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Last Updated on May 29, 2019

19 Golden Pieces of Relationship Advice From the Experts

19 Golden Pieces of Relationship Advice From the Experts

Have you ever noticed that when you are having relationship problems, all of a sudden everyone around you is a relationship expert? Friends, family members, work colleagues – the stream of well-intentioned relationship advice seems to come at you from every angle. And most of the time the conflicting advice you receive can leave you feeling more confused than before you brought it up with any of them.

With all the different sources of information we have access to now, seeking advice can get overwhelming. So to make what can be a complicated area of life simpler, we have gathered the best pieces of relationship advice from around the world, and put them all in one place.

1. It’s Not Your Partner’s Responsibility To Make You Happy

How often have you heard people in relationships say “he just makes me feel so bad about myself” or “she makes me so angry”?

The truth is, nobody can make you feel anything.

It is up to you to accept responsibility for how you feel. This is an important part in owning your personal power. Amy Morin, licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist and author explains that nearly everybody has given someone else power over the way they feel, think or behave at some stage in their lives.[1]

She goes on to explain that one of the most effective ways to retain your personal power is to accept responsibility for how you feel.

“Don’t let other people’s behavior dictate your emotions (and) instead, accept that it is up to you to manage your emotions, regardless of how others behave.”

Not only are you giving away your own personal power when you outsource your happiness, you are also setting expectations of your partner that are unrealistic, and that will put a lot of unnecessary pressure on your relationship.

Now repeat after me:

“I am in control of my own happiness” and “My partner is in control of their own happiness.”

2. Effective Communication Is Not Just About What You Say

The most common issue couples have is miscommunication. With this comes frustration and disconnection resulting in a lack of intimacy and trust.

Tony Robbins explains that often people mistake communication for speaking or making small talk which is the underlying cause for unsuccessful communication in relationships. [2]

Robbins continues that everyone has different ways they give and receive information:

“Communication in relationships, at its core, is about connecting and using your verbal, written and physical skills to fulfil your partner’s needs – not just making small talk. Some people like to talk, some prefer touch and others are more visual or respond better to gift giving than an outward discussion of feelings. You probably know which communication style you prefer, but what about your partner’s?”

Effective communication in relationships is not only about being aware of how we send out information, but also how we receive it. Scenarios such as one partner thinking everything is fine and the other thinking “he/ she never listens to me” are all too familiar.

Active listening is integral in the communication process, this involves being fully present to your partner. Put down your phone. Turn off the TV. Get closer to your partner when they want to speak with you (no yelling to each other from another room).

Give your partner your full attention so they know they are your number one priority and that what they are saying matters. Also, clarify that you have heard them properly, and that you understand what they have said by repeating back what you have heard in your own words.

3. Identify Your Love Language

Not only do we all communicate in different ways, we all experience love in different ways. One person’s way of giving and receiving love can be completely different to their partner’s. Because we usually give love the same way we receive it (because that’s our love language), often we are not giving love in a way our partner likes to receive love / feel loved.

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Dr. Gary Chapman, speaker, counselor and author of The 5 Love Languages® series explains that we all experience love differently, and without understanding these differences, it’s easy to get it wrong when showing that you care.

Dr. Chapman calls the different ways of expressing and receiving love the “5 Love Languages.” They are Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.

His books and his free online The 5 Love Languages® quiz helps couples to understand each other. Each individual has at least one language that they prefer above the other. And once you and your partner know what each other’s love language is, it takes the guesswork out of how to give and receive love in meaningful ways.

4. R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Underpinning everything we’ve covered so far is one of the most important elements of any successful, healthy, long-term relationship — Respect.

The couple that holds the world record for the longest marriage, Zelmyra and Herbert Fisher (86 years) said the best piece of marriage advice they ever received was “Respect, support, and communicate with each other. Be faithful, honest, and true.”[3]

On the website loveisrespect.org, respect is explained in a thorough, easy to understand way:[4]

“In a healthy relationship, partners are equals, which means that neither partner has “authority” over the other. Each partner is free to live their own life, which can include deciding to share some aspects of their life with their partner. Respect also means that, while we may not always agree with our partner/s, we choose to trust them and put faith in their judgement.”

