Spoiler Alert – there’s no ‘perfect relationship! But even if perfection is only a fleeting illusion, there is no reason why you don’t deserve a long and happy relationship.
I’ve been in relationships long enough to know some of the secrets that can make or break relationships. But along with personal experiences, I’ll be relying on some more science-backed studies to shed some light on how you can avoid relationship burnout and free yourself from the frustrating ‘grass is greener’ trap. Leggo!
1. Practicing Healthy Arguments to Avoid Needless Conflicts
It’s perfectly normal for two partners to disagree.
And yes, even the happiest of couples fight on occasions – including the cute ones you see matching rocking outfits on Instagram making you dream about your ‘couple goals.’
Author of “Joy From Fear,” relationship expert and clinical psychologist, Dr. Carla Manly touched on how often partners seem to argue every day – an average of at least seven arguments per day. Healthy relationships are not devoid of arguments. The partners just argue in a healthy way that helps them defuse conflicts and tensions easily.
So, it turns out that how often you argue doesn’t really matter as much as how you actually argue. It always pays to argue fairly. This means expressing yourself in a healthy way that does not come across as defensive or offensive so it doesn’t get the other person rattled.
Arguments and fights are normal. However, avoiding the urge to hit below the belt is a simple but powerful secret that can help avoid toxic arguments and unnecessary conflicts.
2. Creating More/New Shared Experiences
They say that relationships are more like a story.
To keep the story fresh and exciting, there need to be chapters after chapters with new plots. For many relationships that are already very long, this challenge is a big one.
Partners often feel bored after following a familiar routine for too long.
If all you’ve been doing the whole time is to just wake up, eat, go to work, come back, eat, watch TV, sleep, and repeat, chances are you might start feeling bored or stagnant after some time. To avoid this boredom-induced relationship burnout, you’ll want to keep things as fresh, stimulating, and exciting as possible. The best way to do this is not to keep reliving old and familiar experiences but rather to create new ones.
Wellness startup, Happify researched the science behind a happy relationship. The study revealed that partners who are always trying out new things together tend to feel more loving and supportive. Furthermore, the study revealed they also tend to feel more satisfied with their relationships.
3. More Conversations and Better Communication
You should understand that good communication is the foundation of every good relationship. Communication is like the lifeline of every relationship.
It’s how you easily let the other person know your thoughts and opinions without fights and arguments. Communication is so important it almost feels like oxygen to a human being. Your relationship needs it to stay flourishing. And without it, the chances of keeping it happy and worthwhile are almost zero.
Here are a few tips to help;
- Never be afraid to let your partner know how you feel.
- Avoid being defensive during arguments.
- Avoid communication barriers to pave way for open and honest conversations.
- Study your partner’s communication preferences as well as yours so you can figure out what works best for both of you.
- Look out for the words that are not said by studying the emotions behind the words being said. Chances are you’ll be attuned to their emotions and feelings after some time. Look out for clues that could give away bottled-up emotions. These could include the tone of voice, body language, and appearance indicating diverse feelings such as stress, joyfulness, sadness, etc.
4. Not Being Too Critical of Your Partner
Criticism is often very toxic and is one of the poisons that can easily tear any relationship apart. If you’re overly critical of your partner, always complaining about everything and never complimenting them about anything, you risk eroding their positive vibes with negativity.
Truth is; you’re not going to like everything about your partner.
But criticizing them at every opportunity you get isn’t going to make them change either. Excessive criticism has been identified as one of the major predictors of divorce. But according to Psych Central, it can also wreak havoc in relationships outside of marriage.
It’s always better to communicate your feelings and opinions calmly and constructively when you need to express yourself to your partner rather than lashing out at them.
Relationship therapists, Drs. John and Julie Gottman identified criticisms, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling as the four horsemen that could lead to the death of any relationship – and they’re right.
We can all agree that “Stop piling up your dirty dishes in the sink, you inconsiderate slob” hits differently from “Can you help me out with the dishes in the sink so I don’t feel too overwhelmed before I make dinner?”
Obviously, the difference is in how the feelings are worded.
5. Increased Intimacy (Sexual, Emotional, And More!)
Intimacy improves bonding. Between two people in a relationship, it can help strengthen closeness, love, care, trust, and affection, among other things.
While we agree that people and their needs vary and that building a healthy relationship does not start and end with sexual intimacy, there are a lot of benefits in this that could make it worthy of your time and attention if you’re trying to strengthen your relationship.
According to healthline, sexual intimacy benefits include;
- Intense fun and pleasure.
- Strengthened bond with your partner.
- Greater sense of security in your relationship (especially when it happens frequently).
- Opportunity to show your partner love and affection, etc.
So, aside from procreation, sex is not overrated as some people like to say. But sex is actually not the only way to build intimacy with your partner. Kisses, cuddling, massages, and simply holding hands, among other things, can help build physical intimacy.
6. Understand That Feelings and Emotions Evolve Over Time
Finally, it helps to know that you, as well as your partner, are not going to always feel ‘crazy in love’ forever or at every other time.
Romantic relationships tend to evolve with time.
So, it’s normal if after some time you go from a passionately crazy lustful phase to a more stable companionate phase. The truth is relationships don’t stay the same, regardless of how happy the partners seem.
Understanding this secret makes it easier to know what to expect which in turn makes it easy to flow with the different phases of a relationship.
Like psychologist Alexandra Solomon rightly said, “a big part of the work of loving and being loved is making peace with the inevitability of change.” This understanding is important to help you achieve self-awareness in your relationship. It’s also important to help you avoid being perpetually caught in the grass is greener trap.
As it turns out, building a happy relationship for the long haul requires more work than most of us are often ready to put in. But the challenge is always much easier when you know what to improve and what to avoid. And the rewards – oh so sweet!
All six tips above will help keep your relationship healthy enough to stand the test of time – without being boring. Somewhere between arguing fairly and healthy, avoiding harsh criticisms, living out new shared experiences, greater openness and communication, increased intimacy, and the knowledge that relationships evolve over time, you’re bound to find happiness and peace of mind with your significant other.