Love is in the air and romance is on the menu for February. If you are not feeling very romantic and choosing a Valentines activity seems more of a chore than a desire, then perhaps you need to take a deeper look at your relationship. Here are 5 useful relationship guidelines to start with. Build a strong foundation.
A relationship, just like a 10 story building needs a good foundation. Ask yourself: have you laid down a strong impenetrable foundation to build your relationship?
This happens naturally when you invest in the relationship and in your partner. Think about what you fell in love with in the first place and the reasons you are in your relationship. Does he or she make you feel like the most important and special person on the planet? Can you be 100% yourself warts and all? Small ongoing acts of love build a relationship and make your partner feel good about him or herself. Love is a selfless act and requires nothing in return. All our thoughts, words and actions should be selfless, requiring nothing in return but rather contributing to building your partner and relationship up positively.
TIP: Just like gratitude is proven to create happiness ' add intentional appreciation and affection into your relationship every day.
All relationships in life require good communication and all people need to be heard. Your voice and point of view is important and communication can be difficult when you are feeling hurt or abused. Find a way to communicate that is constructive and productive. The process of communicating is more important than the content. Use the facts, stick to the story and keep emotion out of it. Don't add fuel to the fire by bringing up old behaviour that can easily spiral the conversation into negativity. If you feel yourself getting upset or angry, take time out; take a deep breath, walk away and decide to carry the conversation on another day when you are calmer. Choose the right time to air a complaint, when you know your partner will take the feedback well. You have the ability to control your responses and how you lead the discussion forward. Take any feedback positively as an opportunity to improve yourself and work together to overcome any problems holding you and the relationship back.
TIP: Changing the way you say something can make such a difference to the response you get. Rather than saying 'You make me feel so inadequate', which has an air of accusation, invite a more understanding response from your partner by saying 'When you (fill in the blank), it makes me feel inadequate'.
Say you're sorry
The most important word in a relationship is 'sorry'. Whether you are right or wrong a relationship is between two people and both will benefit by being able to say sorry. Sorry is a brave word that for many people, is not easy to say. Both partners always have a part to play in any rift and there is always cause to take responsibility for your part. Even if your role is smaller or less significant in a rift, standing up and taking responsibility shows maturity and commitment towards sorting things out. Own your mistakes, take responsibility for them, and for the growth of the relationship.
TIP: Even if you feel totally in the right, you can still say 'I'm sorry we are going through such a difficult challenge' or 'I'm sorry you feel that way'.
Compromise is the key
Compromise is key to finding a balance in any relationship. All couples spend lots of time together and have lots of balls to juggle in their busy lives. Finding a middle ground so everyone wins is a big factor in keeping the balance. Do you give your time freely and work to find ways to come up with a good solution for daily conundrums? Take turns lifting the kids, her turn to walk the dog, his turn to do the shopping and together choose a new colour paint for the bathroom. Work together to find a system that benefits you both. If it's not working, then change the plan and find a new way of doing things together.
TIP: If there's a chore you absolutely hate doing and it's causing contention in the relationship, negotiate a swap. Come clean and admit you're never going to mop up the floor after your shower, but you're very happy to do the early morning school run to compensate.
Invest in time
Find time for your relationship. Like any new sport or hobby, it requires time and practice to get it right. Relationships are no different. Invest in your relationship and your partner by creating time to be together. Choose activities that you can both enjoy. Learn about each other intimately ' what he likes and doesn't like, what excites him, what he is passionate about. If you don't have much time together, make the time you do have count. Rather than filling it with trivial arguments ' skip the drama and focus on the positives you have together. Moments can be as important as big slugs of time and the small things do count. Make your partner a cup of tea in the morning, put a love note in somewhere strategic. Surprise him or her with lunch at the office. Buy a book they've expressed interest in. Kiss your partner hello and goodbye.
TIP: Have at least one regular time slot a week where you schedule breakfast together or a walk or something similar.
The things in life that are worth having, require focus and dedication. Investing in your relationship will make it flourish. Nurture your partner at the same time as working on your own responses and behaviour. Be aware daily how you contribute to the relationship. Grow your relationship. It will blossom when filled with love and good intention. Make one change at a time. The love you receive back will be worth every minute invested. Be bold and decide to have an amazing relationship. You can do it.
DID YOU KNOW? Expressing gratitude towards people you love causes an immediate spike in your happiness
'If I know what love is, it is because of you' - Herman Hesse
'Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies' ' Aristotle
'Love is a gift of one's inner most soul to another so both can be whole' ' Buddha
Love is patient, love is kind.
Love is not jealous, is not proud, is not conceited and does not act foolishly.
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