Everybody knows that sharing your life with another person is not easy. After the magical, passionate beginning stage fades, we are left with only love. And most of us know that love can be one tough cookie.
The reason love can feel so magical, and unlike any other emotion, is that it is just so complex. But it's this same complexity that can cause us suffering in relationships.
Of course, fighting is normal. There will always be some level of disagreement when you're so close to another person. But many couples settle into a routine where fighting becomes the norm. Establishing a pattern of constant fighting can definitely reach a very unhealthy level.
Here are 12 reminders on how to keep your fights healthy. They'll help you find a convenient middle ground where you and your partner can cultivate a lot more of the good stuff and shed some of the bad stuff.
1. If you can't proceed, just STOP.
This hint is deceptively easy, as it is a simple piece of advice but is so often ignored. Fights can be vicious cycles. So if you find that you and your partner are fighting incessantly and in circles, stop for a second and check in with yourself. Ask, "Is this conversation leading us somewhere productive?" If not, stop. Have an honest conversation with your partner about what your expectations for the discussion are, and hopefully you both can agree that productivity and is the goal.
2. Be OK with disagreeing (it doesn't mean you don't love each other).
You only wear black, they like colors; you like meat, they are a vegetarian; you like the Patriots, they like the Seahawks.
When you are with someone, always remember that you fell in love with them for some reason. Find that reason and always keep it fresh in your mind. You don't need to eat the same thing together every day to have a healthy relationship. Accepting the differences will make your love stronger and more sustainable.
3. Love your partner's flaws more than their good qualities.
OK, I admit: this is a rough and tough one. But I believe it to be one of the most important hints on how to have a longer relationship.
In short, it's too easy to like somebody's nice qualities and skills. What makes us fight usually are the flaws and mistakes. So if you can make a concerted effort to remember, respect and be patient about your partner's issues, you are saving yourself a lot of painful effort and resentment in the long-run. This is a process. But you can start now!
4. Embrace that literally everyone on earth is imperfect.
The ability to accept criticism is one of the main skills to have a happy life at large, not just a happy relationship. Evolving as individuals means being able to identify our flaws, accept them but also want to overcome them through hard work.
When you're in a couple, your partner will spend more time with you than anyone else, most likely. Therefore, they will notice your flaws, too. So accept their criticisms if they are productive; otherwise, you can't expect the same.
5. Remember that we all have bad moments.
Timing is everything. If you know that your partner is completely pissed because of a frustration from work or a family matter, why to choose to criticize or deal with a delicate topic right at that time? It can make you appear naive and insensitive and lead to more conflict. So realize that we all have crappy times, and accept them sometimes, rather than trying to push against things that are annoying you at an inopportune time.
6. Honor each day as a brand-new opportunity.
Every difficult conversation we'll have in life will be different. Often, especially in relationships, we find ourselves rehashing the same topics. But each day is different, and there will always be a change in variables.
We are unstable living beings; we have moods, emotions, feelings, intuitions, influences and many other things that affect us directly or indirectly. And we also have endless opportunities to clean the slate.
7. Accept that being wrong is cool.
Something that I've never understood is why people shy away so intensely from being wrong.
When you are wrong, you have the chance of improving and learning. Being wrong is what makes you succeed and excel at everything.
It is not only part of growth, but instrumental in it. Accept your desire to evolve. It's cool to be wrong. So be cool sometimes!
8. Apologize, and mean it.
Everybody knows the story of the boy who cried wolf. Well, imagine if you apologized every day as an automatic response to an annoying complaint.
People can sense, sooner or later, that you're not being authentic and honest. You don't want your partner to stop believing in your apologies, nor do you want to feel like you're losing integrity. If you've reached that point already, it's time to have a talk to set things straight.
9. Be romantic, very romantic (it's not dorky, but essential!).
It's easy to be romantic when things feel new and fresh. But now ask yourself this: how many times do I see couples spending more time on their phones than talking to each other while out to dinner?
I can almost guarantee that most of us can relate to this observation. But we also can relate to the desire to be touched, cared for, attended to. The best thing after a rough day is being covered in hugs and kisses.
10. Don't forget to say "I love you!"
Hearing "I love you," when spoken from the heart, is totally magical. Remind your partner every day that you love them. Of course, "actions speak louder than words" is a saying that often holds. So you can communicate "I love you" in whatever way works best for you, and your partner. But sometimes, we just need to hear those three magical words. Experiment!
11. Believe in the power of sex.
There's a saying that we look outside for what we don't have inside. And I'm not defending cheating. But I am emphasizing the importance of desire and lust in a healthy and happy relationship.
In other words, people not only need to feel loved; they need to feel desired. It's a sad feeling when you see a couple that makes you think, "Wow, I bet they haven't had sex for months." No one wants to be part of that couple.
12. Snuggle. It's free!
If you want to start the day off better or finish it with greater connection (and relaxation!), remember the power of snuggling. It's one of the best features of a relationship. Couples that snuggle more are happier: simply put, we need physical touch.
So use it and abuse it. There's never a down side to snuggling ... well, except for not wanting to get out of bed!