity and mental well-being with apps such as Facebook and Tinder readily available. However, regardless of why relationships seem to be more difficult today than they did in the past, the rules of a successful relationship have always remained the same.
1. Open Communication
Many relationship experts say that communication is the number one indicator of a successful relationship. Dr. John Gottman, who is a top researcher in relationships, found that contempt is the number one reason for divorce. Contempt is when one partner decides that the other is not worthy of hearing out. That their opinions, needs or wants are not important thus removing open and honest communication with the other partner. Contempt is often played out by attacking the partner with criticism and negativity instead of hearing them out and making an honest attempt to understand them.
How To Communicate Better
- Realize that your partner cannot read your mind. If you keep issues pent up inside hoping that your partner will ‘guess’ what’s wrong, you may end up becoming resentful. Stop focusing on festering in the emotion and focus on communicating the issue to relieve the emotion.
- Talk it out with an empathetic and positive tone of voice. Bring up the issue to your partner without attacking them, but rather talk about it with a ‘solution in mind’. Having a solution in mind means that you are focused on improving the situation and have a positive mindset. Communication is about SOLVING not further complicating.
- Actively listen to your partner’s response. Regardless of who’s to blame for the issue at hand, you must be able to listen to your partners perspective. Only when you are both able to understand each other’s position can you begin to resolve the issue.
- Avoid ‘fighting tactics’. Don’t call your partner names or use ’emotional’ criticisms or blackmail to get your points across. Don’t make empty threats so your partner will cave into your needs. Realize that manipulating or playing games with your partner does nothing except erode trust, respect and provide no real solutions.
- Take a break from the conversation. If emotions are running high and addressing the issue with a ‘solution in mind’ approach is not possible, take a break and discuss the issue later. When you tell your partner you need some time to think about it, make sure that you calmly let them know you want to continue the discussion later and this is not you bailing on the issue.
2. Positivity, Support, and Conscientiousness
Couples who support each other’s goals in life report greater levels of happiness. This type of support means that if your partner works at a law firm, and you find law ‘absolutely boring,’ it’s still imperative that you still support your partner’s ambition with regular positive feedback and support. If your partner just won a ‘massive case’ and you react with indifference and boredom, it will make your partner feel unappreciated. Instead, realize that your partner cares deeply about their work and if you care about them then you will care about what they care about. Happy couples make it a priority to praise their partners on their successes whether they find it personally interesting or not.
In addition to supporting your partner’s goals, it’s also important to be supportive to your partner’s failures. Everyone in life, no matter how great, will have regularly down periods across the span of their lifetime. Difficulties such as losing a job, going through a bout of depression or even something more serious such as substance abuse. Strong couples know how to soothe the wounds of life that their partners will experience. This approach means listening to your partner vent, giving them words of encouragement and offering to pick up extra duties to help. True support is looking at your relationship as a team in which you work together to overcome obstacles in the world.
3. An Active Sex Life
Sex is incredibly important to a healthy relationship. If you don’t believe that’s true, then check out a section called ‘deadbedrooms‘ on the popular website Reddit. If the anecdotal evidence isn’t enough for you, a recent study showed that couples of have sex at least once a week reported significantly higher levels of happiness than couples who do not. Although this information is not surprising, many couples find themselves in a ‘dead bedroom’ situation without any luck bringing it back to life. To bring a ‘dead bedroom’ back to life, both partners need to agree at least that sex is a major factor.
Tips To Keep Your Sex Life Alive
Acknowledge The Importance Of Sex: You need to agree that sex is important before there can be any real effort to restore or maintain intimacy. If your partner is recently ‘asexual’ and has no interest what-so-ever in sex, then restoring a sex life may be more difficult.
Embody Sexuality: Start acting more sexual. Dress better, start exercising, flirt like you did in the beginning. Create fun by going out and getting you and your partner’s blood pumping with new and exciting activities.
Find Out What Turns Your Partner On: Ask your partner their fantasies and how you can fulfill them together. Sex should be fun, pleasurable and bonding.
Sex Isn’t A Chore No Matter How You View It: Often times in relationships people think of sex as a ‘chore’. Usually, these are marriages that have stemmed at least a decade or two. Sex is never a chore. Even if you are ‘not in the mood’, sex is merely bonding with your partner. It’s also important to look at the selfless side of sex and realize that you are helping to fulfill your partner.
Successful couples make an effort to share responsibilities instead of complaining about them. Sharing responsibilities means working on finances, child-rearing, vacation planning, cooking and everything in between. It’s a real companion based team-effort in which both partners realize that the success of one is the success of the other. If your finances are good, then their finances are good. If you are on a great vacation, then they are also on a great vacation.
The goal should always be for a win-win situation because a win-lose situation means that you’re both losing. The moment that you look at your relationship as a ‘you vs them’ situation, then you are no longer companions and instead adversaries. A relationship of opponents always ends in one way – destroyed and lifeless.
5. Start The Change
Many people who are reading this article might be saying, “This all sounds great, but my partner won’t ever follow these rules!” If you want your partner to treat you better, you have to lead by example, and it’s often the only way. Start by initiating each of the above rules without expecting your partner to reciprocate right away. After time your ‘change’ will hopefully rub off on your partner. Or at least, you can bring up the changes you have made and ask if your partner would like to be a part of those changes.
It’s important to remember that if you have problems in your relationship at the moment, most of these problems CAN be solved and worked out. It only requires patience, understanding, self-awareness, and gratitude for having someone who loves you.