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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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Published on September 23, 2020

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

I don’t know about you, but many times when I hear the word negotiate I think of lawyers working out a business deal or having to do battle with a car salesman to try to get a lower price. Since I am in recruiting, the term “negotiation” comes up when someone is attempting to get a higher compensation package.

If we think about it, we tend to negotiate almost every day in a wide variety of things we do. Getting a handle on the important negotiation skills can be incredibly beneficial in many parts of our lives. Let’s take a look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

What is Negotiation?

First, let’s take a look at what negotiation is. Put simply, negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process in which compromise or agreement can be reached without argument or dispute.

Anytime two people or sides disagree on something, they are almost always looking for the best possible outcome for their side. This could be from an individual’s perspective or someone representing an organization.

In reality, it’s rare that one side gets everything they want and the other side gets nothing that they are seeking. Seeking to reach a common ground of sorts where both sides feel like they are getting most of what they want is the key to being successful and maintaining the relationship.

Places We Negotiate

I’ve mentioned that we negotiate in just about all phases of our life. For those of you who are shaking your head no, I invite you to think about the following:

1. Work/Business

This one is the most obvious and it’s what naturally comes to mind when we think of the word “negotiate”.

When you first started at your current job, you might have asked for a higher salary. It could be that you delivered a huge new client to your company and used this as leverage in your most recent evaluation for more compensation. If you work with vendors (and just about every company does), maybe you worked them to a lower price or better contract terms.

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In recruiting, I negotiate with candidates and hiring managers all the time to land the best talent I can find. It’s very common to accept additional work with the (sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken) agreement that it will benefit your career in the future.

Recently, I took over a project that was my boss was working on so that I would be able to attend a conference later in the year. And so it goes, we do this all day long at work.

2. Personal

I don’t know about you, but I negotiate with my spouse all the time. I’ll cook dinner with the understanding that she does the dishes. Who wants to mow the lawn and who wants to vacuum and dust the house?

I think we should save 10% for retirement, but she thinks 5% is plenty. Therefore, we save 8%. And don’t even get me started with my kids. My older daughter can borrow my car as soon as she finishes her chores. My younger daughter can go hang out with her friends when her homework is done.

Then, there are all those interactions in our personal lives outside our homes. The carpenter wants to charge me $12,000 to build a new deck. I think $10,000 is plenty so we agree on $11,000. I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his snowblower in the winter if I invite him over the next time I grill steak. And so on.

3. Ourselves

You didn’t expect this one, did you? We negotiate with ourselves all day long.

I’ll make sure I don’t skip my workout tomorrow since I’m going to have that extra piece of pizza. My spouse has been quiet the last few days, is it worth me asking her about, or should I leave it alone? I think the car place charged me for some repairs that weren’t needed, should I say something or just let it go? I know my friend has been having some personal challenges, should I check in with him? We’ve been friends for a long time, I’m sure he’d come to me if he needed help. I’ve got the #4 pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, should I choose a running back or a wide receiver?

Think about that non-stop voice inside your head. It always seems to be chattering away about something and many times, it’s us negotiating with ourselves. I’ll finish up that report that the boss needs before I turn on the football game.

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Why Negotiation Skills Are So Important

Put simply, negotiation skills are important because we all interact with other people, and not only other people but other organizations and groups of people as well.

We all rarely want the same thing or outcome. Most of the time a vendor is looking at getting you to pay a higher price for something than you want to spend. Therefore, it’s important to negotiate to some middle ground that works well for both sides.

My wife and I disagree on how much to save for retirement. If we weren’t married it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d each contribute how much we wanted to on our retirement funds. We choose to be married, so we have to come to some agreement that we both feel comfortable with. We have to compromise. Therefore, we have to negotiate.

If we each lived on a planet by ourselves, we would be free to do just about anything we wanted to. We wouldn’t have to compromise with anyone because we wouldn’t interact with anyone. We would make every choice unilaterally the way we wanted to.

As we all know, this isn’t how things are. We are constantly interacting with other people and organizations, each one with their own agenda’s, viewpoints, and opinions. Therefore, we have to be able to work together.