You may be wondering “what is the best way to show respect in a healthy relationship?” Loveisrespect.org clarifies that respect is not a one-off act or word, it is shown in how you treat one another on a daily basis, even in times of disagreement or conflict. “Fighting fair” is part of showing respect in relationships – being able to value and respect your partner’s feelings and opinions, even if they are different to yours.

Respect is NOT about controlling another person (aka your partner) or making them do what you want them to do. It’s about accepting and loving the other person and allowing them to express who they are and having the freedom to be themselves.

5. Have Clear Boundaries

Setting and sticking to clear boundaries can be the difference between a healthy, happy relationship and a toxic, dysfunctional relationship.

Loveisrespect.org exlplains that discussing your boundaries with your partner is an essential way to ensure that both parties’ needs are being met and that you each feel safe in your relationship. [5]

Some boundaries to consider are how much time you spend apart, when you will be physically intimate, who you will talk to about your relationship, what details of the relationship you are comfortable sharing.

6. Know Your Values

Tony Robbins explains the importance of values in his book Awaken The Giant Within:

“To value something means to place importance on it. All decision-making comes down to values clarification.”

Values bring energy and direction; they’re at the heart of what makes an individual tick. When you know what’s most important to you, making a decision is quite simple – individually, and as a couple.

So to start the process of working out your values, Robbins suggests answering one simple question “What’s most important to me in life?” then brainstorm the answers. Once you have a list of answers, arrange them in order from most important to least important (these are your “moving-towards values”).

The flip-side of the exercise is making a list of what Robbins calls “moving-away from values”. These are the things you actively avoid in life. Arrange these in order too. Seeing these will help you get clarity over your avoiding behaviours, and have greater clarity in your decision making.

Robbins’ next step is a big one, something most people may not have done before. Now ask yourself “What type of person do I need to be in order to achieve all that I want in life? In order to be that person, what would my values need to be? What values do I need to add / eliminate?”

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Think about all areas of your life when you answer these values questions, paying special attention to your relationship. What sort of person do you need to be in order to have the relationship you want?

7. Let Go of the Small Stuff

After the honeymoon period is over in a relationship, it can become easy for couples to slip into “the comfort zone”. In this comfort zone are things like laziness, lack of effort and nit-picking over things that you may not have even noticed in the blissful getting to know each other stage.

In their book “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff – in Love“, Dr. Richard Carlson and his wife Kristine Carlson explain how couples can avoid letting the little everyday irritations in life get to them, and how to appreciate each other. Their top tips include:

  • Let It Go Already – in summary, make the decision to forgive, forget and move on.
  • Throw Away Your Scorecard – don’t keep score of what you do and what your partner isn’t doing.
  • Allow Your Partner To Be Human – remember that you are in a relationship with a fellow human who is doing the best they can.
  • Learn To Laugh At Yourself – learn to laugh at yourself and diffuse potential arguments with the power of humour.

8. If You Can’t Avoid the Fight, Fight Fair

No relationship is perfect, and part of any healthy relationship is the ability to have discussions and air concerns with your partner to avoid “bottling things up” and potentially having outbursts about unrelated issues later on.

Another gold nugget from “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff – in Love” is ‘Don’t Fight Unless The Mood Is Right‘. When someone is angry, you are not going to be speaking to the person, you will be speaking to the mood. Giving each other space when one of you (or both of you) are in a bad mood, and coming back to discuss your concerns when feeling more level-headed is a more rational way to deal with disagreements.

The site Love Engineer with relationship experts from around the world has a list of Do’s and Don’ts when fighting (how to fight fair) including:[6]

  • Do not attack or give insults
  • No yelling, throwing, hitting or pushing
  • No blaming, criticizing and / or judging
  • No giving the silent treatment
  • Do take responsibility for what you can change or how you can improve the relationship
  • Ask for what you need in the relationship
  • Work on seeing the other person’s perspective.

9. Parents – Don’t Forget About Your Partner!

Relationships Australia, Inc. has a range of advice sheets to help with different aspects of relationships, with one focus area being Parenting and Relationships. Their sub-topic in this focus area is ‘Don’t forget about your partner’ where they explain the importance of finding time out for yourselves. [7]

If you are overwhelmed by the responsibilities of caring for children, working and all the other items on your to-do list, it’s easy to forget about your partner or start taking them for granted.

Their article suggests to try to find time for just the two of you, even if you are tired or “too busy.”

