Treating our relationships with respect is an important part of adulthood.
Many of us are quick to dole out advice if a friend finds him or herself in hot water relationship-wise. Yet often, when we are suffering similar strife, we play it off as normal. So when it comes to your relationship, what are the normal compromises, and what constitutes meanness or manipulation? Your partner should support you, but still be honest. Yes, your partner should get behind you and have your back in your ventures, be they school, work, or otherwise. However, it’s important to remember that expressing concern is okay too. If you want to quit your job to pursue a passion full time and your partner wants to make sure you’ve weighed all of the pros and cons, that’s not unsupportive, it’s just the opposite. Each time he or she asks the dreaded, “Have you thought about…” consider their motives. Are they really just trying to help? If so, give them a chance. Maybe they’re right.
Support your partner, but you should still be honest. It sounds obvious, given the above, but it can be difficult in practice. We all want to think of ourselves as kind and nurturing, but when the people we love make decisions that scare us, it’s easy to freak out. If your partner is considering making a decision you don’t agree with, before you say anything, ask yourself, “Am I about to say this because I am concerned, or because it’s not what I would do?” If the answer is the latter (which is totally normal) it might be best to not pipe up just yet.
Don’t let the important stuff fester. Should we say every thing that bothers us down to the most minute detail? Probably not, but we shouldn’t let big potential problems fester either. If there is something about or partners’ behavior that we don’t like, it may be a mistake to just hope it goes away or we’ll get over it. For example if your partner is terrible with money, but you hope to get married, this is something that should be discussed. Certainly not everything is a deal-breaker, and you are far more likely to clear hurdles when everyone has all of the information.
Let yourself be newly in love again. Yep- jobs, kids, parents, school, life. All of these things can seemingly make romance seem unattainable. So start small by altering your routine ever so slightly. Go to a totally new restaurant or deviate from the same weekend plans. Play music you like dancing to and see what happens. Enjoy (a publicly and legally accepted amount of) PDA.
Relationships evolve. That’s a good thing. It can be hard to keep up with the ebbs and flows, but remember that a relationship is like a muscle in your body, it needs care and it takes work to maintain.