Relationships are under a lot of pressure these days and I want to help. There are certain basic guidelines that can benefit any two people trying to build a truly happy and meaningful relationship. Here are 10 of my favorite timeless guidelines for building a better relationship.
10 Timeless relationship guidelines
1. Listen with your ears and your heart. It is extremely important to listen to your partner when they try to communicate with you. Communication is the life blood of a good relationship. Giving them your undivided attention is a sign of deep respect, but don’t just hear them with your ears, make sure that your heart is listening also. Instead of nitpicking over their choice of words try to hear the real meaning behind their words. If they want to talk when you are in the middle of something important, unless it’s an emergency, suggest a time when you’ll be able to pay closer attention.
2. Never, ever keep score. Don’t walk around with a watchful eye making sure your partner carries their share of the workload. Instead, take the view that it doesn’t matter if you end up doing more than half of what has to be done. There is absolutely no benefit to trying to make sure that everything in your relationship is divided fifty-fifty. Do what you can reasonably do and avoid making comparisons. Unless your spouse is very lazy or refuses to take responsibility in general, don’t keep track of who does more and who does less.
3. Don’t criticize in public. Being criticized can be tough to take under the best of conditions, but especially in front of other people. All it does is humiliate your partner and raise their defenses. When you embarrass your mate in public it weakens the bonds of intimacy and can undermine your relationship. The same principle applies if you have children. Criticizing your partner in the presence of your children undermines their authority with the kids and can cause them to develop an attitude of disrespect. This is especially true if your mate is a stepparent.
4. Don’t fight about money. Money is a highly emotionally charged subject, especially when couples are feeling a financial squeeze. Disagreements about money have always been among the most common causes of relationship conflicts and this trend has escalated dramatically since the economic downturn. Money problems can cause tremendous stress which seems to form a catalyst for frustration based agitation. When money is tight it’s vital to seek a solution together as a couple. If you lean on each other your already happy relationship will actually get stronger during tough times.
5. Eliminate “always” and “never” from your vocabulary. When your mate does something wrong, exaggerating the offense will only make things worse. Nobody likes to be told that they always make the same mistake or that they never do what they should have done. It may seem like that is the case when you are upset, but how do you feel when someone lays the same accusation on you? Thinking in exaggerated terms is nothing more than a bad habit that only agitates a situation and undermines your relationship. Try replacing words like always and never with more realistic, less accusatory terms like often or sometimes. You will feel much less angry inside.
6. Build trust into your relationship. Trust doesn’t happen by accident, it’s up to you to earn it. This may take some effort if your partner has been betrayed in the past and still carries the emotional scars. If you want to be trusted then avoid behavior that creates distrust. Be mindful not to get too close with or flirt with members of the opposite sex. Even if your motives start out innocent, in reality you are just inviting problems into your relationship. Your partner may start to feel threatened or you might begin to view that other person as an alternative in the event that your relationship doesn’t work out. Be resolved to do all you can reasonably do to give your partner every reason to trust you completely.
7. Only make favorable comparisons. This is something that you need to be very careful with because making comparisons can be a two edged sword. Being compared with some exceptional person in a positive way can really brighten your partner’s day. On the other hand, making an unfavorable comparison is something you never want to do because it will cause your partner to feel either inadequate or jealous. And whatever you do don’t compare them to your ex. In fact, don’t even talk about a past relationship. It is much better to just leave the past in the past and focus on the present.
8. Work at fulfilling your mate’s emotional needs. When a person’s most important emotional needs are met, they feel content and fulfilled. Conversely, when a person’s most important emotional needs are not being met, they feel empty, lonely, unfulfilled, or frustrated. Granted, every person has the responsibility to try and meet their own needs, but you can help. Making a concerted effort to help fulfill the most important emotional needs of your mate will go a long way toward building a happier relationship. As you work to discover and help fill the needs of your partner you will find that your own needs are also being met. This is truly a win for everyone involved.
9. Be ready to forgive. We all make mistakes and when we do we appreciate it when the people we care about give us the benefit of the doubt. Well, this is a two way street and we should be willing to forgive when the opportunity arises. It’s been said that a happy relationship is made up of two good forgivers. One of the ways we can show a forgiving attitude is by not holding unrealistic expectations. This takes into account the fact that no one is perfect and sets the stage for built in forgiveness. Anything that fosters feelings of togetherness helps build your happy relationship and that is exactly what a forgiving attitude does.
10. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Any relationship worth building up and strengthening is something to be deeply grateful for. After all, you could be alone! Having an attitude of gratitude means that your partner will know that you appreciate them. Your appreciation will be obvious in your words and actions, and they will never need to question your feelings in this. Gratitude is like a big giant security blanket that will transform the overall feel of your relationship. Being thankful for your mate every single day is one of the most empowering things you can do to build a truly exceptional relationship.
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