People fall in and out of love all the time; it’s the way of the world. No matter how dreamy or wonderful a relationship may be at the start, human beings are human beings and the truth of the matter is that people change. As people change, love is also forced to evolve… or grow stale and fall away.
It’s not the small things that make a fairy tale ending become broken and bent. While things like vicious arguing, a dip in the frequency and intensity of physical relations, and household conflicts are certainly factors in the break-up process, these challenges are all symptoms of the disease which is the leading cause of love-rot: change. If your love is not solid at its core, then change will necessitate loss.
Remember always that love is cyclical; it will come and go and, when it returns, it will be stronger than it was when it left. If you and your partner can fight through the hard times together, you will be a more robust team as you face the years to come.
There are definitely strategies for strengthening your relationship which will be pivotal in the moments that try you the most. Here are a few of them, and ways to help you work on them with your partner in order to make your love last the hard times to come.
The number one factor in a good, solid, sturdy relationship is communication. This facet is much more complicated than it may seem; it is not just a matter of talking and listening. To be an effective communicator, you really need to be open to hearing what it is that your partner is telling you (even, and perhaps especially, if you don’t want to hear this message).
You also need to understand how to most effectively communicate with your partner. In moments of great stress or upset, it will be difficult to formulate a strategy for how best to say what it is you need to say. This is why practice is important: the more you practice good communication skills, the more ingrained they will become.
Don’t avoid subjects. If it’s a subject that is tough to discuss, acknowledge that it’s hard and forge forward together. If you’re uncomfortable, let your partner know that and see what you can do to change it.
Modulate your tone. If you feel yourself inclined to yell or raise your voice, ask yourself why. Take a breath, and see if you can’t steady yourself to help speak your message more clearly rather than yelling it incoherently.
Check your body language. Are you leaving yourself open to your partner, or closed off to all communication? What are you saying without your words that leads to the overall efficacy of your message?
You and your partner are the team taking on the world together. If someone is upsetting to one of you, then it’s upsetting (in some form or fashion) to both of you. Understand and trust that your partner has your back, and extend that courtesy to your partner in return.
This is especially important in public. While couples have disagreements all the time, when you’re out with friends is not the perfect opportunity to shame your partner into eating better, committing to a workout regime, or embarrassing them with stories of how they “messed up”. Be a team player; you want to make your partner look and feel as good as they can because they will certainly be looking to do the same for you.
When one of you messes up, work through the problem together. Joining forces, you will be twice as strong than if you try to tackle it on your own.
Remember how lucky you are to have this person in your life, and remember all of the positive things that they add to your daily existence. Remember that they aren’t someone (or worse yet, something) to be taken for granted. They don’t have to take care of you when you’re sick, they choose to do so. They don’t have to help shift the laundry around when you’re out with your friends, they do it out of love and respect for you.
Especially when times are tough, it can be easy to lose sight of the things that are good. Practice being grateful for all of the (small and large) things that your partner does for you which add to the richness of your life.
Love is not about what you receive; it’s about what you give. The joy and warmth of bringing happiness to your partner is what sits at the core of love. If you’re worried about love receding from your relationship, think about what you’ve given lately.
This isn’t just physical objects; it also comes in experiences. Have you planned a date night recently? Have you taken charge of cooking or household chores? Do you consider your partner’s feelings when making plans for the weekend? What have you given, and how can you give even more to bring that much more light to your partner’s heart?
Love well, love often, and love strongly. Only by doing so can you ensure that your relationship will last the years to come.