Once you reach a certain point in life, a stark realization enters your awareness – just as Sisyphus was cursed to push the rock ad infinitum, so are we when it comes to maintaining our health, our success, and our relationships. The last, I assume, holds the most weight, since interpersonal communication can easily degrade, passion can go stale in a matter of months, and inertia can slowly run a partnership to the ground. This short article might just as well be an antidote – a guide on how to improve your relationship.
When it comes down to areas where we measure success on the long run, habits are usually the only mechanism thought which things either improve or degrade. So let’s go over a couple of things that might enrich, and ultimately improve your relationship.
Things do pay attention to as a couple in order to improve your relationship
While some of the problems can be fixed on an individual level (as we shell discuss below), many patters of behavior can be addressed at the level of a couple. Here are some ideas for making effective changes in both habits and mindset.
Don’t be full of expectations
No matter how good your relationship is, you will never be grateful enough if you habitually form high expectations. To accept the world for what it is can be a sign of maturity.
Young people nowadays are often told not to settle – so the formula for happiness is laid down wrong at the very gate to adulthood. To form high expectations, and demand from others radical change is a typical sign of immaturity. Relationships, believe it or not, require a healthy degree of acceptance.
Tell each other exactly what you want of your relationship
While this advice runs in opposition to the one above, it is still framed appropriately in order to support a mature relationship. Suppose that you are unsatisfied with your significant other, and you demand change. More often than not, this change is not specified, and the request is therefore vague.
Counter this with surgical preciseness whenever you are stating your requests. Here is how it goes and how it helps you to improve your relationship.
Clinical psychologist and internet sensation Professor Jordan Peterson unpacks this wisdom during one of his earlier lectures. He says, and I am paraphrasing loosely here, that we must be specific with every request towards a partner.
Suppose you arrive home, and your girlfriend is not excited enough to come and say hello. If you need that in your life, and you are the type of person who complains, it is very likely that you will demand from her “more attention, more aliveness, enthusiasm for the relationship…”
But as you might notice, these requests are vague. Instead, you want to be specific. You can say “I am the type of person who is insecure and cannot be happy unless you come at the doorstep and hug me whenever I come back from work”. Now this requires a fair degree of self-awareness, and Professor Peterson is obviously saying this in jest, but being specific gives your partner an opportunity to actually change their behavior.
But you have to be specific, and the request has to be in the realm of what your partner can realistically change about his or her behavior. Asking for more than what your partner is willing to offer is a recipe for disaster, and another form of high expectation.
Exercise together at least once a week
Women, it seems, show greater affection towards their husbands if they engage in physical activity as a couple.
One study published in Health Psychology says that wives in ET (exercising together) group showed significant increases in engagement in affectionate behaviors compared to wives in UC (usual care) control group. The study examined couples who coped with prostate cancer, but the findings are interesting enough as a support for a more broader hypothesis.
There are numerous ways to go about your exercise, and running might be the easiest one. You can also start a workout program like Beachbody on Demand at home, and sweat together in your living room.
Consume entertainment together
Movies bring about an avalanche of hypothetical situations about which you can discuss with your partner. In this sense, they offer novelty, entertainment, and opportunity to associate comfort time with your significant other. You can listen to music, watch documentaries, or anything else that moves you and entertains you.
Nurture your intimacy to improve your relationship
Make it a habit to be intimate. There is rarely an example where the catch 22 loop applies so perfectly. You have to dance Tango in order to enjoy it, but you also have to enjoy Tango in order to start dancing. Kick start the cycle, will ya!
You can also say nice things to your partner, thus showing your affection and positive feelings towards one another. There are many examples of sweet things to do for your girlfriend and the only thing you have to practice is being comfortable enough to utter one phrase at a time.
Set a date night
This may sound trivial, but look back at the past year – how many times did you get out as a couple, dedicated only to one another for the night? If you are skeptical, just make the damn arithmetic – say you get out on a date once a month. That’s 12 times every year. Now there is a number you can work with – is it low, high, or just about enough?
Things to do by yourself in order to improve your relationship
Remember, a good relationship requires two whole individuals. If you are not content with yourself, the chances are very high that you will not appreciate your partner. It takes self-love before you can love someone else, right?
Enrich your social life outside of your relationship
This may sound counter-intuitive. When partners diagnose a problem in their relationship, the attention is always turned inwards. But two whole persons make up for a better relationship, and our social circle plays a huge role in regards to our overall fulfillment in life. Besides, it is always great to bring a fresh perspective.
With meditation you become more aware of your emotions, and therefore start to communicate better with your significant other. All it takes is 10 to 15 minutes every day and you will see notable improvements.
Treat yourself better
Our most difficult problems often have trivial enough roots – like hunger, or lack of sleep. It is quite insulting to tell this to a person, but once biological needs suppress rational thinking, it is easy to miss the causal relationship. It is no wonder that problems tend to lose their urgency once we take a good nap.
Stop analyzing every little thing
Our psychological problems are often problems of living. So stop analyzing and start to lift yourself up one good habit at a time. Emotional turbulence can cloud our judgment, and we can easily become ignorant of the obvious. Analyzing won’t help as the emotional mind is easy to trick and self-deceive. Start changing your habits one by one. The list above is fairly generous!
Adopt a hobby
If your relationship is under the spotlight for longer than necessary, you might start to see problems where there are none. Instead, find something else that you can do. Get yourself a hobby, and spend your time elsewhere. The head is a terrible place to be stuck into for long periods of time. Sometimes, the best way to improve your relationship is not to work on your relationship at all!
Work out to improve your relationship
Self-confidence is an important factor in any relationship as most problems have roots in our own personal insecurity. Working out, believe it or not, can greatly affect your positive self-image, and in a sense reduce some of your obsessive, possessive and insecure reflexes.
Conclusion – how to improve your relationship
As you can see, there is plenty of opportunity to improve your relationship and actually move things the other way around. You just have to be persistent and become content with progress over the long run. Here is a brief recap of things that you can do as a couple in order to improve your relationship:
- Don’t form high expectations
- Be specific with every request fro your partner
- Exercise together at least once a week
- Nurture your intimacy
- Set a date night
- Consume entertainment together
Things you can do by yourself:
- Enrich your social life
- Work out
- Adopt a hobby
- Stop over-analyzing
- Treat yourself better
Relationships move slowly one way or the other, so just like Sisyphus, you might have to push for quite a while before reaching the top of the hypothetical mountain. But sometimes, the climb upwards is more rewarding than the summit itself.