One of the most common concerns I hear from couples that I work with in relationship counselling or marriage therapy is ‘Now that we’ve rebuilt our trust, improved our communication and become so much closer, what can we do to make sure we don’t fall back into our old relationship habits?’ or ‘Now that we’ve found happiness, how can we keep it?’
One of the first steps in counteracting our human tendency to revert back to the status quo is in having reasonable relationship expectations.
As a happy couple with new tools and strategies under your belt, you’ll still make mistakes and have many of the same disagreements and frustrations with one another as before, but it’s not nearly as bad as it sounds.
Even though some of your problems will remain or resurface; overall, your relationship peaks and valleys will even out to create a much more joyful, appreciative and loving dynamic between the two of you.
Your interactions will be kinder, more respectful and a lot more mindful. This is where your real power and influence in shaping your relationship and your life lies.
As you probably already know, it’s not what happens, but how you react to what happens in your relationship (and in your life) that makes the difference between dissatisfaction and happiness.
When you’re under a lot of stress you’ll naturally revert back to your old habits. In order to keep the stress down and keep your tools and strategies for relationship happiness top of mind, consider creating a lifestyle that allows you to minimize your stress.
In addition to having realistic relationship expectations and minimizing the stress in your life:
Use These 20 Steps –
- Get clear on what your life goals are as an individual and then as a couple.
- Create a list of activities you love doing together and do them frequently.
- Negotiate the amount of time you need together, alone and with others.
- Practice speaking up with each other and being more direct in your communication.
- Consider spending 15 hours of quality time together (without others) each week.
- Don’t overpromise and underdeliver; it’s always better to exceed expectations.
- Always remember that you’re on the same team and treat each other accordingly.
- With every interaction you’re either bringing your relationship closer together or further apart – make your choices count.
- Make your partner your #1 priority by spending quality time together and being attentive.
- Create rituals such as tea together every morning to honour your relationship.
- Include one another in making plans, not because you have to, but as a courtesy.
- Speak up with kindness and respect instead of letting resentment build.
- Agree on a humorous, safe word to stop arguments from escalating.
- Have the courage to be vulnerable and speak truthfully even if it feels bad.
- Acknowledge and have empathy for each other’s feelings and point of view.
- Provide reassurance, support and understanding with one another.
- Focus on the positive instead of succumbing to worrisome thoughts.
- Centre yourself and nurture your relationship connection before raising issues.
- Remember that it’s your approach that matters most – you can say anything as long as you express it with kindness and respect.
- Commit to being co-operative rather than competitive with each other.