7 Ways to Improve Your Relationship
Good relationships don’t just happen. I’ve heard many of my clients state that “If I have to work at it, then it’s not the right relationship.” This is not a true statement, any more than it’s true that you don’t have to work at good physical health through exercise, eating well, and stress reduction.
I’ve discovered, in the 35 years that I’ve been counseling couples, seven choices you can make that will not only improve your relationship but can turn a failing relationship into a successful one.
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELF
This is the most important choice you can make to improve your relationship. This means that you learn how to take responsibility for your feelings and needs. This means that instead of trying to get your partner to make you feel happy and secure, you learn how to do this for yourself through your thoughts and actions.Self-judgment will always make you feel unhappy and insecure, no matter how wonderfully your partner is treating you.
When you learn how to take full, 100% responsibility for yourself, then you stop blaming your partner for your upsets. Since blaming one’s partner for one’s unhappiness is the number one cause of relationship problems, learning how to take loving care of yourself is vital to a good relationship.
KINDNESS, COMPASSION, ACCEPTANCE
Treat others the way you want to be treated. This is the essence of true spiritual life. We all yearn to be treated lovingly – with kindness, compassion, understanding, and acceptance. We need to treat ourselves this way, and we need to treat our partner and others this way. Relationships flourish when both people treat each other with kindness. While there are no guarantees, often treating another with kindness brings kindness in return. If your partner is consistently angry, judgmental, uncaring and unkind, then you need to focus on what would be loving to yourself rather than reverting to anger, blame, judgment, withdrawal, resistance, or compliance.
LEARNING INSTEAD OF CONTROLLING
When conflict occurs, you always have two choices regarding how to handle the conflict: you can open to learning about yourself and your partner and discover the deeper issues of the conflict, or you can try to win, or at least not lose, through some form of controlling behavior. We’ve all learning many overt and subtle ways of trying to control others into behaving the way we want: anger, blame, judgment, niceness, compliance, care taking, resistance, withdrawal of love, explaining, teaching, defending, lying, denying, and so on. All the ways we try to control creates more conflict. Remembering to learn instead of control is a vital part of improving your relationship.
CREATE DATE TIMES
When people first fall in love, they make time for each other. Then, especially after getting married, they get busy. Relationships need time to thrive. It is vitally important to set aside specific times to be together – to talk, play, make love. Intimacy cannot be maintained without time together.
GRATITUDE INSTEAD OF COMPLAINTS
Positive energy flows between two people when there is an “attitude of gratitude.” Constant complaints create heavy, negative energy, which is not fun to be around. Practice being grateful for what you have rather than focusing on what you don’t have. Complaints create stress, while gratitude creates inner peace, so gratitude creates not only emotional and relationship health, but physical health as well.
FUN AND PLAY
We all know that “work without play makes Jack a dull boy.” Work without play makes for dull relationships as well. Relationships flourish when people laugh together, play together, and when humor is a part of everyday life. Stop taking everything so seriously and learn to see the funny side of life. Intimacy flourishes when there is a lightness of being, not when everything is heavy.
An excellent way of creating intimacy is to do service projects together. Giving to others fills the heart and creates deep satisfaction in the soul. Doing service moves you out of yourself and your problems and supports a broader, more spiritual view of life.
If you and your partner agree to these seven choices, you will be amazed at the improvement in your relationship!