Maintaining a Relationship: Top Tips
Children, jobs and other interests will come and go, don't let you and your other half become strangers in the meantime.
My mother-in-law gave me this piece of advice when we first got married. This year we have been married for almost 30 years and my in-laws have been married for 65 years.
Making time for one another in a relationship
Life can get busy, particularly if you have children, and/or a demanding career. Unless you make a conscious effort to spend time together, you may find that you eventually become strangers.
It’s good relationship advice and just makes good sense.
Getting together is often the easy part, staying together can be more difficult.
Make Time for One Another. Even for just one evening a week...
and even if you have children and can't afford a babysitter. I've eaten dinner with a fork in one hand and the handle of the baby buggy in the other, rocking baby to sleep. It's better than focusing all attention on baby.
Too late to improve a relationship?
Even if you’ve already been in a relationship together for many years, it’s never too late to start making time for one another.
Choose one evening in the week when you’re both likely to be relaxed.
- Go out for a meal,
- Or order a take-away,
- Or if one or both of you like cooking, make a special meal. Sit down together and enjoy the food.
- Catch up on the week while you eat.
If you have children and don’t have the money to hire a babysitter, then if possible feed them and get them to bed a little earlier (for the very young) or allow them to watch a movie or play a video game (quietly) or engage in some activity that they are not normally allowed to do.
You know your children best-it’s worth putting a little effort into finding something that will keep them happy and occupied for a couple of hours before bedtime.
Make it a condition of the treat that they do not disturb you, except in an emergency.
It goes without saying that you still keep them within hearing distance and check on them regularly.
When our children were babies we’d often pay a teenage family member to entertain them for the couple of hours in another room close by.
When they grew older a movie and a meal of their choice (within reason of course) and some home made popcorn for afters worked wonders for us at the weekend. (They were restricted in their television viewing during school days, so this was a treat).
They grew up knowing that Saturday night was mum and dad’s night, and they still respect that space.
It may be a cliché but it really IS all about give and take.
You can't have everything the way YOU want it all the time within a relationship. Neither does it work if you give in all the time.
When a disagreement is over, it 's over!
How to work at your relationship
Of course a relationship is not just about spending time and having a meal together once a week.
- It’s also about sometimes saying “yes” when you want to say “no”.
- It’s about sometimes not saying anything at all.
- It’s about keeping your sense of perspective and your sense of humor.
- It’s about allowing the other to change their mind without saying things like “But you said…” or “I told you so…”
- It’s about trust and support.
- it’s about talking.
- it’s about listening.
- It’s about laughing together and having fun.
And neither is it all fun and games and warm fuzzy feelings.
But if you can sometimes manage to bite back your anger or irritation and keep your remarks to a time when you’re both calmer, then you can significantly reduce the number of disagreements.
And, when disagreements do occur, remember, when it’s over, it’s over.
Once apologies have been made and accepted, verbally or otherwise, then let-it-go.
Avoid the temptation to indulge in nit picking and one-up-man-ship. It may feel satisfying at the time, but is very corrosive to a relationship.
If your relationship is flagging a little...
If you’ve reached a point where there are more disagreements than laughs, think about why you came together in the first place. Get out the photo albums, play your favorite music from that time, maybe go to your favorite restaurant (if it’s still there), reminisce together.
Focus on the good points
Stay away from blame: Don’t get into…Why don’t you do this anymore?” or “You never do that now” Don’t focus on the faults and irritating habits. Focus instead on the good points.
Finding the positive in a relationship
Here’s a good exercise to try when you’re alone:
- Sit in a comfortable position and relax. Close your eyes if it feels comfortable to do so.
- Now, think of just one positive thing about your partner. It can be something as simple as the colour of their eyes, or their taste in clothes, or maybe they have a good sense of humour, or a nice smile. Anything at all, just so long as it’s positive.
- When you’ve found that one thing, think of another. Notice how much easier it is this time. Can you find a third? It’s a bit like chipping paint, isn’t it? Once you get a start, it becomes easier.
- Make a habit of finding positive things everyday, and soon you may find you no longer notice the negative things.
I understand that all of this is very simple, and maybe you feel that your problems are too complicated for such an easy solution. But give it a proper try, you have nothing to lose and you may be surprised.
If your relationship is in trouble
...if you still feel that your relationship is in trouble, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
There are plenty of professional people and agencies available.
Friends and family can also help, but they may not be as impartial as a professional person.
But if it hasn't come to that, perhaps the tips will help to make sure it never does.
So remember, spend time together, focus on the positive and keep in mind why you got together in the first place.
It's not a panacea, but it may help a little.