13 Keys to a Great Relationship.

As I’m sure you already know being part of a relationship isn’t always easy. I’m not just talking marriage; I’m talking about relationships with your spouse, children, parents and friends. Maybe even with co-workers. None of them are easy or strife-free.

Sometimes I am astounded by how easily people give up on what should or could be a great relationship. Too many people run off at the earliest sign of trouble or disagreement. I can’t help but think that nobody ever told them that life isn’t easy, it isn’t fair; but most of all, all relationships take work. Lots of work.

I’m not a relationship expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve been with my man for thirty five years. Life as a couple hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worth fighting for. What I have learnt over the years is quite simple.

1.      Relationships are give and take. Sometimes you are doing all the giving; sometimes you are doing all the taking. The best times are when give and take balance. Don’t be afraid to give, it will come back to you.

2.      Never make it personal. When you fight (and all relationships have bickering) try not to attack your partner personally. If your issue is his dirty socks littering the hallway, don’t call him a slob. (That’s making it personal.) Tell him that the dirty socks bother you and you would appreciate it if he could keep them picked up. The difference is slight, but it is easier on his ego and generally causes less hurt and backlash. (And whatever you do don’t say “For god’s sake will you just pick up your f’ing socks?”)

3.      Try to remember that we all have crappy days. Be understanding when he comes home and doesn’t want to interact with you until he unwinds. We all have those days where we just want to kick something, let that feeling pass before you invade his space. Listen to him bitch and whine about things. Yes he is grumpy and venting, but it isn’t directed at you, you are just his sounding board and a way to unwind. It is a sign of trust that he can act this way around you.

4.      Suck it up buttercup. Yes I said it. Sometimes we just have to suck up our hurt feelings and get on with life. In an ideal world, nobody would ever say or do anything to hurt another person: but shit happens! Get over it. Move along.

5.      Never go to bed angry. This sounds like an easy one, but it isn’t. People fight. But there is no sense in going to bed angry, you aren’t going to sleep anyway, and neither is your partner. Spend some time analysing why you are upset and talk it out. Look deep and find the forgiveness that you know is inside. Try to understand his point of view. I’m not saying forget, because that isn’t going to happen, but try to forgive and find understanding. Hash it out before you go to sleep. Kiss and make up. Enough said. (Don’t forget the make-up sex!)

6.      Be the bigger man. Sometimes being right isn’t right. We’ve all been there, having an argument and knowing that we are right and not being able to make them see our side or win the argument. But there are times when it is best to give in and give up. This one is hard to explain, but sometimes the best course of action is to back down and let him have his way. You’ll always know you were right, and I am betting that he’ll figure that out eventually.

7.      Share his interests. This one doesn’t require any explanation. Just spend time doing what he likes doing. Watch him play hockey sometimes, even if it feels like watching paint dry. Learn something about what interests him and try to share his passion. (My man will never be a quilter, but he listens when I talk, asks questions and tries to share my enthusiasm for it.)

8.      Choose your battles. Not every issue is worth fighting over. Remember this, learn it, and know it deep inside. Some fights just aren’t worth the grief they cause. Step back and consider things. Save your fights for the important things, otherwise you could find yourself fighting hard for something that in the long run means nothing and then lacking the gumption to fight for the big items.

For example … our car is butt friggen ugly. It is rusty and crappy looking. But it is mechanically sound and runs like a charm (except the really loud exhaust.) I would love a new car or even to have the muffler fixed so it was quieter. He gets a kick out of the loud sound. Sigh. We really can’t afford a new car right now, so there is no sense kicking up a fuss about it. To do so would just add stress to our lives. Yes, he knows I want a new car; but I’m not going to push for one because it just isn’t worth fighting over. (If it were a mechanical wreck, then it would be worth fighting over.)

I’m not saying be a doormat here, just think about the argument and decide if it is worth the effort and strife. Is this the fight you want to have, or do you want to save the argument for something that actually means something to you. Something big.

9.      Give him space. You have friends, he has friends. You don’t need to spend every waking minute together. Spend time apart too. Do your own thing. See your own friends, let him have time with his. Jealousy has no place here. There is no sense in making him stay home when he really wants to be out with the boys. He’ll just be miserable. Let him go out, let him have fun. He’ll be much happier when he gets back! Give him time to do his thing, it leaves you time to do yours and you’ll both come back renewed and refreshed and happy to be together.

10.  Honesty really is the best policy. No secrets, no lies, no hiding the truth through evasion or lies of omission. Honesty leads to trust. No relationship can survive without trust in each other. There is no way to make it clear how important this is!

11.  Stand up for him. Defend him if he needs it. And don’t be slamming him to your friends. Yes, we all talk about our problems and difficulties. But there is a huge difference between commiserating and just being nasty. Find that line and stay on the good side of it.

12.  Don’t be afraid to show your feelings, to him, and to the world. You love this guy for a reason. Why by shy about it? There is a real pleasure in having someone in your life who isn’t afraid to show the world that you are special to them!

13.  Hug often. I once read that everyone needs three hugs a day to stay happy and healthy. Personally, I don’t think that is enough! I hug my family every time I see them. (Even my son-in-laws and brother-in-laws on occasion, though I think it creeps them out. *grin*) I hug my friends too, but not often enough. Hug, hug, hug. I can’t say it enough. Hug!

Hopefully this all makes sense. I’m not advocating backing down all the time, or becoming subservient to your partner’s needs with no regard for your own. I’m saying that life is give and take. The more you give, the more you will get. Take pleasure in doing right by your partner and being there for him when he needs you, and in knowing he’ll be there for you when you need him. Work together. You loved each other to join your lives, now you need to love each other enough to make it work. And don’t forget that you are going to have some bitching, screaming, name calling, ugly fights. Those fights are just part of life.