The problem with all relationships is that we are all human, which means we have our own self interests to look after, usually above all else. Problems arise when our own self interests conflict with those of another; especially when that “another” is someone we truly care about. Quite often the best way you can improve your relationship with your significant other, is not through trying to deny your own self interests, but by modifying some of your actions or reactions when confronted with a conflict. In so doing you will most likely find your partner becoming happier with you, which will in turn make you a happier person in the long run as well.
Below are SIX things you can do, without much effort I might add, to improve your standing as a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife or significant other.
1. Be kind. It seems so obvious, but it’s surprising how un-kind people can be to people that love them, especially when in a bad mood or have had a particularly bad day at the office. Being kind means, being polite. It means treating the person you love as you would wish to be treated. It means not calling names, or belittling, or proving yourself right. It means being as nice to them as you were in the days when you were still trying to win their heart. It also means saying nice things to them. Too often it seems we overlook the good and speak up about the bad. The more we can switch this around, the better partner we’ll be. Your significant other will like you a lot more if you comment on what a good job they did with the kids or how a glance from them can still take your breath away than if you only notice how dinner was late or the kids are always fighting.
2. Consider situations logically. Quite often we react emotionally when confronted with a situation that upsets us. It’s only natural. But, reacting purely out of emotion might not be the best course of action. In fact, more often that not, it might be one of the worst. For example, if your wife has her heart set on watching a particular television show and you would rather watch something else, you could tell her how stupid her show is, and try to force the issue, or, instead, you could think through to the end result of such a strategy by asking yourself if in the long run, watching a television show you don’t like is worse than the consequences of starting a fight? Or as another example, say your husband or boyfriend has cooked a nice meal for the two of you. Most of it’s pretty good, but he’s added way to much salt to one of the dishes. You have a choice, you can tell him, thinking it’s best to be honest, and thus avoid having to eat the stuff, or you can think through your words and actions first and perhaps possibly see that there might be another way out. Maybe adding ketchup or some other ingredient will make it more palatable for you. Or just eating it anyway, to avoid making an issue out of something that is truly inconsequential, might be better than embarrassing him. It’s a subtle thing, being logical, but quite often if we pause to consider the impact our words and actions might have before rushing forward, and thus give ourselves time to see if there might not be a better way to handle a situation, we might find that we’re living a bit more proactively than we might should we continue to react based on emotions alone.
3. Listen. We’ve all heard it. But have we listened? Is it truly so impossible to force yourself to listen to your wife or girlfriend, or husband or boyfriend go on and on about their day? Or to listen to them yak about their mother or their friends or whatever is on their mind? In one word, no, it’s not impossible. Listening is not only possible, but feasible. It’s a practical tool you can use every time your loved one opens their mouth. Listen to what they have to say, then say something about it after they’ve finished to let them know you’ve heard what they’ve just said. It doesn’t have to be an opinion, or a retort, in fact, usually it’s best just to parrot something back, only as a question, indicating you’re asking for reassurance that what you heard was correct. It’s not that hard, and there is a very good chance that if you listen to your man or woman, you might just find them listening to you.
4. Hold your tongue. So often in life our first instinct upon seeing or hearing something, is to open our mouths and to say the first thing that that has come to mind. Sometimes, this is a good thing; other times, however, it’s not. With practice, people can learn which is which, and only go ahead with a comment if it’s actually what we want to say. There isn’t any law that says you have to voice your disagreement if you don’t like what you’ve heard. There’s nothing written in stone that says you have to react if you see something that bothers you. The decisions is yours. That’s the critical thing. Taking the time to actively make that decision, by basing it on something more than a knee-jerk reaction.
5. Practice forgiveness. Everyone makes mistakes. This goes without saying. What sets people apart however, is how they react when it’s somebody else making the mistake. The sad fact is, most of us keep a little ledger going in our heads. We know every mistake our partner has every made, and this little ledger seems to suddenly magically appear whenever they say something we don’t like. We can’t control our every thought. We can however control what we say or do when those thoughts happen. Forgiveness is remembering what they’ve done wrong, but not bringing it up again when they’ve done something new that upsets us.
6. Touch them. From the moment of conception, we are needy creatures. Every single one of us. And one of these needs is to know in our hearts that someone truly cares about us. As children, we know our mothers love and care about us because they take care of us. The kiss our boo-boos and sympathize when we have set-backs. And they touch us. Whether it be kisses or hugs or tussling our hair. A mother’s touch is what shows us that she truly cares. We never outgrow this need. But we do outgrow the need for this sort of affection to come from our mothers. Later in life, we turn instead to our boyfriends or girl friends or wives or husbands, for this sort of validation .Unfortunately, we live in a busy world that leaves little time for non-sexual intimacy. As with most things in a relationship, you’ll most likely find that to get what you want, you have to give something of yourself. Touching isn’t hard. It’s easy. And not only that, it’s a two-way street. It’s as much fun to get as it is to give. There’s no good reason to forgo a hug when seeing your loved one return from work. Or from brushing their cheek with your fingertips in the kitchen. Or holding their hand at a movie. There’s no good reason to stop kissing for no reason, or to stop holding someone you love just because. Touch them. They’ll feel it, and you will too.
The six things I’ve listed above can make you a better partner by helping you avoid some of the things that make them not like you. They can also help make you a better person to be with by helping to jump over some of the roadblocks to closeness and by removing the hindrances to intimacy. Doing any of these things will not only make your husband or wife or boyfriend or girlfriend happier, they’ll make you happier too. And isn’t that what we all want in the end?