5 Things You Can Start Doing Right Now to Improve Your Relationship

September 18 - Tracy Crossley

We women are expected to have it all, and we're also expected to be able to balance it all. While most of those expectations are just straight-up ridiculous, some of them have some pretty good logic behind them, like learning how to balance your love life with your career.

Our relationships can make or break our personal lives, so it's important to nurture what's going on at home. Here are five ways you can improve your relationship:

  1. Let go of how things are supposed to be.

    It’s easy to attach to outcomes, whether it’s what you actually want or what you THINK you want. Maybe you’re pushing your partner toward marriage because you have an internal timeline. First, ask yourself why you want to get married. Is it a form of validation that someone chose you? If true partnership is what you’re after, can you achieve that without tying the knot? Be honest with yourself. If marriage really is important to you, that’s fine—just know your “why.” The key is distinguishing external motivation from internal motivation. When you’re focused on the “shoulds” of life, your true desires get lost and you end up following a road that doesn’t lead to happiness.

2. Ditch the score card.

How often do you give to get? When doing something nice for your partner, are you giving from your heart without expectations? Let’s say you decide to cook a nice dinner one night. Are you doing it because you truly want to, or because you need a date for a work event next week? Stock piling good deeds so you can cash them in later is a form of manipulation and it doesn’t lead to an authentic partnership.

3. Take responsibility for your choices.

It takes two to tango, so even if you think your relationship problems are all your partner’s fault, you have to look at your role. If your partner doesn’t make you a priority, why do you choose to stay? Hint: it’s likely based on your old patterns and has nothing to do with him/her. Placing blame on someone else for how you feel or how you’re treated is a powerless position to be in. Own your choices and you’ll start to move toward making healthier ones.

4. When you feel a wave of negative emotion, allow it.

When in an intimate relationship, you’re going to be emotionally triggered by something your partner does or says. It can seem innocuous, like not texting you back right away, but it sends you into a tizzy, bringing up old feelings. Instead of shoving them down or distracting yourself, sit with them. If you feel anxious, allow the anxiety. If you’re angry or scared or rejected, feel it. Our instinct is to avoid these negative emotions because they don’t feel good, but it doesn’t make them go away. Instead, take a two minute time-out to ride the wave and breathe through it. You may feel like you’re going to die, but you won’t. Allowing the discomfort will actually make the feelings dissipate quicker, and may even prevent an emotional overreaction later.

5. Speak your truth.

Vulnerability in relationships is hard. It’s easier to reveal the shiny, happy parts of yourself and hide how you really feel for fear of rejection or appearing crazy. This, however, is not the key to a healthy relationship. Accepting all parts of yourself and sharing all parts of yourself is true intimacy, so the next time your partner does something to upset you, tell him/her how you feel without blaming or trying to change their behavior. Example: “When you don’t take out the trash, I feel like my needs are being neglected and you don’t care. That may sound silly and irrational, but it’s the truth. I’m not forcing you to take it out, but I want you to know how it makes me feel and why I react the way I do.” Truth spoken.

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