Which brings us to the next important piece of advice…

10. Make Time for Date Night

Drs. John and Julie Gottman of The Gottman Institute advise that date nights make relationships. And in case you’re wondering what a date night (or morning or afternoon) is, they explain this as a pre-planned time where the two of you take a break from your duties in and out of the home and spend time focusing on each other. The goal of this time together is to really talk and listen to each other, to reconnect on a deeper level. [8]

The Gottmans go on to list the most common date night obstacles, and how to overcome them:

TIME – Scheduling / blocking out time in your calendar and showing up no matter what.

MONEY – Dates don’t have to cost a thing. Going for a walk along the coast or in the bush, sitting in a park watching the world go by, or taking a trip down memory lane going through old photos – you are only limited by your imagination!

CHILDCARE – “Trade childcare with other couples (in your friends group). If that’s not possible, see if a trusted family member or close friend will help you in your quest to spend sacred time together. Look for inexpensive babysitters in your neighborhood, or ask friends for recommendations.” suggest the Gottmans.

11. Don’t Neglect the Importance Of Intimacy

Intimacy is something not always discussed openly, a topic often linked to sex can sometimes even be seen as a taboo subject. However, intimacy is much more than just physical intimacy.

Relationships Australia defines intimacy as:[9]

“Intimacy is about loving trust and support; accepting and sharing in your partner’s feelings, being there when they want to let their defences down and knowing that your partner will be there for you.”

According to Brené Brown, an expert on social connection, the key to unlocking intimacy is the ability to be vulnerable. Brown says that if you want to have deeper relationships, you have to remove your “armor” (the protective layer that a lot of us aren’t even aware we are wearing), no matter how vulnerable it makes you. [10]

An article in Psychology Today titled “The Real Secret To Intimacy (and Why It Scares Us)” also explores this connection between vulnerability and intimacy, explaining that knowing you are seen for who you are and loved all the same, and to give that to your partner may just be one of life’s most fulfilling experiences. [11]

This deeper connection, being able to be truly seen and loved for who you are, and being able to express all of you translates across physical intimacy, emotional intimacy, spiritual intimacy and intellectual intimacy.

12. Leave a Toxic Relationship

So far, we’ve covered advice relating to staying in a healthy, loving relationship. But sometimes relationships just aren’t made to last – toxic relationships. (If you are unsure about whether you are in a toxic relationship you may want to check out this article: 8 Signs of a Toxic Relationship)

Ending any relationship is not a pleasant process, however ending a toxic relationship has a whole new level of complexities and things to be aware of. You will need to be mentally, physically, emotionally and financially prepared to end it otherwise (as most research will show) you will continue to go back to the toxic environment.

However, according to Power of Positivity,[12] there are many ways to get out of a toxic relationship peacefully. We have listed the top 3 below:

  • Surround yourself with positive social support
  • Identify and express your emotional states
  • Find a lesson in the distress

13. Long-Distance Relationships Can Work

With so many people meeting online as well as a lot of people working away from their partner or family, it’s no wonder this is one of the most searched relationship topics. The old saying goes “absence makes the heart grow fonder”, and in the case of a long-distance relationship, never a truer word has been spoken.

Having a strong support network around you is important. The video below offers some helpful advice including communicating regularly and creatively, making plans together and having a goal (end date) for the long-distance element of the relationship in mind.

Let’s take a look at the video:

14. Maintain Your Sense of Self

If your entire world revolves around your relationship and you become all about the other person, chances are you are not taking time to nurture hobbies, friendships or taking care of yourself. Maintaining your sense of self in a relationship is critical, after all, your partner fell in love with you and everything that makes you unique.

Sharon Martin, licensed psychotherapist and co-dependency expert, explains that there are many ways you can maintain your sense of self in relationships including:[13]

“Knowing what you like and what matters to you; Asking for what you want, rather than always deferring to his/her wants; Not keeping yourself “small” or hidden to please others; (and) Staying true to your values”

15. Keep the Spark Alive

The main difference between a romantic relationship and a friendship is the physical intimate connection. The ability to maintain this aspect of the relationship can either make or break couples.

In an article published in Self, several couple’s therapists explain ways to keep the spark alive in a long-term relationship.[14]

From making a game out of it, to checking in with each other every day, all the way through to downloading apps designed to help reignite the flame in the bedroom, the opportunities to keep the embers of love burning are only limited by your imagination.

