Fairy-tale love is hard to find and one of the most common questions we hear is, “How do we make our relationship work?” The answers are complicated, varied, and, after a while, can start to sound like muddled platitudes.
But these commonplace sayings get repeated because they work. With this in mind, here are 12 cliche pulled together that, in fact, reveal simple, tried-and-true advice for having a healthy, happy relationship. Read on and let us know what you think:
1. Mind your manners“Please,” “thank you” and “you’re welcome,” can go a long way in helping your partner remember that you respect and love him and don’t take him for granted.
2. Variety is the spice of lifeStudies have shown that dullness can lead to dissatisfaction with a relationship. Trying something new can be as simple as visiting an unfamiliar restaurant or as grand as a backpacking trip through Sri Lanka. Discoveries you make together will keep you feeling close.
3. The couple that plays together, stays togetherFind a sport or hobby that you both love (no, watching TV does not count) and make that a priority in your relationship. Camping, biking, building model trains... whatever it is, find something you enjoy doing together.
4. Fight rightIn order to have productive arguments, keep these rules in mind. Don’t call your spouse names. When things get really tough, take a break from the argument. Let the other person finish his/her sentences. Don’t initiate a discussion when you’re angry.
5. I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mineNo one likes demands, but everyone can appreciate a compromise. If you want your lover to do something and you’re not sure he’ll be agreeable, the quickest way to avoid a confrontation is to sweeten the deal.
For example: “Sure, I’ll watch Monday Night Football if you take me to see the next movie of my choice.”
6. Two heads are better than oneBeing in a relationship basically means you’ve made a merger; you’ve not only joined assets but inherited the other’s problems as well. Rather than looking at his problems as merely his own, tackle them together.
For example, if he’s gaining weight, rather than pushing him to diet on his own, enroll in an exercise programme together.
7. Distance makes the heart grow fonderMaintain your own friendships and occasionally have a night out without your “significant other”. Doing things without your “significant other” not only makes you miss him or her, it also keeps you sane.
And, in case the relationship doesn’t work out, you’ll still have your friends.
8. Sound it outIt other words: communicate! Talking out the tough subjects; money, religion, fidelity, raising kids, will not be the most fun you’ve had, but it’ll be valuable.
9. Laughter is the best medicineLearn to laugh at yourself and at silly mistakes. If he throws your N15,000 cashmere sweater in the dryer, laughing it off is, in the long run, better than getting angry. It’s is just a N15,000 cashmere sweater, not the end of the world.
10. Keep your eyes on the prizeYes, he forgot your co-worker’s name for the 10th time, but it probably doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about you. If you keep your perspective fixed on the goal, to be in a happy, functioning partnership, you’re less likely to get tangled up in every minor annoyance. Remember, you both want the same thing.
11. Quitters never winFind a ritual and keep it alive, no matter what. Whether it’s always kissing each other good night, renewing wedding vows every year, sleeping in as late as you want once a month, or committing to having sex once a week, pick something that makes you both feel good and stick to it, even when you’re tempted to skip.
12. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going... to therapyStudies have shown that couples who seek counselling during rocky periods are more successful in resolving their issues than those who don’t.
Whether it’s from a religious figure, counsellor or mental health professional, getting an expert to help sort out strife is as wise as forgoing self-installation and hiring a plumber to put in a new sink.