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10 Small Habits That Help You Maintain A Long-Lasting Relationship

10 Small Habits That Help You Maintain A Long-Lasting Relationship

Relationships are hard work. In the beginning, love flows freely between two people. Your every move is symbiotic, your bodies fit perfectly together, and you finish each other’s sentences. However, as time goes by, the space between you grows wider. Your bodies are back to back. You’re living in different worlds under the same roof.

Your busy life keeps you active all day. Your relationships with co-workers are more intimate than with your partner. Lunch dates are longer and happy hours more frequent. You’re so busy texting that you can’t remember the last meaningful conversation you had. When was the last time you laughed together in bed without your phones?

Soon, you doubt your love. Your eyes start to wander. You’re choosing your daily outfits based on what your co-workers will think. Your partner’s desires and needs are at the bottom of your to-do list. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little bit of commitment, nourishment, and care; you can keep your love as warm and cozy as it was in the beginnning. In fact, the longer you’re together, the stronger your love is.

You can keep your spark ignited by doing things differently. Your love is still there, it’s just hiding beneath the surface of your distracted and tech-filled life.

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Jump-start your day with these ten little habits that will make your love last forever.

1. Wake up every day and think, “What can I do to make you happy?”

It’s not that you have to spend your whole day thinking only of your loved one, but this question is more of a habit that locks in an attitude of prioritizing your partner’s needs over your own. You might think that’s unfair and say, “What about my needs?” However, if you put your partner before yourself, you’ll soon notice that (if you’re with a person who loves you too) you begin a back-and-forth give-and-take sharing quality into your relationship.

2. Pick your battles.

You don’t have to fight about everything that upsets you. Learn how to pause. Take time to choose to be wise. Ask yourself, “Is this really important, or can I let this one go?” Most of the time, people fight about small and unimportant things that aren’t worth fighting over. These petty fights cause distance and set off a negative thought process of doom and gloom. Don’t say things like, “Oh, this relationship will never work,” or “You’re such a selfish, inconsiderate jerk.” Once you tread this path, it just goes on and on. It will never end.

If you’re going to jump into battle, be sure it’s something worth fighting for. You can’t make it through a relationship without a fight. It’s unrealistic to expect that two people living together will always agree, never get their feelings hurt, and always be in control of their emotions. However, a long-lasting relationship knows that before, during, and after the fight; their love is stronger than the argument they’re having.

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“Many couples tend to equate a low level of conflict with happiness and believe the claim ‘we never fight’ is a sign of marital health. But I believe we grow in our relationships by reconciling our differences. That’s how we become more loving people and truly experience the fruits of marriage,” says Dr. John Gottman, a marital therapy researcher.

3. Practice empathy and compassion.

You’re not the only one who’s going through hard stuff. Your partner is too. Since you’re not together most of the day, you don’t know what’s going on in your partner’s life. Did something happen at work that upset them? Is there something they’re worried about that they haven’t talked to you about? Take a moment to think about the burden your partner is carrying. It’s also important to understand that your partner is not you. Your family history is different. If your partner is an only child, you can’t expect them to have the same family social skills as you do if you have three siblings. Allow for each other’s differences and respect them.

4. Appreciate each other.

It’s easy to fall into comfort zones of repetitive behavior. You take each other for granted. You have expectations. Yet, you forget to tell each other how much you appreciate the way he picks up his dirty socks, brings you a cup of coffee, or clears your plate from the table. You might appreciate the little things, but how often do you verbalize them? Everyone needs to feel appreciated. As Esther Perel explains in her TED talk, when you are free to imagine and appreciate and maintain a fresh perspective you can keep desire in a long-term relationship.

5. Follow your strengths.

Like a good business, a relationship needs job descriptions. Be in charge of the area that you’re stronger in. Admit that your partner has strengths. Allow them their area of expertise. Each player brings their strength into the relationship, building a strong team. As you should with any well-functioning team, be supportive. Notice when your partner needs a boost. Be encouraging, loving, and supportive. Even the strongest and smartest person feels insecure at times (although they might not admit it).

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6. Be present with each other.

Your busy life is filled with distractions. Your head is in your phone (and so is your partner’s). You’re going in one direction, your partner in another, and your relationship feels like two college friends sharing a dorm room. It’s improbable that anyone will put down their phone, but try to set aside phone-free time. Talk to each other again. Ask your partner how their day went. Share the events of your day. Take time to enjoy each other’s company. Most important of all, don’t forget to cuddle.

7. Stop Complaining.

Negative comments bring a dark cloud into your life. No one is perfect and neither are you. Appreciate what you’ve got. Don’t let what you want, ruin what you have. Small complaints affect your attitude. It’s easy to fall into a bad mood and make your partner feel worthless by constantly complaining about the “little” things that aren’t perfect. Never complain about your partner to a relative or a friend, unless you are in dire straits. In that case, seek professional help. Sharing your partner’s flaws with friends and relatives shows their negative traits. You are causing others to judge your partner without seeing the full picture. If you tallk about your partner behind their back, be certain that it’s only for you to work through your own emotions, decisions, and choices.

 8. Look for the good.

When times get tough, you become blinded with negativity. All you see is darkness. Everything is wrong and nothing is right. That’s when you have to disengage from the darkness, and think about all the good things your partner brings to your life. All those fabulous qualities are still there, they’re just harder to see. People are naturally judgmental. It’s a necessary life skill that often becomes abused in our relationships. It’s easy to become critical and make your partner feel that they are not good enough. Remember the good times, especially when times are tough.

9. Be the best of friends.

Share your lives. Talk about your worries and concerns. Be there for each other. Show up when you’re needed. No one knows you as intimately as your partner. After all, they are the person you share your bed with. Once you’ve found your soul-mate, you’ll know it. Once you experience this deep connection, make sure you work hard to maintain it.

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10. Let go.

When you hang on to old negative emotions, memories, and arguments, you bring the past into your present. Harbored resentments are damaging to your relationship. If you remember every time your partner said or did something that upset you, you will never feel free to experience the love of the present moment. You’re still living in the past. Forgive and learn to move forward. Don’t keep score of all the times you hurt each other. If you want your love to last, don’t keep a relationship scorecard.

Long-lasting love is hard work, but definitely worth it!

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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