Let’s face it: relationships are difficult sometimes. Some of you may argue they are difficult all the time. (Hopefully this list will help reduce the amount of time you think they are hard!) Life with another person is bound to have its ups and downs, good times and bad times, pros and cons. We are no longer fully our “own island,” and we’re forced to make adjustments to our lives that maybe we didn’t foresee when we first thought to ourselves, “Hmmm…She/he is CUTE!!!”
Just like staying healthy and in-shape, there is no magic pill to make everything 100% peachy 24/7. Even the best of relationships have their rough patches, and it’s a safe bet to say that most of us have had a relationship fail when we didn’t expect it to. All this said, there are things we can do to help keep our relationships running top-notch with maybe only an occasional rough few days here and there. Sometimes the best advice is to take no advice, while sometimes a little advice now and then goes a long way. If you are feeling like some advice would help you right now, here are 25 Tips To Help Your Relationships Run Smoother.
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Know and respect yourself
Don’t let this tip become cliche; it’s vital. Before you can truly know what you want in a partner, you need know who you are as a person. Knowing who you are and what your values, dreams, and interests are will help you not waste your time or someone else’s on a relationship that won’t work.
Compromise and Sacrifice
There’s no possible way to make it through a relationship without having to sacrifice or give up something. Relationships are a give and take venture, and a relationship where only one person got their way would be artificial and boring. Just make sure that what you are sacrificing is not your values or who you are. That would be just as artificial as well as damaging.
Know that even the best relationships have bad times.
It’s bound to happen at some point. There may be days, months, or years that are not the best. If you want that person to journey through life with you, and you feel they are worth it, stick with it even through the rocky times. Not all is lost when you have a bad day.
For what it’s worth, that happy couple on your social media page has rough days/months/years, too. We can promise you.
Your relationship is not a competition; don't keep score.
When you’re in a relationship, you’re supposed to be a team. If that team is fighting against itself, there will be no major wins or successes and a lot of tears and frustration. Both you and your significant other have strengths and weaknesses; use those to your advantage to accomplish great things instead of nit-picking over who does what and how often.
The only exception is when you’re playing against each other during family or friend game night. Then it’s game on!
Don't forget who you are as an individual.
Not to contradict the previous point, you were someone as a special individual before you were someone as part of a special couple. While your partner should enrich your life and make your day brighter, you should be comfortable in your own skin without your other half. No one can complete you despite what Hollywood tells you, and you can’t complete another person.
Keep relatives and friends out of your relationship.
There is a saying, “Air your dirty laundry at home.” It’s not your friend’s or parent’s relationship. They don’t have to live with your significant other. Don’t give them permission to have a voice in how that relationship plays out. This can be difficult to do especially if you are close to one of your parents or have a best friend. However, because they are your parent or your friend, they will have a difficult time being unbiased or objective when you have relationship issues. When you finally do solve your issues with your partner, they might not get over it as easily as you do.
Do kind things for each other.
This should really go without saying. We usually don’t forget this when we first start dating, but we quickly do after a few years go by. By doing kind things for each other with no ulterior motive in mind, we remind ourselves and our partner a little bit about why we fell in love in the first place.
Keep past relationships out of your current one.
It’s true that what happened in the past shapes who we are today. It’s also true that past relationships can leave us to be a little distrusting or broken. Despite all of this, it’s important to allow yourself time to heal enough to not make your current significant other pay for the mistakes of others.
Don't use sex as a weapon.
Sex is something to be enjoyed. In the context of a committed relationship, it’s a testament to your love and connection. If you start wielding it as a powerful tool, it loses its value to connect you with the other person, and they might even start resenting you for it.
Have date nights
Marriage or any other form of commitment doesn’t take away the fact that we all want to be given attention. Let’s face it; after the years go by, it’s easy to lose focus of each other and only pay attention to the bills that need to get paid and the work that needs to get done inside and outside the home. Taking some time to remember that your partner is actually your lover (or was at one point) will help you remember that it’s not just about the kids and the mortgage. You are not just a parent, and you are not living for your mortgage. There was a reason once why you decided to attach your life to that person; date nights help you not to forget it.
