You’ve all seen them, couples walking in the supermarket with their two toddlers and an infant in a shopping cart or two carts. Everybody is happy and smiling. The parents are smiling at each other and making decisions on what food to buy, the two toddlers are sitting in the carts behaving like young adults, the baby is asleep. Or, maybe you've seen this couple at a work party or at your child's school. The couple is engaged in conversation, smiles on their faces, and holding hands. So, what do you think? Is this real, or Is it a facade? It really could be either. I’m sure you know a few couples who always manage to put on their “happy faces” in public or in front of their families. I’m sure you also know a few couples who are genuinely happy with their lives. If you tend to be jealous of those people whom you perceive to have strong, healthy relationships, you may need to consider taking a closer look at your own.
First, realize that any relationship requires a commitment of two people to strive and survive. This is true whether you are talking about a harmonious, well-adjusted family, a happy couple, or a great friendship. Only you, and your partner, know if you are willing to admit the issues in your relationship or choose to hide those issues and play the role of the happy couple to the rest of the world. What follows are several tips that can improve your relationship with your significant other.
Strong relationships are largely based on give and take. You cannot be strictly a giver or strictly a receiver. You both have to engage in both roles in order to maintain the balance of a successful relationship. Be sure you are at least aware of this much before beginning a relationship. Also, be aware that all relationships face tough times at one time or another. You and your partner have to be willing to talk about the issues at hand in order to resolve them. You can't just shut out your partner when things aren't ideal.
Notice if your partner is attempting to drop hints that something is wrong. Listen, listen, and listen some more! Make eye contact. Truly listen to what your partner is trying to tell you. Put down your newspaper, magazine, or book. Turn off the television or log off of the computer and listen. Nothing shows more connection than making eye contact while listening to your partner. Hear what your partner has to say, without interrupting. When your partner is through, you can choose to respond or choose to ask if you can talk about things at a later time, after you have thought things through.
Laugh together. You don't have to be an extremely humorous person to share laughs, inside jokes, or special funny memories with your partner. Always make time to laugh. Try not to sweat the small things that may be going on. If you can laugh together, it's always a good sign. Just be careful not to laugh "at" each other. There is absolutely no room for disrespect in a great relationship.
Make a date with your partner. Easier said than done, yes; schedule a date night where it's just the two of you. Try to do this twice a month. Maybe you can't afford to hire a babysitter. If that is the case, swap babysitting among your friends so they, too can get some time together. If you go too long without time for just the two of you, it's possible you will fall into the trap of only coexisting, which can also lead to one or both of you being amazing parents who have little to no energy or affection left for each other. This is a place where many couples with younger children find themselves.
Touch each other every single day. Make it a rule to always kiss your partner hello, goodbye, and good night, but don't make it an automatic peck on the cheek. Mean it; make it worthwhile. Say, "I love you" - often. You never know when you may be seeing your partner for the last time.
Never cheat on your partner – physically OR emotionally. If you ever consider cheating, your relationship has issues that need to be addressed immediately. Along the same lines, and this is probably the best advice for newer couples, as well as good advice for struggling couples, never say or do anything that you wouldn't say or do if your partner was standing right there beside you. For instance, would you outwardly flirt with someone else if your partner were standing beside you? Would you make "eyes" at someone else? Would your head follow the body of someone passing by? Use your head, think about your actions and treat your partner how you would like to be treated.
You are obviously together because you chose to be together, and you both clearly thought the world of each other at one point. These tips may not fix your issues, but they are a good starting point. Don’t you owe it to your partner, your relationship, your marriage and your children to do whatever it takes to improve your relationship with your partner?
The counselors at the OC Relationship Center can help. Our counselors are trained professionals who are committed to helping you get back on track to giving your relationship the attention it deserves. Call today at 949-220-3211, or book an appointment via our online calendar.