Making the Most of Relationships

You know the phrase “Relationships Take Work” but what does that mean specifically for you and your partner?

Every relationship has its unique challenges.  Maybe addiction or infidelity are a challenge for you.  Maybe its direct and in the moment communication or managing finances.  Maybe external factors get in the middle, like careers and in-laws and children.  

Whatever it is, these challenges make it hard to invest in our relationships.  They make it hard to move close to our partner, listen and support them, and be vulnerable and honest.

Ironically, investing in our relationships (and ourselves) is the exact remedy for these challenges.

Do you remember when you first met your partner? How exciting it was to receive an unexpected call or special surprise? How nice it was to hear they are thinking of you?  How good it felt to return those sentiments? 

During that time, would you also say you were being pretty good to yourself?  It was important impress this person, to be deeply connected to them, so you made sure you put your best foot forward.

Why did that stop?  When did it become too hard to invest in ourselves and in our relationships?

To help you get back on track, here are some ideas and tips to make the most of your relationship:

  1. Pick one thing that you can do every day that makes you feel good. Drink plenty of water, move your body for 30 minutes, listen to a motivating podcast, cook a healthy meal, read a funny novel.  Do one thing every day that makes you feel good.  It will not only relax you, but it will increase your ability to tolerate stress, execute patience, and give you a little feel-good dopamine release.
  2. Look for opportunities to turn toward your partner.  Pay attention to all the times you may roll your eyes, sigh heavily, or mumble some not so nice words under your breath.  Imagine every time you do this a little brick is placed on the wall that is building between you and your partner. Instead, use this as a chance to strengthen your relationship.  When you want to sigh heavily, you may choose now to say “I’m not understanding your choice.  Can you tell me more?” When you mumble under your breath, perhaps “It may not have been your intention, but that hurt my feelings” would work better. When you reach for the phone to text a friend to complain, I would imagine “I need your help right now” would go further.
  3. Find time to wow and woo.  Remember those first several weeks or even months of dating, when everyone was out to impress and win over one another? You can still make that happen! Leave a note of appreciation, pack a lunch, make a random call during the work day to let your partner know you are thinking of them, laugh and have fun together. Here is a list of 50 ways to show you.
  4. Create deep and meaningful conversations.  Some couples enjoy listening to podcasts and discussing their thoughts, others prefer to have conversation prompts (answering thought-provoking questions), and some prefer to watch moving films together and then analyzing.  All of these activities enhance your relationship by creating a connection, spending time together, and challenging your way of thinking and communicating. Its impossible to know every single thought your partner has so why not take advantage of these new ways of relating. 

If you are reading this list and saying to yourself, this is easier said than done OR my relationship is nowhere near ready for this OR I don’t even know if I want to make the most of my relationship, its ok.  Every relationship is unique and moves and grows at various speeds.  Use this list to help yourself set goals instead.  Perhaps your goal is to invest in yourself over the next 90 days.  Maybe its to talk with a professional to see if you can build enough trust in your relationship to turn towards your partner.  If you are not in a place to take action, start by creating a vision for your relationship.