Don't make someone else responsible for your feelings.
It’s true that you are partners with your significant other. That doesn’t mean that they are responsible for maintaining your happiness. This is part of the reason it’s important to be happy with yourself, by yourself before being in a relationship. It’s not your partner’s job to make you happy. Hopefully they add significantly to your happiness, but they shouldn’t be the only source of it.
Don't make yourself responsible for someone else's feelings.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t care about your partner’s feelings. It means, at least in part, that you don’t lie about your feelings for the sake of not wanting to hurt theirs. Being dishonest or withholding the truth to control the emotional environment dishonors yourself while also not respecting your partner enough to think they can handle honesty.
Be honest, even if it's brutal
If there’s something you need to say, say it. This is true even if you know the other person won’t necessarily like what you have to say. It’s best to say what’s on your mind instead of letting it fester.
Spend some time separately. (Boys' nights & Girls' nights!)
There are things in this life that are amazing. Too much of one amazing thing gets to be too much. Spending a lot of time with your other half is a great thing. Spending ALL of your time with your other half gets to be too much. We all need some time without that other person, even if they are our favorite person. You’ll also appreciate the time that you are with them more. Absence really can make the heart grow fonder.
It’s also not fair to try to make your other half feel guilty for spending time with friends away from you. If you trust them, there is no reason to get jealous.
Remember you're partners, not each others' parents.
She has a mother; he has a mother, too. Some people even have more than one mother. If they wanted to continue to be parented, they would have stayed with their parent(s). There is a difference between respecting each others’ opinions and wishes and trying to boss people around or make their life choices for them.
People, in general, don't change
This is one of those life lessons most of us need to learn the hard way on our own. It’s on this list because it’s tried and true advice. However, most of us will at one point have that light bulb moment when we realize just how true it is. While there are a very very few exceptions, and we make micro-changes in our life, our root personality doesn’t often change. If you don’t like something about your partner now, it won’t change when you get married, have babies, or do X, Y, and Z. Decide if you can handle that thing about your partner, and if you can’t, move on for the sake of everyone involved.
Lose expectations or at least communicate them
Expectations exist on small and big levels. They vary from what type of life you want to live and whether you want kids and how to raise them to something simple you wanted your significant other to do and what you deem acceptable or not. If you don’t communicate these expectations, there are bound to be issues. Dropping hints typically doesn’t work. Open your mouth and say it if you really want it to happen. Otherwise, cross your fingers; maybe you’ll get lucky.
In many ways, this is so much more important than even loving the person. If you see your partner as someone to spend your life with and maybe even have kids with, you need to be able to trust them. Otherwise, why waste your time?
Do fun things together
As mentioned earlier, life can get tedious, boring, and even incredibly difficult. If all we’re doing is talking about bills, our issues, our jobs, or the day to day, we can start to feel like our partner is part of that tedious life stuff. Doing fun things together can break up the monotony. Fun things don’t have to cost a lot of money either. You can have your fancy date or just stay home and craft or go for a walk around a park with a cup of coffee.
Having fun times also does things with brain chemistry to help you connect with your other half. Oxytocin is a beautiful thing.
Value and don't take for granted
After a little while, it’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that our significant other will always be there. When this happens, it’s easy to take them for granted and not show as much appreciation for the little things they do to enrich our lives. Every so often it’s good to check in with ourselves and remember how awesome it is that our partner is there with us on our life journey.
You and your other half both have goals, ambitions, and hobbies. Supporting your partner in these ventures and having them support you in yours makes the experience so much more enriching.
It’s amazing how often this actually happens. People seem to forget that their partner is someone to love and cherish, and making them feel smaller doesn’t do anything to support or lift them up. Even if you don’t agree with what your partner’s actions are, or if they make a mistake, there is no need to call them names or make them feel like the scum of the earth. This is even more true if other people are around.
Communicate or even over-communicate
Communication is a big deal. You may think that your partner knows how you think or feel, but unless you’ve told them, they more than likely don’t. Assumptions are never a good thing on either end. Most relationship issues, big or small, boil down to some form of communication failure.
PS: Get off your cell phone.