We live in a fast-paced world where everything gets thrown away. From disposable nappies to larger kitchen appliances (it’s cheaper to get a new TV than fix the old one), few things are built to last these days. That attitude has filtered down to the dating world and the world of love – apps like Tinder have made it all too easy to say “next!” if something isn’t working.
So how do we stay together and stay happy?
It’s pretty simple.
1. Your first rule should be to treat your relationship as a “devoted friendship”.
Often we get more critical with our partners and speak to them in a way we would never speak to our friends, perhaps being sarcastic or belittling. No matter how difficult the content of what you have to say may be, talk to your partner as you would a friend – with kindness and respect.
2. Criticism is poisonous to a relationship and leads to distance, not loving connection. Name the behaviour, not the person. Say, “I’m angry you forgot to call me”, rather than “You are such a selfish idiot, you never call me!” See the difference?
3. Show the whites of your eyes – if you’ve got something to discuss (positive or negative), pay attention to each other. Phones on silent, no kids, look at each other. It’s amazing how many couples forget to look at each other, and over time this can really cause a disconnect. Couples that spend even 5-10 minutes a day talking to each other have a stronger relationship and a better chance at longevity.
4. Reflect on what brought you together – thinking back to when you first met and the ways you tried to impress each other, doing nice things for each other, saying compliments and appreciating each other can be a good way of reminding yourself why you’re with this person, and hold you together through the tough times.
5. Look for the good – if your partner does something to make you happy, notice it and thank them. Be loving back. If they get it wrong, let them know, and give them some tips on how to do it better in the future. No one is a mind-reader!
6. The little moments – even if you’re both time-poor, small moments together can keep the connection strong. People often make the mistake of waiting until they go on holiday or have a romantic date-night booked for the intimacy fires to be stoked, but doing small things often means there’s always a loving glow between you. This means gestures of affection, deep conversation, buying a small gift, saying “I love you”, doing something you know your partner loves.
You can think of your relationship as like a bank account that works best on smaller deposits often, rather than running dry most of the time and waiting for a periodic lump sum.
7. Most of all remember this – you are in this together, you are a team and you are on each other’s side. If it doesn’t feel like that, then brainstorm together about how you can better support each other, work together and have a shared vision for more fun, more love and more happiness!