6 Negotiation Skills to Master

Having strong negotiation skills helps us create win-win situations with others, allowing us to get most of what we want in conjunction with others around us.

Now, let’s look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

1. Preparation

Preparation is a key place to start with when getting ready to negotiate. Being prepared means having a clear vision of what you want and how you’d go about achieving it. It means knowing what the end goal looks like and also what you are willing to give to get it.

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It also means knowing who you are negotiating with and what areas they might be willing to compromise on. You should also know what your “bottom line” is. By “bottom line” I mean what is the most you are willing to give up to get what you want.

For instance, several years ago, I decided it was time to get a newer car. I say newer because I wanted a “new to me” car, not a brand new car. I did my research and figured out what type of car I wanted. I decided on what must-have items on the car I wanted, the highest amount of miles that would already be on it, the colors I was willing to get it in, and the highest amount of money I was willing to pay.

After visiting numerous car dealerships I was able to negotiate buying a car. I knew what I was willing to give up (amount of money) and what I was willing to accept, things like the color, amount of miles, etc. I came prepared. This is critical.

2. Clear Communication

The next key skill you need to be an effective negotiator is clear communication. You have to be able to clearly articulate what you want to the other party. This means both clear verbal and written communication.

If you can’t clearly tell the other person what you want, how do you expect to get it? Have you ever worked through something with a vendor or someone else only to learn of a surprise right at the end that wasn’t talked about before? This is not what you would call clear communication. It’s essential to be able to share a coherent and logical vision with the person you are working with.

3. Active Listening

Let’s do a quick review of active listening. This is when you are completely focused on the speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond appropriately. This is a necessary ingredient to be able to negotiate successfully. You must be able to fully focus on the other person’s wants to completely understand them.

If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you may miss some major points or details. This leads to frustration down the road on both sides. Ensure you are employing your active listening skills when in arbitration mode.

4. Teamwork and Collaboration

To be able to get to a place of common ground and a win-win scenario, you have to have a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

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If you are only thinking about yourself and what you want without giving much care to what the other person is wanting, you are bound to wind up without a solution. The other person may get frustrated and give up if they see you are unwilling to meet them halfway or care little for what they want.

When you collaborate, you are working together to help each other get what is most important to you. The other upside to negotiating with a sense of teamwork and collaboration is that it helps create a sense of trust, which, in turn, helps provide positive energy for working to a successful conclusion.

5. Problem Solving

Problem-solving is another key negotiation skill. When you are working with the other person to get the deal done many times you’ll face new challenges along the way.

Maybe you want a new vendor to provide training on the software they are selling you but they say it’s going to cost an additional $20,000 to provide this service. If you don’t have the additional $20,000 in the budget to spend on the software but you feel the training is critical, how are you going to solve that problem?

From what I’ve seen, most vendors aren’t willing to provide additional services without getting paid for them. This is where problem-solving skills will help continue the discussions. You might suggest to the vendor that your company will also be looking to replace their financial software next year, and you’d be happy to ensure they get one of the first seats at the table when the time comes if they could perhaps lower the pricing on their training.

There’s a solution to most challenges, but it takes problem-solving skills to work through them effectively.

6. Decision-Making Ability

Finally, having strong decision-making ability will help you seal the deal when you get to a place where everyone feels like they are getting what works for them. Each step of the way you can cross off the list when you get what you are looking for and decide to move onto the next item. Then, once you have all of your must-have boxes checked and the other side feels good about things, it’s time to shake hands and sign on the dotted line. Powerful decision-making ability will help you get to the finish line together.

Conclusion

There you have it, 6 effective negotiation skills to master to lead a more fulfilling life. Once we realize that we negotiate in one form or another almost every day in every phase of our lives, we realize how critical a skill it is.

Possessing strong negotiation skills will help you in nearly every one of your relationships at both the workplace and in your personal life. If you feel your arbitration tools could use some sharpening, try some of the 6 effective negotiation skills to master that we’ve talked about.

More Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

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