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Advise for improving your relationship

Updated on July 6, 2007

dating advice

You've been dating for a while, and everything in your relationship is perfect.

Well, everything but the way he still talks to his ex. Everything but the way she stays out late with her female friends on the night you told her you wanted to prepare a special dinner for just the two of you. Everything is great except the way that you always have to nag to get the trash taken out.

You don't want the relationship to end - none of your problems are insurmountable. But all of them together - well, the problems seem to be adding up quickly and you need to take some action and get them under control before your perfect relationship is over.

Here are some points to consider that will help you work things out.

Talk with your partner openly and honestly. Sounds simple, doesn't it? But not everyone does it. More often than not, frustrations get bottled up. Little problems become relationship destroyers, and its because early on, someone chose to not bring it up. Even if you didn't mention it the first time he didn't rinse out the sink after he shaved, maybe you should mention it the second time. If you don't, you will end up blind siding him with it months later and a much bigger battle will begin.

Make the relationship a priority above getting what you want. You aren't the only one in the relationship and you won't always be the one who gets every need met. If you put your own needs ahead of the needs of your relationship, there are going to be problems. When each of you considers the relationship as an entity with needs, compromise will come easily.

Take responsiblity for your own feelings. Though you may mean " I feel really disregarded when you don't help out with your dishes," its possible that what came out was " how could you do that to me?'' Your emotions and your reactions are yours. In most cases, they will have be triggered by something or another. But they are yours, and it is your responsibility to acknowledge that you have a role. Don't take your anger with your boss out on your partner because she didn't make the bed: be open about what's really going on.

Only change for yourself/Accept the other person as they are. Are you unhappy with the way you ( fill in the blank here )? If so, changing your behaviour makes sense. But if you're completely content with whom you are, don't change for your partner who thinks your laugh is too loud. Likewise, don't ask anyone else to change the characteristics that aren't upsetting to them.

Be yourself. Just like you shouldn't change who you are for the sake of making someone else happy, you should not try to be someone you are not just because someone likes that person better. You cannot be happy when you aren't being yourself. And if someone doesn't like you for you, its probably time to move on.

Know the intentions behind your words. Words are funny things - they can be sharper than daggers or as calming as an ocean tide. Sometimes, the same words can be used at both ends of the spectrum. That is why you need to be careful with why you are saying the things you say. If you want to ask your partner to take you out to dinner, don't ask by saying " you never take me out anymore, did you stop loving me?'' Its far more practical to ask for what you want or need than to coerce the other person using guilt tactics.

Communicate your wants and needs. Sometimes we want others to be able to read us and just fill our needs. Most of the time, that's just not possible. If you want or need something from your partner, talk to them - its the best way to be sure that your wants and needs are being heard.

Let go of judgement. If you do not know why your partner acted in a certain way, don't assume that you can figure it out on your own. Rather than assuming that it was a stupid mistake, ask why that choice was made. Sometimes you might be surprised - there may be circumsatnces you haven't thought about that make it the best chocie to have made.

Let go of the word should. Should is a word of expectations. Should is a word that says," I don't want this but everyone else thinks that's nuts." Should is a word that says " Im exhausted but everyone else will be upset if I don't go to the movie". Should is a word that doesn't recognize who you are and how you feel. Should is a judgment of yourself. And it's unfair to you and everyone involved.

Don't try to exert control over the other person. You don't want anyone to tell you what to do: why would someone else want you to determine when they'll eat or what they should wear? The only person that you can control is yourself. Chances are good that, when you need to atke control of someone else, you are feeling as though something isn't going well for you. Rather than taking that out on someone else, work to figure it out, and make a change for yourself.

Express your appreciation and gratitude opnely and honestly. Whether your partner sent flowers to your office after he knew you'd had a rough meeting or whether he just said something that made you laugh, he brightened your day. But how often do you let him know that? Sometimes the best thing that we can do for our relationships is to say thank you when we mean it, or to do something - however small - to let that person know you care. Take the time to really pamper each other as needed.

By focusing on the positive changes that are relatively easy to make, your relationship will continue to be strong. And the stronger that you can make the foundation of your realtionship, the more joy that it will bring to you.

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