16. Regain Broken Trust

Dr. Magdalena Battles says it best that:

“Trust is the rock upon which all relationships exist. If that rock is chipped away by deceit, over time the foundation crumbles.”

She continues explaining that when something more serious happens such as infidelity in a marriage, and therefore the foundation that the relationship is built on, are broken in an instant. According to Dr. Battles, it’s not easy to rebuild trust, but it is possible.

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She suggests the COME FORTH method to overcome broken trust in a relationship.

For the offender:

  • C: Come clean
  • O: Open yourself emotionally
  • M: Make meaningful conversations
  • E: Engage in full transparency

And for the person who has had their trust betrayed:

  • F: Forgive
  • O: Open conversations
  • R: Request what you need to get back to a healthy relationship
  • T: Talk about the betrayal to a confidant or professional
  • H: Heal yourself to heal the relationship

17. Be Supportive in Stressful Times

We all know how easy it is to show our support when things are going well, but what about when things aren’t going quite so smoothly?

Robbins Research International has published just how important being supportive of our partner during stressful times really is:[15]

“When we routinely provide our partners with the emotional support they need, we can create a new depth of love in the relationship. Because as ironic as it may seem, when stress makes your partner more ornery, argumentative, or distant, that is when he or she needs you to show up the most.”

18. Be Patient (And Realistic)

Patience is an important element in a healthy relationship, especially in the initial stages when old habits and baggage need to be ironed out or let go.

While patience is a virtue, it’s also essential to be realistic. If your needs are not being met or your partner isn’t honouring their promises to you, it may be time to reassess whether the relationship is right for you.

Monica Parikh, attorney, writer and dating coach, points out that we need to look at our partner’s actions – do they match their words? Has your partner committed to counseling or made a commitment to change? Or are they simply saying what they think you want to hear to get you off their back?[16]

“You have only one life to live. Don’t waste it on a promise and a dream, especially absent a real commitment” — Parikh

19. Love and Fear Go Hand in Hand

Sheryl Paul, M.A., shares insight into her time as a love coach:[17]

“Love is the biggest risk we take. When we love, we open our hearts, our minds, our bodies, and our souls to another, and as such, nothing renders us more vulnerable to being hurt and to experiencing loss.”

Paul continues by explaining that fear isn’t always obvious and can show up as doubt, irritation, numbness or apathy towards your partner or your relationship. She says that when these feelings surface, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re in the wrong relationship; that it’s more likely you are in the right relationship and on a subconscious level, you are protecting yourself from getting hurt as you share love with your partner.

Final Thoughts

Being in a relationship can be the most challenging, and the most rewarding time of your life.

We have covered a lot of advice topics under the umbrella of relationships to help with the most common questions asked. By following this advice, turning towards your relationship and giving it the full attention it deserves, you will be pleasantly surprised with how deep your connection with your partner can truly be, and how fulfilled you will feel.

More Practical Relationship Advice

Featured photo credit: Candice Picard via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Amy Milnes

A relationship coach empowering people to create and maintain loving and lasting relationships.

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Last Updated on November 5, 2019

12 Powerful Habits of a Lifelong Learner

12 Powerful Habits of a Lifelong Learner

Formal education is something everyone has to go through to a certain degree, and the knowledge it offers isn’t always that practical in real life. Life long learning is how you improve as a person, bit by bit and day by day.

Life long learners recognize the importance and joy of growth so they never settle for what they currently know and always seek for improvement.

Here are 12 habits of people who value lifelong learning have in common – see how many of them you recognize in yourself.

1. They Read on a Daily Basis

Whatever problem or dilemma you currently face, there’s definitely at least one decent book that discusses it and presents a variety of solutions.

Reading is a great way to open up new horizons, train your brain and revolutionize your life. I can’t even count how many times books completely transformed the way I view the world, and it’s always a change for the better. Through reading, you can connect with successful people and learn from the lessons they share.

Life long learners love to get lost in books and do it regularly. Bill Gates knows that reading matters a lot; on his personal blog, he reviews plenty of game-changing books.

Due to technology, you can access a bookshelf of the wealthiest entrepreneur on this planet.

2. They Attend Various Courses

Whether it’s online or offline, there are countless courses you can participate in without spending a dime on it. These are great opportunities to connect with clever and like-minded people and learn from them.

