I have years of heartbreak scattered in a trail behind me, like the socks and underwear that fall out of your pile of dirty laundry on the way to the laundry room. Much of it is from previous relationships with more than a lack of spooning wrong with them. However, a lot of it is from my current relationship. People tend to cringe when I tell them about the struggle of maintaining a long-term relationship and attempt to offer me guidance on how to breakup with my boyfriend.
I can’t help but laugh at this sentiment, as I struggle to find the right words to explain that growing pains are essential in the progression of a healthy relationship. Thus, I have compiled a list of 5 key aspects about my long-term relationship that may or may not benefit those looking to gain or strengthen a relationship.
1. No one is perfect.
Cliche, but undeniably true, this is the most important point I can make when it comes to maintaining a relationship. People walk around with the misconception that they must love everything about their significant others, from their scraggly toes to their road rage. You must choose your “nonnegotiables” and your exceptions. You must accept that there are going to be aspects of your significant other that are going to raise your blood pressure at times, and it is imperative that you take some time to remind yourself of the good. This is not inclusive to major character flaws such as abusive tendencies and dangerous actions, so don’t think that I am attempting to glue people to toxic partners.
2. Fighting is normal.
Too many people think that a healthy relationship is one without fighting. This is simply unrealistic and leaves very little room for the healthy expression of emotions. In a society that puts a negative emphasis on anger, it is sometimes difficult for people to accept that the expression of this emotion is actually healthy. However, what separates a healthy relationship from an unhealthy one is knowing how to argue. Sit down with your significant other and construct a list of ground rules for your arguments. Are you allowed to raise your voices? Are cuss words prohibited? Do you need a cool-off period? Do you need a safe-word for when one of you breaks a rule? These are all possible considerations when it comes to how you fight as a couple.
3. Change is good.
Many people fear the idea of their relationships changing, but the reality of it is, you both are going to evolve throughout your relationship. Embrace the change and use it as an opportunity to grow with one another. There is nothing more exciting than discovering new things with the person you love. So instead of dodging life’s many opportunities to change, grab your partner’s hand and dive in headfirst. You will both benefit from it.
4. Don’t live in the past.
We all have those negative memories that plague us every time we get into a tiff with our significant others. It would be so easy to just throw one in their faces like a grenade and win the battle. But this is counterproductive in the realm of creating a sense of trust and respect, two vital arteries that keep a relationship above ground. It violates the person’s trust in that you have been inauthentic in appearing to be past a previous argument or that you refuse to offer permanent forgiveness. Weaponizing past mishaps also manages to dissipate the existing respect you have for your significant other, because let’s be honest, it’s a low blow.
There is a reason why people say “Communication is key.” Many couples tend to lose that sense of connection after long periods of time together, as both partners settle into certain comfortable roles that result from familiarity. This sense of stability in the relationship is one of the best aspects of a long-term relationship. However, it can also cause assumptions in the realm of relational fluency, as partners tend to think that the things they have to say are superfluous and boring. This just isn’t true! Talk about how your days went, your thoughts, favorite T.V. shows or movies, and even potential date night venues. Don’t lose each other in the routine feel of a relationship. Talk!