by Megan Stubbs
One of the most common misconceptions about relationships is that they should happen effortlessly, without conflict or discourse. Sure, things may seem to fall into place and be perfect in the beginning, but the honeymoon phase can’t last forever. When things start to get difficult, and you’re unprepared for conflict, it can be shocking. We must shift our understanding of relationships from what we see in popular media to what happens in real life. Having to work at it doesn’t mean you’ve failed in your relationship; in fact, it’s just the opposite! Happy, long-lasting relationships take effort. In order to enjoy the good, you have to address concerns that arise. Much like a delicate flower, relationships take constant care to flourish and be sustainable over the years. Here are some tips to keep your relationship thriving.
Wishing your partner will do something to make you happy is setting yourself up for disappointment. You cannot rely on him or her to be your sole source of happiness. The pressure of performance can be crippling to anyone and cause resentment to build. Imagine if the roles were reversed: Could you be living your best life while constantly worrying you weren’t doing enough? A fulfilling relationship is when both partners’ actions are freely given. Take ownership of your happiness and let everything else your partner does be the icing on the cake.
While relationships are a team sport, it’s important not to overlook the value of self-development. Before you joined forces, you were on your own; you had your own set of dreams that you wanted to accomplish. Now, many of your goals include a “we” aspect, but don’t forget to cultivate things on your own. A relationship is fulfilling when there is a mix of individual and joint goals. When you overlook your own individuality, feelings of resentment can arise when working toward a joint objective or in the case that your partner is pursuing their own plans without you. Make sure you both have something to work toward individually and encourage each other to realize those ambitions.
No matter how hard you’d like to argue against it, few of us are immune to the influence of media and society on our relationships. It’s one thing to admire a couple you see in a TV show or a celebrity tabloid, but it’s another when you use it as a comparison to your relationship.
You may idolize a celebrity couple because their life looks so easy/romantic/sexy, but you only see what is shown. Instead of using media as a checklist against your own relationship, sit down with your significant other and discuss what your ideal partnership looks like. If you are on the right track, great!
If you decide changes need to be made, even better! Keep the communication channels open and clear.
Speaking of communication, talk about your sex life. Are you happy with it? Do you want more? Do you want to slow it down? Your partner isn’t a mind reader, and if things have been feeling off in the bedroom, ask them about it! If you are experiencing a sexual frequency mismatch, here is a quick way to get to the bottom of it: Write down how many times you’d like to have sex per week. Then write down how many times per week you think your partner would like to have it. Have your partner do the same. Share results with
each other and find a schedule that will work for both of you.
Just like a smile is contagious, the level of energy you bring to your relationship will be mirrored in your partner. If you want your connection to be more passionate, be a self-starter and put your energy into it!