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Because of the advanced technology, you can now gain knowledge from online programs, starting from coding through self-improvement to programs from top universities.

There are literally endless ways to thrive. What life long learners have in common is squeezing as much as possible out of these opportunities.

3. They Actively Seek Opportunities to Grow

Instead of spending your free time laying on the couch and watching TV, you prefer doing something creative and practical. You know every wasted minute is gone forever.

That’s why you’d rather practice your language skills with a native-speaker you’ve met, engage in local meet up or attend a class that teaches something you always wanted to learn.

Life long learners stay up-to-date with growth opportunities in their areas and participate in them frequently.

4. They Take Care of Their Bodies

“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” — John F. Kennedy

A clever mind combined with a body in a great condition is the best asset you can have. Our bodies were designed to run, walk, jump, swim, lift and much more. Leading a sedentary lifestyle harms both your physical and mental sphere.

Life long learners know the body is your temple. In order to make it flourish for as long as possible, they train regularly, move a lot and eat healthy.

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5. They Have Diverse Passions

Among Steve Jobs’ wise quotes, there’s one I like especially. It’s about connecting the dots:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” — Steve Jobs

Each dot is some event or skill in your life, and it’s only when you go through these elements that you know how to combine them into something great.

Having a variety of passions indicates that you love to progress. By practicing different skills, you give yourself an advantage over the rest of the people. During hard times, you are more likely to to act intelligently and solve your problems with less effort.

6. They Love Making Progress

If behind the efforts, there is passion and a deep desire to grow, your chances of success are way higher, compared to when you are forced to learn.

Life long learners love to experience the constant growth and improvement. The breakthrough moments help them to notice the impressive change that took place because of the learning process. Any milestone serves as a driving force for further headway.

7. They Challenge Themselves with Specific Goals

In order to keep growing, you clearly define your goals. Smart goal setting is one of the tools to ensure constant growth.

Since you love challenges, a difficult goal doesn’t scare you. Quite the opposite, it keeps you motivated and engaged.

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Research showed that precise and ambitious goals increase the performance of an individual. As we already agreed, life long learners are people who care about their performance, hence they never stop improving.

8. They Embrace Change

A complete change can lead to incredible results. This is especially visible on the example of successful companies.

Oftentimes, it’s that transformation which created space for their so-called overnight success. Twitter was originally created as an internal service to serve Odeo employees. Currently, it has over 300 million monthly active users and is considered the second biggest social network.

As a life long learner, you know a change can lead to extraordinary results so you welcome it and stay open minded about making a shift.

9. They Believe It’s Never Too Late to Start Something

Some people tend to think after a certain age, they are no longer allowed to start something and become successful. The truth is, it’s just a lame excuse not to leave the comfort zone.

Opposite to common misconceptions, there’s no wrong age to begin something. Henry Ford was 45 when he invented the Ford Model T car, which is considered as the first affordable automobile.

Sure, for some domains like becoming a professional athlete, starting early is required. However, to learn and improve for its own sake, you are never too old.

10. Their Attitude to Getting Better Is Contagious

“We now accept the fact that learning is a life long process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.” — Peter Drucker

There’s nothing better than to see your surroundings getting involved in what you actively participate in. Oftentimes, the best way to achieve that is to inspire them and be the example. As Gandhi would say, you need to be the change you want to see in the world.

As a life long learner, you are extremely passionate about the constant growth and people around you can sense that positive attitude. As a result, they start acting similarly.

11. They Leave Their Comfort Zone

Is it really better to step out of your comfort zone? The answer is always yes.

You always embrace discomfort as you know the path to success leads through hardship and countless obstacles. Instead of being afraid of facing them, you challenge yourself to overcome more and more difficult handicaps.

Every time you get out of your comfort zone, regardless whether you win or fail, you learn something new. That’s the part you love the most!

12. They Never Settle Down

“Knowledge is exploding, so you need to commit yourself to a plan for life long learning.” — Don Tapscott

A sense of being clever enough is something you don’t experience. Without a doubt, you appreciate what you already know, but that’s never a reason to stop. You just know once you stop learning, you lose the amazing privilege humans have, namely an ability to a never-ending intellectual development.

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Featured photo credit: Christin Hume via unsplash.com

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