While Valentine's Day is a nice excuse for date night and flowers, it shouldn't actually mean anything significant to you if you are already in a long-term, committed relationship. Valentine's Day is just another one of the 365 days a year when you get to express your love. With that in mind, below are my 8 tips for maintaining a happy and healthy relationship all year round.
- Respect each other. The way you speak to each other will effect your entire relationship. Simple changes to wording and tone of voice can make all the difference in a conversation!
- Listen. Let each other speak and truly listen. Sometimes all a person really needs is someone to hear and respect their feelings, and your significant other should be your system of support (and vice versa). Unless you are asked to give your advice, don't try to solve someone else's problems. Injecting your uninvited opinion into the conversation could come off patronizing ("This could all be fixed if you would just..."), when you should be focused on listening and providing support.
- Make promises and keep them. Be where you say you're going to be and do what you say you'll do. Most importantly, trust that your significant other will do what they say they'll do, too. A relationship where you don't have confidence and trust in one another is torture. Doubt is a slippery slope that leads to an unhealthy place. For example, if you don't fundamentally trust that your significant other is faithful, then you'll always be looking for signs of guilt. If those thoughts are even crossing your mind, you need to seriously ask yourself why.
- Stay on the same side. That's not to say you'll never argue. Every healthy relationship has some arguments here and there, but the difference is how you both handle it. Arguing about differing opinions on an issue is normal, so long as the issue isn't a dealbreaker. The red flags start to come up when you start to personally attack one another. Don't save past arguments as ammo for the future ("This is just like that one time...") and don't keep score ("You always do this!"). If you do, then you've already given up. Be honest about your feelings. And once you resolve a disagreement, it shouldn't be exhumed again.
- Enjoy the little things. Be playful! Enjoy each other's company. Have you ever done something nice, for no other reason than just to see them smile?
- It's a two-way street. Don't expect the other person to always be the hero. A healthy relationship takes some give & take. Take turns paying for dates. Don't talk without ever listening. If there's something you want, let the other person know (no one can read your mind)! Without compromise, someone will always be resentful.
- Be patient. Even when you might be frustrated, you need to give one another space to make your own choices and mistakes. It's easy to assume that someone close to you will always be there, but don't take your significant other for granted. If you wouldn't snap at a coworker, a friend or a stranger, then why would it be okay to snap at someone you love? There's a difference between being yourself and making a knee-jerk reaction you might later regret, simply because you're comfortable with one another.
- Adapt. It's a part of life; people change over time. You need to be aware of how both of you are growing and changing. Are you on the same page? If not, are you willing to work on your differences? Would you call it quits at the first sign of change? On the other hand, while you need to find & maintain a balance with one another, you also want to stay true to yourself. Don't change who you are for someone else if you don't want to.