Often times we look around and wonder, “That couple seems so happy together. I want that” or “Why don’t I have that with my partner?” Is there some secret to why some couples appear to be happy and content while other, maybe even our own, relationships seem to be in constant turmoil or in a state of unhappiness? It’s sad to think that about half of all marriages around the world end in divorce. I’m not going to delve into the why’s and why not’s of divorce, but instead I’m going to share with you some tips that can help couples achieve a happy balanced relationship or marriage.
Honesty is the best policy. If a marriage or relationship is a house, then honesty is the foundation with which you build on. You can’t have trust without honest. You can’t have intimacy without honesty and trust. Do you see what I’m getting at here? Hiding things from your significant other, whether they be financial untruths, “harmless” flirting either when you’re out without your partner or even on social media, meeting up with friends or exes without telling your significant other or issues of infidelity, once you have decided to be dishonest with your partner, you’ve taken a sledgehammer to the foundation of your entire relationship. A Happy balanced relationship needs honesty to thrive and survive.
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- Actions speak louder than words. Telling your partner you love them is awesome. It’s always nice to hear how others feel about us and that we are loved. But it’s equally important to back those words up with your actions. Are you truly there as a support for your partner in good and bad? Do you take the other person’s thoughts and feelings into consideration before you make a decision that affects you both or do you act first and discuss later? Do you help around the house without being asked? Do you step in and help relieve some of your partner’s to-do list when possible or do you pile more on? It’s just as important to show your significant other that you love them as it is to tell them.
- Communication is key! True intimacy begins with honesty and is kept alive with communication. Communication builds trust, strengthens the bond between the two of you, puts your feelings into words and actions, and really helps cement the two of you to the life you are building and sharing together. Communicate about everything—friends, troubles, joys, goals, dreams, the news, your interests and hobbies, concerns and challenges you may be facing, about misunderstandings and about conflicts. Talk and then talk some more.
- Know when to be silent. Yes, I just finished telling you to pretty talk until your blue in the face, but sometimes silence is golden. There will be times in when, in order to maintain a happy balanced relationship, you will need to zip your lip. In the heat of an argument, for instance, is not exactly the right time to say something out of anger, resentment, fear or any other negative feelings you may have in that moment. Speaking when you are upset, whether directly related to your partner or not, can result in hurting each other’s feelings and causing the trust in your relationship to break down. It’s best to bite your tongue, swallow your words and walk away in order for the two of you to calm down and approach the topic at a later date when you are both calm, cool, collected…and rational.
- Be a teammate and an individual. Have you ever heard the expression, “No man is an island”? In order to have a happy balanced relationship you need to work together with your partner as a team, not just as two individuals who just happen to be going through life together and may live under the same roof and spend some time together. With that said, to maintain balance in the relationship and not become codependent, you also need to be a whole and balanced individual. The healthiest way we can interact with those close to us is by being truly interdependent. This is where two people, both strong, balanced individuals, are involved with each other, but without sacrificing themselves or compromising their values. What they have is a balanced relationship.
- You can only change you. I see this too often—someone enters into a relationship with someone thinking they can change the other person. Think again! The only person that you can change is you! If you enter into a relationship ignoring certain behaviors or red flags thinking, “Oh, he/she will change for me” you’re wrong! That person will change when, and if, he or she wants, not because of anything you say or do. You cannot change another person, but you can change yourself and how you respond. If you enter into a relationship with the frame of mind that you can change the other person, you are only setting yourself up for disappointment and heartbreak. In a happy balanced relationship you accept the other person for who they are, not for what you want them to be for you.
- Become, and stay, friends. Some of the best relationships come from being friends first, lovers second. Laugh together, be silly together, explore together.
- You each take some ‘Me Time’. I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”, but don’t dismiss this old adage as just an antiquated notion from another lifetime. In a healthy relationship, there is a balance between individuality, or alone time, and togetherness. Taking some time out for yourself is essential whether you are single or in a relationship. Self care, or lack of it, can be crucial to living a balanced life. If we don’t take care of ourselves, how can we possibly take care of anyone else? Think of yourself like a bank account. If you keep making emotional, physical, mental and or spiritual withdrawals from your “self” account to help others and do for others without making equal amount of deposits into your account, what will you have left to give? Taking time away from your partner to focus on yourself isn’t selfish, it’s self love.
- Understand each other’s individual world views and definitions. This sounds like some complex, but in reality it’s very simple. A couple is composed of two individuals. When you try to mesh these two individual, and often times different, lives together, it can create problems which lead to arguments as each individual tries to subconsciously push their own worldviews and definitions onto the other person. Neither person is “right” or “wrong”, you’re just different. This doesn’t mean you’re doomed either. It means you have to communicate and learn what each individual’s definition of balance is, what happy balanced relationship looks like to them, and what their world views are (such as relationship expectations, thoughts on ‘me time’, etc).
- No one is perfect, not even you. We all have good days and bad days. Cut yourself, and your significant other some slack—even a happy balanced relationship will fall out of balance sometimes. Perfect, everlasting balance forever and always, every second of every minute of every day is impossible! Don’t drive yourself, or your loved one, crazy with trying to be in perfect balance all the time.
Hollywood and just about every romantic novelist constantly demand that sex and romance are the keys to an amazing relationship. But if you truly want a happy balanced relationship, you’re going to have to put more than sex and romance into it. Yes, fundamentally sex and romance are part of a happy relationship for the most people, but the majority of people would also list trust, honesty, security, communication, loyalty and a slew of other factors as being equally as important to a healthy balanced relationship. If you are looking for the keys to sustain a healthy balanced relationship over time, past the honeymoon phase and into the future, then you have to be willing to put in the extra work required. These tips are suggestions on how to build and sustain a happy balanced relationship with your partner, but the success of any relationship is dependent on the two individuals within it.