It’s been eight years this month since me, and my wife first got into a relationship. Plenty of travelling, partying, two babies later and a bond still as strong as ever. I thought I’d share some experience in maintaining a healthy relationship.
When a relationship first begins, it’s full of lust and physical attraction, Based solely on your physical appeal to one and other, at first you only see what the other person wants you to see.
After this stage, I think, is where people most fail when it comes to relationships. You must love somebody as a whole; you can’t pick and choose pieces; we all come with good bits and bad bits.
Communication is vital from the very beginning, make sure always to share your genuine thoughts and opinions. If you can’t speak openly with your partner, this is an issue; we must feel free to express our feelings without being judged.
Main points on communication:
- Speak your mind (But think before you articulate your thoughts, as things can sound very different once they have left your mouth).
- Express your opinions.
- Listen to what your partner has to say.
- Don’t judge a person on their views and thoughts.
- Don’t make important decisions without discussing them with your partner first.
- Try not to escalate discussions into arguments, always speak to your partner how you would like to be spoken to.
Reflection is also a crucial part of communication, if a problem comes up, work through it together as a team. In a relationship, you shouldn’t have to work or battle with your thoughts alone.
Spend time together
This one becomes particularly essential but so easy to forget once you have children together, your kids can be all-consuming, add that in with things such as work commitments, keeping on top of housework and just general day to day tasks. There isn’t a lot of time left to spare.
Main points on spending time on each other:
- Date nights (go for a meal, cinema etc.)
- Don’t forget the little things like saying I love you, and saying good night before bed.
- Sit down and eat a meal together.
- Watch a film and have a cuddle.
- Chat about your day.
- Make time to get intimate (when you have kids this can slip, but this intimacy, desire and spark is what bought you together).
“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.”Morrie Schwartz
Take time for yourself
Equally as important as spending time with one and other, you must also enjoy some time on your own, some self-focus goes a long way in coming together as a team. You cannot expect to be one person’s absolute be-all end-all. You must let your partner have some breathing space from time to time.
Main points on self-focus:
- Don’t stop doing things you enjoy, keep on doing your favourite hobbies and pastimes.
- Keep in touch and meet up with friends.
- Spend some time on your own, just to relax and think.
- Make time for some self-love.
- If somebody loves you for you, they won’t try and change you, they will lift you up.
Remember just because you are in a relationship, you are both still your own unique person, you control your own mind. You should complement and love each other’s individuality.
If you’re a father reading this Or have any concerns about your partners wellbeing, I’ve written a article on A dad’s mental health please take some time and check it out.
Support and encouragement
Does your partner have a dream? A goal? A hobby they love?
Encourage and support them, you know that they can achieve something great, sometimes we all just need somebody to believe in us.
Is your partner going through a difficult time? Something playing on their mind? Work issue? Anxiety?
Speak to them, tell them that they are not alone, but more importantly, show them that they are not alone, actions speak louder than words. If you’re unsure of the best way to help out, be open and honest and ask.
Also if you’re going through something yourself, reach out to your partner, they should be the first line in your support network, don’t be angry if they don’t understand what you’re going through at first, if they love you they will do everything they can to help and show you that they care.
Teamwork not competition
Me and my wife pretty much have this one down. We are a team in almost every possible way. But if you have kids as I do, then it can sometimes turn into a bit of a competition, just silly stuff such as ‘which one of you is more tired’ (my wife and I are always having ‘tired offs’).
Main points on teamwork:
- Solve problems together.
- Share the load; this includes housework, emotional struggles etc.
- Work to both your strengths.
- I’m a firm believer in putting your money together, if you’re in a loving committed relationship, what’s yours should be theirs and vice versa if there is money hiding somewhere something is wrong.
- Ask how you can support your partner and ease some of life’s little stresses.
There is nothing more challenging in life than having children, it’s essential that you come together and work as a team. For your benefit and your children’s.
Compromise is something I struggle with personally, I’m a very opinionated person, my wife and I are both as stubborn as each other. You will inevitably clash on things at some point, but talk things out, both be part of the solution.
Main points on compromising:
- Try to see the bigger picture.
- Talk out your problems, don’t just shut down.
- Try not to be so stubborn.
- Give a little and take a little; it’s not all about you.
- Admit when you are wrong.
Don’t take Your partner for granted
Sometimes we all do this without even noticing, sometimes it’s the small stuff we forget that make up the bigger picture. When your partner makes you a meal to come home to every day after work, how your clothes all end up folded and put away…
Main points on not taking your partner for granted:
- Sometimes a simple thank you will suffice.
- Tell them you appreciate all the hard work they do.
- Let them have some downtime.
- Hold them, kiss them, be affectionate.
- Take charge and think for yourself, help out without being asked.
- Don’t always put everything else first, life can get hectic, but there should always be time for the people you love.
- Don’t forget what made you fall in love with them in the first place; you should grow together, not apart.
Never go to sleep without making up.
When this was said to my wife and me on our wedding day, it stuck with us both, we would always try to make up before going to bed anyway, but now we make the extra effort. There’s nothing worse than lying next to someone, wanting to speak your thoughts or declare your love for them but both being too stubborn, to say sorry first. Make sure to end each day with an ‘I love you’ because you never know what tomorrow holds.
Lastly just to finish off Don’t be so quick to throw in the towel, too many relationships fail because people give up too easily over things that can be resolved and worked through, I’m a firm believer there is the right person for everyone out there. Still, nobody is perfect; we all make mistakes.
If you are in a relationship with somebody who is violent towards you, this is never right. Try to speak to somebody and seek help, it’s not your fault.
Here are some links to organisations you can speak to and get support:
- One-Year-Old Keeps Waking At Night-5 Reasons why
- Should I Leave My Baby Alone With Dad?
- Dad and Newborn baby bonding tips
- How to maintain a healthy relationship
- A dad’s mental health