Building lasting relationships is quite possibly one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences possible. When two people set out to weather life’s storms together, they invariably experience their fair share of drama and challenges – this is often complicated by our notions of what we think successful relationships are supposed to look and feel like, based on romantic sentiments that we’ve been exposed to in movies, novels, and even social media. In last month’s blog, we explored some common myths that often end up hurting our romantic relationships a lot more than improving them – here are a few more to consider letting go of, if you find that it is affecting you and your partner.
- All conflict is bad – When two individuals with unique opinions, preferences and personalities are intimately involved, it is only natural to expect that there will be things that you don’t see eye to eye about or have disagreements over. There is a common misconception that healthy couples never have arguments or that fighting often is a sign of a doomed relationship. While arguments and disagreements can be unpleasant, they can often help understand your partner’s perspective, allow both sides to reflect on what is truly important and result in solutions and compromises that satisfy each partner’s needs while also furthering goals as a couple. What is more important is how you approach a disagreement, and not what you are disagreeing about. Always approach any argument with respect, understanding and patience for your partner. Don’t attack, belittle, or lay blame – that will only serve to cause hurt, distract from the true cause of the fight and push each apart. Navigating conflicts productively and respectfully over the course of time can often bring couples closer together and lead to healthier relationships. So don’t shy away from those difficult conversations but rather strive to create an environment where both of you feel comfortable speaking your mind.
- There should always be a spark – We’ve all grown up with the notion that being in love is all about the breathless excitement, butterflies in your stomach and grand romantic gestures. The early stages of a relationship can be full of fun adventures and passionate declarations, as both partners get to know, and try to impress, each other. However, it is important not to mistake that excitement for true love – if a relationship flourishes, the initial pleasure and anticipation of a new romance naturally deepens into something more meaningful over time. The key is to understand that in healthy relationships, love doesn’t fade – it simply evolves into something more lasting than a spark. Even if couples in marriages or long-term relationships find themselves settling into a routine or spending most of their time juggling errands and chores, it is possible to keep the magic alive by making an active effort -simple pleasures like a spontaneous date, bringing home thoughtful gifts, or a weekend getaway.
- Your partner should fulfil all your needs – Many people believe that finding the right partner to share their life with will be the ultimate key to feeling fulfilled in every aspect of their being. However, everyone has individual interests, passions, preferences, and hobbies, that may not always perfectly align with their partners’. Not only is it unfeasible to expect one person to be able to meet all your varied needs, but in fact it lays a tremendous amount of pressure on any one individual, which can snowball into stress and anxiety and ultimately put more strain on the relationship. If your partner doesn’t understand or share the same interest and enthusiasm for something you enjoy doing, like having literary conversations or getting competitive in video games, it is perfectly okay to seek out other like-minded individuals like friends, family members, coworkers, and community members to enjoy those activities with, instead of expecting to share it with your partner and in turn feeling disappointed and frustrated when those expectations go unmet. Conversely, if your partner chooses to do the same, it is not a reflection of his or her disinterest in spending time with you. Spending time apart from your partner in pursuing your own interests is a good way to develop your own identify and practice self-care – this in turn will allow you to be more supportive towards your partner and contribute more meaningfully to your relationship.
- It will get easier with time – Even as couples hit their stride in time and gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their partner both as individuals and as a part of the couple, it is important to always keep in mind that all successful relationships need constant care, attention, and a joint commitment to always grow and learn together. Each phase of a person’s life brings its own unique set of challenges and there can be unforeseen setbacks at any point in time that can shape people’s behaviours, attitudes, needs and desires. So, it’s not always a guarantee that things will automatically be smooth sailing with time and become complacent in your relationship and start to take your partner for granted. Rather it’s imperative to remain open to evolving with your partner and remain attuned to their needs, while also examining your own, as you navigate through life’s adventures together.