6 Must-Have Tips to Build and Maintain Your Relationship

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Building and maintaining a solid relationship can be hard.  Every relationship has its bumps in the road.  This should be expected.  The key is to not let the bump through you off course.  Some bumps are small, like a speed bump in a school zone.  Others are like those pot holes in the road after a really bad winter.  You know, the kind where your seat belt gets tight when you hit it, you lose a hub cap, and even bump your head.  But, regardless of the size of the bump, the goal is to stay on the road.

 

For some couples, there are other life occurrences, whether expected or unexpected that take time away from relationships.  It could be taking care of aging parents, a sick family member, or like in our case, a child with special needs.    All of this can be a stressor on any relationship. So, how can you keep the spark alive with all these gusts of wind trying to blow it out?  Here are 6 tips that my husband and I use to keep our relationship going in the right direction:

 

  • Check in with each other. Every so often, my husband and I ask the other person how they are doing.  I don’t mean, the empty greeting we give each other where you don’t want a real answer.  We simply say something like “hey, I am just checking in with you.  Are you good?”  When I first started asking him this, he was a little confused.  “What do you mean am I good?”  I explained to him that I wanted to know how he was feeling in the relationship.  Was he happy?  Was there anything that he needed to discuss, or get off his chest?  Doing this gives the other person an opportunity to talk about anything that may be bothering them.

  • Don’t go to bed angry. This is a rule that my mother told me years ago.  This does not mean that my husband and I solve all disagreements before we fall asleep.  There are times when a solution or compromise cannot be met in one evening.  What it does mean in our house, is that regardless of how angry we are, we kiss, say I love you, and go to sleep together in the same bed.  I know it is cliché’ but, tomorrow is not promised to anyone.  I would hate for my last words to my husband to be words of anger.

  • Let it go.  Often times, the arguments, or disagreements we have as couples are minor little things that get blown out of proportion.  Ask yourself before you start WWIII, in 5 years or 3 years,  or even next month, will I even remember what this argument was about?  If the answer is no…then let it go.

  • Go on scheduled dates. I am always surprised when I talk to married people who say they do not go on dates.  I understand that life gets in the way, but you must make time for your relationship.  Now that we have a toddler, I really understand.  We are usually so sleepy by Friday night; the last thing we are thinking about is a romantic evening.  I must admit, that we do not do it as much as we used to before our daughter, but it still happens.  Date night does not have to be fancy.  Check out this list of dates on a dime that you can still do with your spouse.

 

  • Communicate with each other. We are all guilty of saying to someone in our lives, “well, I did not mean it like that”.  The truth is, what you meant is important, but so is what the person heard.  Liken it to talking in all caps in an email or a text.  We all know that is supposed to indicate that you are yelling at the person.  Well, it could be that the caps-lock was mistakenly on, and the person sent the message without realizing it.  It doesn’t matter initially that they did not mean to yell.  What matters is that the person receiving the message thinks they are yelling, and may respond accordingly.  Communicating with your partner is kind of like that.  Be clear with what you say.  Don’t say things out of anger that you do not mean.  If you need to take some time to clear your head and get your thoughts together that is fine.  But make sure the other person knows this.

 

Early in our relationship, when we were dating, it quickly became evident that my husband and I dealt with conflict differently.  I wanted to hash it our right then.  I wanted to say what I needed to say, have him say what he needed to say, and move on.  My husband is the exact opposite.  It can take, what seems to me, an eternity to speak his mind.  This would just make me angrier.

 

One day, when we were not in an argument, I asked him why he did this.  He explained that he liked to think about the situation before he spoke.  He wanted to evaluate it from all sides and process things from different angles.  I explained to him that I liked to say it, and get it over.  Our communication styles during an argument were total opposites.  But since we talked about it outside of a disagreement, we knew where each other was coming from.

 

This is not something that worked it self out overnight.  It took years to get comfortable with the other persons style, at least for me.  To this day, my husband still takes longer than I would like to discuss issues sometimes.  But, he has been able to shorten his processing time, because he knows I need to get it out.  On the other hand, I have learned to slow down, and process my thoughts too.  So, we both have changed a little so that we now have a communication style that works.

 

  • Set Rules. Now this may sound silly, but hear me out.  One day, years ago, early in our relationship, I called my husband a name in the middle of an argument.  He was furious.  He shut down, and didn’t talk about the situation anymore.  I honestly don’t even remember what the fight was about (should have followed my own rule #3).  But what I do remember is that maybe a week after the argument, when all was well between us, my husband brought it up.  He simply said, you know, I never call you out of your name, and I never will.  I don’t like that. Please don’t do it again.  I know we were arguing, but when you did that; I couldn’t hear anything else you had to say.  Let me tell you, I felt so bad and ashamed when he said that, because he was right.  He has never called me out of my name.  I tried to rationalize it at first.  I mean I obviously, didn’t really think he was an *insert expletive*.  There was no rationalizing it.  He was correct.  And you know what?  We have had some heated “discussions” in our day, but I never did this again because through it all I love and respect him.

 

It is easy to fall into a routine, and forget about your relationship.  We get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, do homework with the kids, and go to soccer practice and then bed.  Then we are up doing the same thing again the next day. Stop.  Take a break from your normal routine and try these tips to create a happier relationship.  What do you have to lose?

 

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