My husband was my first long term relationship. I hadn't dated before I met him. Not because I didn't want to, but because I hadn't met anyone who "fit the bill." When we decided to "make it official," things moved quickly, and before I knew it we were married with two kids. (Not exactly, but you get the picture). Although moving quickly may not be everyone's relationship method of choice, it's how it happened for us. And in that short time, I've learned a lot about ways to ensure you stay happy in a long term relationship, because it isn't always easy.
The honeymoon phase fades quickly and, whether you're married or not, long term relationships take a lot of work. Between bills, budgeting, full time jobs, raising kids, and all of the other "adult" things couples take on, it's easy to put your partner on the back burner. After all, they'll always be there right?
Not necessarily. If you're both not intentionally working at your relationship, things can get messy quickly. But luckily, it generally doesn't take huge grand gestures of affection to stay happy in a relationship. It's the small, everyday things that should become habits eventually, that make the difference between a happy relationship and a miserable one.
1. Be Honest, Even When It's Hard
This is number one for a reason. According to an article from iMom, a resource for healthy and happy families, honesty is nonnegotiable. Creating habits of dishonesty in your relationship will cause trust issues and can only lead to bigger lies down the road. Do both of you a favor and establish honesty from the start.
2. Say Thank You For The Little Things
The power of these two simple words is profound. Its common for partners to feel under-appreciated in relationships. But even saying thank you for something as simple as unloading the dishwasher can go a long way.
3. Put Effort Into Your Appearance
Obviously, your partner loves the way you look naturally, but making sure to stay active and healthy will show your partner that you still care about their opinion. Besides, it never hurts to get a little bit extra fancy for them every once in a while.
4. Don't Bring Up Past Issues
Bringing up old fights, habits, or relationships will only cause unnecessary hurt. If an issue has been dealt with, leave it in the past where it belongs.
5. Have Friendships Outside Your Relationship
Having unrealistic expectations of your SO is only setting them up for failure. Your partner can't fulfill you in every way you need to be fulfilled, so it's important to cultivate other friendships so that you're not placing all of the responsibility on your SO.
6. Get Over The Small Things
Yep. Get over them. It's easier said than done, but sometimes issues just aren't worth the fight. So your SO forgot to put down the toilet seat, or she forgot to switch the laundry loads again. Do it for them and move on. Sometimes a "hey babe, can you please try to put the seat down next time?" can go a lot further than letting it fester and explode.
7. Be Kind
It's easy to take everything out on the person who is always there no matter what. If you had a rough day at work, don't take it out on your partner when you get home. If the toddler gave you a run for your money, tell your SO about your bad day, and then ask how theirs was.
8. Keep The Fire Burning
Text each other sexy messages. Do the sweet, flirty things you did when you first got together. And then have sex, obviously that's important too.
9. Choose To Trust
Trust, according to author and motivational speaker Mike Robbins, is granted not earned. He asks, "What if we granted our trust more easily? What if we were willing to make ourselves vulnerable, to count on other people in a genuine and healthy way, and to expect the best from others authentically?" We would certainly be let down at times, but isn't that better than a life that guarded, insecure and mistrusting?
10. Be Smart With Your Money
As unromantic as it sounds, Time magazine calls debt one of the biggest source of problems in millennial relationships. Have a plan to tackle your finances together and don't keep secrets about where you're spending.
11. Work On Yourself
Although it's certainly important to be selfless and put your partner before yourself, in another sense, self-care is extremely important in a healthy relationship. If you aren't taking time to do things you're passionate about or to refuel after a long day, you won't have the energy or desire to give anything to anyone else.