Relationships are dynamic situations, where we experience the highs and the lows, with our budding, but lifelong partners. We reach the highest of highs, like the throes of unadulterated compassion, where we fall into one another’s arms for security and comfort. Sometimes, we can also reach rock bottom, where we hit a temporary patch of turbulence, where arguments run rampant, and you need some time to yourself.
At the end of the day, most relationships go through their highs and lows. That’s just a part of life. However, what do we do about the instances where we aren’t so sure that can run back to our partners?
As an aspiring therapist who works and volunteers closely with people across the lifespan, including couples, I’ve had many opportunities and instances to address individuals or groups who are often distressed or overwhelmed on what they should do.
When you’re finding yourself hitting a snag in a relationship, there is a multitude of strategies or ideas that you might consider doing. However, the sheer intensity of strategies and tips out there within the big and wider world can be pretty overwhelming. While the answers towards getting out of a rocky situation are not so simple, here are some general ideas to make your relationships stronger.
1. Cooperate and Compromise
As born and bred biological beings, we are quick to socially compare ourselves to others, often undermining our self-worth or the worth of others in the process. If someone else is seemingly doing a lot better than you, perhaps you think things are terrible. The reality is that your life is reasonably alright. You’re doing a lot more for yourself than you realize and it often takes a great deal of introspection and insight to realize how much you might be taking for granted.
Generally speaking, comparing yourself to others can be helpful for goal orientation and producing the motivation to succeed. While this is the case, comparing yourself to others is not as helpful with romantic relationships.
Instead, view your successes as things to be proud of, but not necessarily something that makes you better than or worse than others. After all, we’re all made up of many unique talents and skills, and each one of us has something that requires extra help. Sometimes, it’s okay to ask for help from your partner or from other allies to help you keep grounded about your situation.
Plus, your success in a relationship is also the success of your partner. If your partner triumphs, so will you. Cooperate with one another to celebrate the totality of your talent, but don’t put anyone down in the process.
2. Be Supportive and Don’t "Triangulate"
We’re a generally smart breed of people. We often look for emerging information that adds to what we currently know and also allows us to become much more intelligent and resourceful, all in the name of order and stability. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to learn new information that helps us critically examine existing ideas, lessons, and morals.
When people talk about a subject matter, sometimes certain people might tell some kind of third-party about the same circumstance. However, the next thing you know, people are walking around with exaggerated misinformation, gossip, and drama, fostering a pretty fancy term called triangulation.
At times, we need specific kinds of contextual information from our social relationships, such as our friends and our family. However, triangulation is not particularly helpful when you have a romantic partner, because that’s how you get into fights and misunderstandings. Plus, other people don’t need to be bad-mouthing or judging your relationship and adding their own drama into the mix.
To give your partner the best space to be heard, you may need to hear them out on their own terms, even if you don’t always agree with them. In a way, you are their safe space and they are your safe space. In a lot of relationships, it might take time to truthfully tell everything, but it’s better out in the open than hidden away for others to discover the truth first.
Sometimes, our partners need the space to create a rough soundboard of their personal opinion, especially if it's for a topic that they never considered or thought about before. Their ideologies may shift and evolve, especially as you get to know one another. Being supportive means understanding that people take time to reach their own conclusion. Plus, we’re not breathing down anyone’s necks, we’re waiting for them to tell us what they understand.
3. Socially Evolve and Be Spontaneous
Perhaps you’ve followed a simple, static, and boring routine with your partner and you’re just going through the notions. You’re bored and you’re tired, and neither of you is speaking up.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to try out something you’ve never considered before. For example, maybe you will splurge on that new but swanky purchase, and allow your partner to join in on the fun. Perhaps you will end up watching that strange new tv show with your partner, despite it being a guilty pleasure. If anyone else knew, you’d be mortified, but since it’s your partner, you’re not worried. They’ve already shown to you that they can be trusted, even with your deepest secrets and desires.
It’s definitely okay to try new things every now and then, especially for the things you’ve been avoiding or neglecting for many years. Sometimes, that little spontaneous push is needed. I mean, we are still human and we have our own desires and needs.
The worst thing that you can do is magically hope for the circumstances to change on their own. Instead of waiting for change, you and your partner can be the catalyst for it. Perhaps your relationship requires a social evolution, one where you and your partner are much more comfortable, especially in the years ahead. I mean, if you’re in it for the long haul, it makes a lot more sense to enjoy the time that you have, for as long as you can.