How Can You Improve Your Relationship? Follow These Tips
If you’re looking to improve your relationship, you’ve probably encountered the standard responses: practise good communication, practise active listening, do your share around the house, and emphasize romantic acts in the love language of your partner. These are fantastic tips, and they absolutely will improve your relationship. The following will look at several less common elements of improving a relationship that are just as important as these standard pieces of advice.
Focus On Your Needs
Studies show that couples are far more likely to get into an argument when they’re hungry than when they’re fed. In fact, most negative moods can be lessened or completely dissolved by meeting our basic needs.
Focusing on your needs is a concept that gets thrown around a lot. Unfortunately, it’s not deeply understood by a lot of people who use it. All beings on this planet have needs. Needs include: feeling safe, resting, eating, getting hydrated, feeling clean, physical affection, and socialization.
It’s tragic that so many of us were taught to ignore our needs in childhood. Just think of kids needing to ask permission to go to the bathroom at school; sometimes, the teacher says no, right? What does that communicate to the child? It says: ignore what your body is telling you to do and focus on what I have deemed more important. Likewise, kids are often forced to eat when they don’t feel hungry and not allowed to eat when they do.
The result of this is that a huge chunk of people don’t even pick up on their body’s cues. They’ve accepted being exhausted or hungry as part of life and don’t even notice it anymore, not realizing that going without what they need is tinting all their experiences towards irritation and impatience.
Moving forward, whenever you notice you’re in a bad mood or find yourself annoyed with your partner (or your job, kids or to-do list), take a moment to ask yourself if there’s anything you need. Do you feel nasty and in need of a shower? When did you last eat? Do you have to go to the bathroom? Is any part of you sore? Do you need a nap? Address these needs before you address what’s frustrating you, and you’ll be shocked at the number of problems that simply stop existing in your life.
If you have a severely difficult upbringing in regards to your needs being met (either you had to pay a brutal price for getting your needs met or were neglected), this tip might take some work. If you’ve always suppressed your needs, it might be a good idea to set an alarm every few hours for a week. When your phone starts vibrating, take a step back and ask yourself if all of your needs are met. Yes, just like you’re playing Sims and looking at the Sim’s need bars. Slowly, your body will learn that it can tell you when it needs something.
Pay Attention To Your Partner’s Need Cues
Just like you, your partner has needs. Needs are non-negotiables, but they can vary slightly between people. For instance, some people might be more easily made uncomfortable by mess. Pay attention to how patient your partner is when the house is messy versus when it’s clean. Some people can easily function on less sleep than others. Do you feel like your partner is easily annoyed with you when they haven’t had much sleep?
This isn’t to say that you need to devote yourself to serving your partner’s every need at every moment, but it is incredibly helpful to be aware of the things that make life harder for them. This can help you prioritize on those days when it seems like there are ten million things to do. It can help you pause in stressful moments and address the root cause of the stress, perhaps pulling the moving truck over on a moving day and getting something to eat before you carry on. This might take the form of spending an extra ten minutes tidying the house when your partner is dealing with a tough project at work. People can only handle so much, and when their needs aren’t being met, they can handle very little.
Seek Objective Support
Sometimes, there are issues that meeting our needs can’t easily fix. No matter how compatible a couple is, there will be areas of conflict where neither person is willing to budge because they truly value the point of discussion. In these cases, sometimes getting outside, objective support can really help. Some couples therapy experts in Calgary shared research that states that 75% of couples who seek couples therapy found a tangible benefit. Sometimes the results come comically quickly, such as a couple realizing that both of them hate waking up early to go for a run but had been doing this for months because they thought the other person really enjoyed it. Other times it can help you work through deeply-rooted issues that connect to each person’s childhood and parental situation growing up.
It’s important that you don’t seek biased support when there are issues. Yes, venting to friends is okay, but your friends aren’t going to help you understand your partner’s point of view. And taken to the extreme, complaining about your partner on the regular creates an atmosphere where your friends want your relationship to end; it encourages revelling in bitter feelings rather than seeking solutions (complaining can easily turn into a downward spiral). It can also create group dynamic issues later on if your friends or family members dislike your partner. Try venting about an issue only once and then focusing on actions that can be taken to resolve the problem.
Gratitude seems to be everywhere these days, and that’s for a good reason. It truly improves people’s lives. Express gratitude when your partner does something you appreciate, even if it’s something small like refilling the dish soap dispenser on the counter. Likewise, internally, reiterate gratefulness for the things that you value in your relationship. When there are problems, it’s easy to see only problems. You know how it is when you’re mad at someone; suddenly, you can remember every teeny slight or annoyance that has bothered you in the last ten years. Likewise, when you take the time to focus on what you’re grateful for in your partner, you’re suddenly aware of all the good things they’ve brought into your life, all the laughter and sweet moments.
Employing the above tips can radically improve your relationship, not just with your romantic partner but with your friends, family members, colleagues and even strangers on the street. We like to pretend we’re invincible beings who can thrive on five hours of sleep and three bites of breakfast, but the truth is, we aren’t. There are things that can help us show up as the best versions of ourselves, but they require attention and effort.