It’s Valentine’s, and there’s no better time to pause and evaluate the quality of our romantic relationships. Whatever your setup with your partner has been the past two years, it must have taken a lot more work to survive the pandemic.
How do you prevent the “bubble fatigue”?
Many people would say that their relationships are among the most important aspects of their lives. When people rank their values, family and love would be among the top priorities. Yet, when asked how much time they dedicate living each value, they often see a huge discrepancy between their espoused values and lived values.
What if we could give our relationships the time, attention, dedication and patience we give our work? Here are some ways to do that.
Treat your relationship like a business partnership. Align on a cocreated vision of where you want to be, how you want to be at a future date. Have a scorecard for measuring how to get there, and if you are getting what you need and want in the relationship. Track this on a regular and consistent basis. This could include financial goals, self-development goals and tracking of emotional contentment.
Love language. Understand each one’s give and receive love languages. From Gary Chapman’s book, we learn the five love languages: giving/receiving gifts, spending quality time, acts of service, words of affirmation and physical touch. Be able to articulate how you can feel loved, and how your partner feels loved.
Quantify the intangibles. Ask your partner how much they feel loved on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest. It’s a strange question to ask, and yet people are able to give a number to it. Set your base and a target, and work together on how to get there. For example, say, “I feel valued at a 3, and I want to feel it at a level 8 by . . . ”
Give feedback. Feedback is a scary word for many because of past painful experiences. But people receive feedback well, when given well. Feedback sounds like, “When I asked your opinion, and you said you don’t care, that really hurt me.” Statements like, “You’re so selfish” is a judgment. Don’t confuse the two.
It’s important to give feedback on what behavior you like to reinforce and what you don’t like. Many people leave their partners guessing—and then complain about not being taken care of.
Boundaries. Define your physical, time, and emotional boundaries. You might not want to be disturbed during the first hour of your day because that’s when your mind is at its peak. Explain it in a way that won’t feel alienating to your partner.
Schedule solo and couple activities. Being in touch with yourself is one of the best ways to be a loving partner. Find yourself separate from the relationship. How do you feel? What do you want? What’s bothering you? Schedule dates with your partner for you to be reminded of why you’re in the relationship together.
Request what you need. Many people assume that their partners should know what they need and hold grudges when these are not met. While they may love you, it doesn’t equate to being a mind reader. Most times, we can’t even understand why we feel a certain way or behave the way we do. Learning to articulate what you need increases the chances it’ll be given.
Celebrate differences. They say that what attracted us to our partners are the same things that would make us go crazy after a while. With the pandemic, the fuse for impatience might run out sooner. Always think about how your differences can make you grow as individuals and as a couple. Do you not like being wrong? That may be something you need to work on.
Communicate, communicate. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, as they say. So many good intentions have led to hurts and pains down the road. Don’t assume things as given. Learn to ask questions, to articulate your thoughts, to give words to your emotions.
“The story in my mind is . . . ” We react not to what’s happening but to our interpretation of what’s happening. Rather than speak angry words that can never be taken back, Brene Brown suggests using this phrase. Saying out loud your narrative will give more constructive things to talk about.
Give in a little. Like any healthy partnership, have non-negotiables and leave space for giving in to what’s important to your partner.
The quality of your relationship will impact greatly your success outside of it. Strive to make it the best thing in your life. —CONTRIBUTED