How To Strengthen A Relationship
For those of you who have been following me for a while will know that Harry and I have been together for almost 5 years now. We have had many ups and downs, been on more than a couple of adventures and have had so much fun together. I realised today that we have not had a fight in over 10 months. There is a reason for that and I thought I would share it with you all, in case you’re struggling with some relationship issues right now. This is how to strengthen a relationship based on how I strengthened mine.
Every couple fights. We all get annoyed at one another. Say things we don’t mean. But that’s not how we want it to be. It can feel easy to fall into a trap of getting annoyed, sharing your frustrations and causing a fight. That’s how it was for us at one stage. All I wanted was for things to be good all the time. I thought that was just wishful thinking but I soon learnt that a relationship doesn’t have to be like that. You really can be happy all the time.
Look at yourself first, don’t blame
Okay, so this is a hard one. How easy is it to blame the other person for how you feel or for a situation you’re in? Not just in relationships, but in life, it’s always so much easier to blame the other party than it is to accept responsibility. But if you want to stop fighting with your loved one, you need to look at yourself.
Think about what’s not making you happy. Is it something about yourself? For me personally, 90% of our arguments were because of me. Of course, I would have never admitted that before but it’s true. I was struggling with depression and stress at the time, and I started taking it out on Harry.
It can be a very hard thing to admit but if you’re serious about and you want to strengthen your relationship, you need to swallow your pride and look at yourself.
There are times when it’s not you and it’s them. I mean, I said I caused 90% of our arguments. Your partner may do something to annoy you. Maybe you feel like they’re taking advantage of you or not showing enough appreciation. Maybe they’re taking their frustrations out on you. The common thing to do here is to call them up on it, leading to a fight. I’ve found that the best way to deal with this is to think before you speak and have a conversation rather than make accusations. What you’re saying may be true but if you go in guns blazing, of course, they’re going to jump on the defence.
I’ve learnt that a better way is to approach an issue like this from a calm standpoint, and have a conversation rather than make accusations.
Listen, for real
How often do you say something and 5 minutes into the conversation you realise your partner isn’t listening? Or maybe you’ve asked them about 5 times to do something and it still hasn’t been done? Now, think for a moment. How many times have YOU done those things?
It can be easy to fall into distractions or simply stop listening if you think your partner is saying something that’s not interesting or accurate, but taking the time to actually listen to the words coming out of their mouth makes all the difference. With listening also comes communication. You should aim to calmy and rationally respond to your partner, even when they’re doing something to annoy you. It comes down again to thinking before you speak while actually listening and taking into account their feelings before you respond. These things sound simple but simple changes make the biggest differences.
For me personally, listening was a big thing for me. My mind is always buzzing and I can get easily distracted by what I’m doing. I didn’t even realise it but I stopped listening to what Harry was saying, and obviously, that didn’t make him feel good. Since deciding to be more present in the moment and actually listen to every part of what he says, things have gotten better.
What do they need? What do you need?
We are all different. We all need different things in life, and from other people. The key to a fight-free relationship for myself and Harry was finding out what we each needed from one another.
There are lots of videos and books that act as a guide to strengthen a relationship. A lot I’ve found talk about knowing your love language in a relationship, and this is kind of what I’m talking about. You first need to understand what you need from your partner as an individual. Do you respond well to random gestures of kindness? Are you in need of more affection? Are they the ones who really need to listen to you? If you’re not sure, I would suggest doing some digging to uncover what you need.
Once you know what you need from your partner to feel loved, you need to find out what they need. The best way is to ask them. Simply ask; “What do you need in a relationship to feel loved?”
The idea behind this is that we show love by doing the things that we actually respond to. If something makes you feel good, you’re obviously going think it’ll make your partner feel good too. But you’re different. They might respond to something completely different. Figuring this out and communicating it will allow you both to show your love and appreciation for one another more effectively.
Lead by example
It’s hard to change a relationship all by yourself. I totally get that. But you also don’t want to force changes on your partner or tell them to start acting a certain way, it’s not going to play out the way you want it to. When reading an article about how to really inspire people, the author wrote about leading by example. When people see you doing things differently and more importantly, they see the effect of this, they’re naturally going to follow.
It might be hard to stay calm when an argument is about to start or listen fully without getting the same treatment in return. But by leading by example and implementing these positive changes into your relationship, your partner will catch on and things will start to change. When you’re trying to strengthen a relationship, you’re going to need patience. But if you’re really committed to improving your relationship, you will be able to stick it out.
It took Harry and me a while. At first, it was really hard to listen fully and stay calm when something annoyed me but I was patient. I started listening, treating him differently and showing him love the way he best responded. I also sat down and explained in a very nice way, the things that he did to upset me in the past. And while our relationship was never bad, doing all of this made it even better and as a result, it’s been almost a year since our last argument.
Relationships aren’t something I generally write about but I got inspired. I wanted to share some of the strategies I learnt along the way that have really worked for me, in the hopes that they work for you too. If you’re after my regular content, my blog is filled with health and wellness!
If you have anything to add to the comments, be sure to do so! I would love your input Holistic Fam xx