I’ve been dating and living with my boyfriend for over three years now. I’m only in my early twenties yet sometimes I feel like I’m married. Like many couples, we rushed into living together without weighing out the pros and cons. Although I’m in a happy and healthy relationship, there is always room for growth. Here are a few helpful tips to improve your relationship, based on my personal experience.
Spend Time Alone
If your relationship gets to a point where it feels like there’s no getting through to your partner and all you do is bicker, this might be a sign that you both need some time apart. As I’ve noted in the past, living with your partner before marriage is HARD. It can be very challenging to balance out your relationship, work life, and personal freedom. But having time for yourself is crucial. Solitude should be encouraged in your relationship. It’s also important to understand that our needs direct us to grow in ways we were meant to.
Don’t avoid conflict
Most of us hate confrontation. Let’s face it, it’s awkward as hell. But conflict is a central part of our lives. Rather than trying to run or escape conflict as it rises, you should learn to deal with it in a mature way. Doing so requires cooperation, compassion, and a certain level of maturity.
If something is bothering you, avoiding the issue is not the answer. Avoidance creates unwanted tension, anxiety, and never solves anything. If a friend, partner, or a family member has done something you don’t like, you confront them sooner than later. Otherwise, nothing will change.
Put yourself in your partner’s shoes
Often times, two people in the relationship want different things. This is common in every relationship, no matter how you love someone you’re not always going to agree. But in order to reach a solution, we have to be willing to look beyond our own selfish needs and meet halfway. To put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and let go of our ego so that we can work through each of our problems.
Be honest and compassionate
Nobody can read your mind, not even the people who know us inside and out. Whenever you feel the need to confront someone, remember to communicate with sincerity. They probably don’t even know a problem exists. Therefore, you never want to address a problem in an aggressive or uncaring tone. Always be honest but gentle about what’s bothering you.
Be mindful of other
We are naturally selfish beings and we tend to put our needs above someone else’s. This is not a healthy mindset to have before starting a conversation. Try removing your ego, and putting yourself in their shoes. When we apply mindfulness into our relationships, we can have healthy dialogue without judging or blaming others. It also diminishes the idea of right or wrong and brings us closer to resolving the problem in a thoughtful and mature way.
Relax your mind
Whenever we feel betrayed, angry, or sad about something we immediately jump to conclusions. When we’re driven by anger or negativity, it blinds us from seeing the alternative.
When we act out of pain instead of love, it causes us to say things we don’t necessarily mean. It’s better to wait to address a problem with a peaceful mind.
Don’t do something at the heat of the moment, because you might regret it later on. Before lashing out on someone or acting out of rage, try relaxing your mind and focus on your breathing. Give yourself a moment to calm down, so that you can address things with a clear mind.
A few ways to calm down: drinking hot tea, meditating, going for a walk, speaking to a friend.
Identify the problem
For any relationship to work, both individuals need to be on the same page. Communication should be two-ways and requires honest feedback and active listening. Both of you need to communicate your feelings because there might be something you’ve done that’s bothering them. As a result, this will help understand what steps to take to improve the relationship as well.
Remember there is no right or wrong, and things are never black and white. Life is complicated and people make mistakes. If you love someone, give them the benefit of your doubt. You shouldn’t ruin a good thing, without trying to repair what’s broken. Both of you need to find a way to put your differences aside and come together to reach a common goal. In the end, all you can do is try. The rest is up to them.
“To free ourselves from our neurotic ego is ultimately to accept the conditions of existence and to see ourselves not as victims or opponents of the givens of reality, but as adults who face up to them honestly.”(Richo, David).