Often, unwanted tension in relationships can be avoided, or at the very least reduced. This is not to say that conflict is the worst thing ever, in fact, it is sometimes necessary, but often enough it is easier than you think to show your partner that you love and appreciate them.
Relationships are hard; my boyfriend and I are the first to admit it. We have been through so much over the years, including many fights and valuable learning experiences. And so together we created this list for other couples to look to, just as a little reminder or refresher. Maybe you are having some problems or maybe things are all sunshine and rainbows, either way – who cares! This is for ALL kinds of romantic relationships and partnerships. First things first, remember to…
I write this one first because for some of us (*cough* me) this is harder than it should be. When your partner wants a minute, give it to them. Seriously, it will stop a lot of fights. Also, give them the space to be who they want to be. Whether it is a career or a hobby they want to pursue, or help they need to seek – it could be anything – let them have the space to be their own individual. Some partners want you super involved in every aspect of their lives, others want to be a bit more independent. Either way, respect your person’s vibe and support them to become the individual they want to be.
I hate when people in relationships act like things are entirely shiny and perfect all the time. Let’s face it, no relationship is perfect, even when it appears freaking fantastic. We are all born as individuals and grow to live in this world as we know it. When we decide to love another person a lot of compromise and vulnerability is required on both ends. This is why I would recommend therapy, not just for couples that feud, but for those who want to deepen their understanding of one another. Therapy is a safe, non-judgemental and moderated setting that is a great tool to allow people to open up. Get it out of your head that therapy is a shameful place to be, it can help you (and your partner) end up in the most beautiful place emotionally and mentally.
Can’t afford therapy? Neither can I. Several health and community centres offer couples and individual counselling for free! Call your local Planned Parenthood or family doctor for free resources. Sometimes you may want to do a session alone and then with your partner and that’s totally feasible and OKAY. Remember: There is always something to talk about.
3)Introduce your partner to your friends and family
There is nothing worse than feeling unacknowledged by your partner. One of the most important things you can do to acknowledge and validate your partner is introduce them to your family and/or friend group. This is not something you have to rush into, but do not avoid it in the long term. When this fails to happen, your partner may feel like a secret or less important to you. For those of you that are loners and/or hate your family…I get it. Sometimes families are whack or you don’t even speak to them. If this is the case, your partner will surely understand if you just explain it to them.
You may think it’s okay to be “liking” that random person’s Instagram photo but to some people it’s not. Talk about what is okay and not okay with your partner beforehand. Know each other’s boundaries. If you don’t, you could be putting strain on your partner when you start outwardly expressing things to the world via finger or mouse tap. Believe it or not, you might just be shooting blows to their confidence (and they might be too shy to tell you about it).
Oh and for all of you who are in relationships, but connected with your exes on social media… make sure you talk to your current partner about this and if they are not okay with it, be respectful of that! It’s one thing if you and your ex split on good terms, and decided to just be friends. But if that’s the case, you should never feel the need to hide it and your current partner should be able to trust you and not feel weird about it. If you don’t feel like you can be open with your partner about this, you probably shouldn’t be interacting with your ex in the first place. You do not need to know what’s going on in their lives, nor do they need to know what’s going on in yours. “But they added/ followed me first”, you say? Be the bigger person and decline, actions speak way louder than words. The simple and effective act of remaining neutral online will 100 per cent help maintain your romantic relationship and show your partner that they are the apple of your eye – not some other random Internet “hottie”.
Never heard of Love Languages? First patented in 1995 by Gary Chapman, the 5 love languages consist of Physical Touch, Acts of Service, Gifts, Words of Affirmation and Quality Time as the five primary means of expressing commitment to your partner. Not all of these languages mean the same to everyone, but it is important to discover what forms of affections and commitment you like your partner to express to you as well as the ways in which they feel reassured. Take the Love Languages Test here to find out what forms of communication are important to you. I would suggest you say you’re single (even if this is false) to make the quiz truly about you. Then pass your results onto your partner so that they can learn about you and do the quiz themselves. Believe it or not, this test can create a mutual understanding between partners that is really special and helpful.
6)Understand that it is okay to fight and try to learn from fights when they happen
The picture is funny guys, okay? But don’t actually get physical. We tend to think that fighting is the worst thing that can happen in relationships, but I disagree. How are we supposed to be fully honest with another person and never clash? It is impossible to coexist harmoniously with another human being 100 per cent of the time, and we should all accept this. I am not saying that fighting about every little thing is healthy nor should you be violent or abusive when fighting, but I am trying to tell you it can be an opportunity to learn about yourself and your partner. Be mindful of what your fights are about and if they are followed by a resolution or compromise. If they are, do not harp on about the fight and let it define your relationship.
When I fight with my boyfriend it can sometimes remind me of how I fight with my sister (I get that sounds weird, but don’t go there). Man, she can enrage me, but after a few minutes of “explaining” one another’s point of views, we stop. I look at her and I sometimes forget why I was mad at her because I love her so much, and the same thing happens when I fight with my boyfriend. Perspective changes after a few minutes of arguing and perhaps after some silence too!
You partner may not be from the same cultural background as you, and believe you me this can call for some adjustments on both ends. Be aware of cultural and family traditions your partner and/or their family may practice. Say you are dating a Mexican with Christian Baptist parents like I am. We both don’t confide in their beliefs, but we understand the importance of respecting these beliefs in their home. It’s a hard lesson, but do not blame your partner for uncomfortable parental situations you might run into, like staying in a hotel with his mom or having to learn Spanish. These situations can actually be eye-opening.
In another case you may find that you and your partner do not celebrate the same holidays or worship the same deity. Do not get mad at your partner for not wanting to celebrate Christmas or birthdays, which are holidays you love. We all have the right to value different dates and practices, this does not have to be the be all and end all of relationships. Instead, I recommend that you and your partner celebrate your differences and be open to learning about one another’s cultures. We cannot control who we love, let alone where they come from – don’t let predetermined expectations ruin a beautiful reality. If you’re looking for marriage or relationship counseling in BC, click here and check out Shoreline Counselling.