Love is blind. Love is patient. Love means never having to say you’re sorry.
We’ve all heard these clichés. We hear them in songs, watch them in movies and read them in advice columns. These clichés sound good, but quite often they don’t translate to the realities of what we all deal with in relationships. The truth of the matter is that there is only one true saying that applies to every relationship… love takes work.
Over the course of a long period of time, relationships have many ups and downs. There will be good times and bad times and all the times in between. During those ups and downs and middles, there will always be one thing that remains consistent and that is your relationship is going to take work.
Having a healthy relationship is key to maintaining positive mental health. If you’re in an unhealthy relationship you most likely will be feeling worried, unhappy, trapped and down on yourself. This might see you slip into bouts of anxiety or depression which can lead to longer term health risks such as high blood pressure, diabetes and inflammation . Being in a healthy relationship can go a long way in maintaining a positive mental health.
So, let’s take a look at just some of the things you can do to make your relationship better.
Cut the criticism
First of all, chill on the criticism. If you’ve been in a relationship for a long period of time there’s a good chance you’re both comfortable with one another and feel that you can say whatever may come to your mind. As human beings, we’re more inclined to highlight things that we’re not happy with rather than what we are happy with. This can lead to a situation where you may find yourself criticising your partner more than you praise them, which can cause them to feel powerless. Make sure you mention all the things your partner does right as well as the things that can improve.
You’re not perfect
When you were growing up you probably heard people say you’re not perfect. They’re right. Nobody is perfect. There will be times in your relationship when you’re both having an honest conversation and providing each other with feedback. It’s important that during these times you can both give and receive feedback honestly and openly.
When you’re having these types of important discussions, do your best to try not to interrupt. That can be hard, especially if you’ve got all these things on your mind or if you’re hearing things you don’t want to hear, but trust us, hearing your partner out will create a positive experience that will encourage your partner to truly listen to your point of view.
It’s okay to disagree
You can think one thing, your partner can think another and as long as you reach a mutually beneficial solution that’s okay. So often in relationships we revert to trying to convince, debate or persuade the other side to believe what we believe. At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is getting to a place where you can both agree on the next positive step and solution.
Keep your cool
No issue in a relationship has ever been resolved if one of the partners loses their cool. Anger, yelling and being defensive might make you feel better, but it doesn’t help to solve the problems at hand.
To help keep your cool, have a think about what your anger triggers may be. We’ve all got things that can trigger the ‘mean gene’ in all of us. Typically, we react negatively due to some experience we’ve had in the past. If you can identify what some of your triggers are, you can begin to resolve those issues, find strategies to reduce their impact and reduce their hold over you.
Love takes work, communication and effort. That doesn’t mean it can’t be fun as well. If you’re both busy with work and life and everything in between, then schedule a date night where it’s just the pair of you or try and play with your schedules so some of your time can overlap.
No matter what you do, remember, try and have fun with each other.
References Chronic illness and mental health. NIH.
If you’re concerned about your relationship, talk to a professional counsellor on 1300 096 269. It’s free to people in north, western and central Melbourne and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Want to know where else you can get help? Find out how to access additional community support.
The CAREinMIND blog is delivered by On the Line. The views in each post do not necessarily reflect those of North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network.