We could all learn a few things from a happily married couple.As much as we all want to believe that once we find our true love, we'll live out our lives in blissful happiness, reveling in that loving feeling forever, reality is not quite like that. We tend to think that love is something that happens to us, instead of something that comes from us. The truth is that successful relationships take energy, effort and attention from both partners.
This year, I'll be celebrating my tenth anniversary with my husband, and while that's certainly not a record-breaking accomplishment, there are a few things I've learned along the way regarding keeping a relationship healthy, or at least from falling apart at the seams. Here they are:
1. Touch him. As human beings we all crave being touched. It gives us that sense of being connected to others, that sense of bonding. I'm not necessarily talking about sexual touching, but things like simply touching his forearm when you're talking to him, running your fingers gently through his hair or rubbing his ears lightly when you kiss him goodbye. A little bit of touch goes a long way, and in these hurried modern times, we can all use more than we're getting. Read More: Hard Work Ahead: Are Relationships Really Worthwhile?
2. Compliment him. We're all naturally quick to point out our partner's flaws or things they did wrong or could do better, but why is it so hard to comment on what's great about him? Once we get used to each other, the great things become expected and taken for granted. Pick three things that he does really well, and the next time you see him doing one of them, give him a nice little compliment like, "You're so good at that, thank you for taking care of that for us." If you aim to give him one compliment every day it will begin to become natural and soon you'll find yourself doing it even more often. And you'll also find his annoying habits won't seem so bad.
3. Keep your dirty laundry in your house. If he's done something that really bothers you, and you feel the need to complain to your friends, co-workers, or your Mom, bite your tongue as hard as you can. Words spoken in one ear have a tendency to make it to other ears very quickly, and these people will think less of your guy long after you've gotten over it. Mom and Dad are particularly good at holding grudges against the guy that hurt their daughter. If you need to complain, write it down in a journal instead of voicing it, or if you absolutely have to voice it to someone, tell it to your therapist or a relationship coach.
4. Be a winning team. Look at life's ups and downs as something that you're both in together. If you work together as a team, always looking out for the other, you'll be able to handle whatever comes at you. Just as the various members of a team have different talents, you and your partner have unique talents, so put them to work together to create greatness. Read More: 6 Traits Men Find Absolutely Irresistible
5. Take him at face value. Know that he is what he is and also know that he's not going to change. Then love him for what he is. Instead of looking at his bad habits as annoying, look at them as quirky traits that make him such a loveable guy. Write down three things that you absolutely love about him on an index card and keep it in your pocket at all times. Any time he annoys you, pull out the card and read each to yourself; you won't be able to stay mad. (If you can't come up with three things that you love about him then dump him and move on. I mean, seriously.)
6. Be compassionate. When he's grouchy or snappy - particularly when it's directed at you - instead of getting defensive, feeling hurt, and pouting, snapping back or blaming, instead try to understand why he might be upset and where he's coming from. He's stressed about something, so find out what it is. Then let him know that you understand, remind him that you're a team (see number 4) and that you're here to help. And the great thing is he'll soon be doing the same for you. Read More: 6 Tips For A More Compassionate Relationship
7. Let go of having to be right. When arguing always be truly open to what your partner is saying and focus on listening and understanding his point of view before talking. Even if after listening and understanding you still absolutely believe that you're right, instead of arguing about it to the bitter end, practice looking at is as he has a different opinion than you do (note: don't actually say those words, it'll just make things worse. Simply think them and move on.)
8. Do one special thing for your partner every day. Try something that he would love you to do for him and something that's unexpected (if you normally do the laundry, that doesn't count.) Why one thing every day? Because this will get you thinking about your partner in a selfless manner. It will change the way you view him, will make you feel more loving towards him, will make him absolutely adore you, and best of all, you'll be happier. When you're thinking of things to do for him, remember that men feel loved when you do something for them ... particularly something that helps them out and lightens their load. Read More: How Do You Set Realistic Expectations In A Relationship?
9. Chill out. There will be a time where you're just absolutely ready to blow your top (or have already.) Instead of making things worse by screaming about the fact that he's acting just like his father, stop before the words come out, open the door and go outside to take a walk. Cool off and don't talk until you feel like you can do it calmly. And forget the old maxim, "Don't go to bed angry" - sometimes sleep just makes things better. You can patch things up over coffee.
Written by Jane Garapick for YourTango.com.
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