Over the course of a long-term relationship, you may need to make big choices as a couple, possibly many. Life altering decisions such as moving far away if one person gets a job, getting married, and if you’re ready for kids.
While these choices are very important, when it comes to the health of a relationship, it’s the small day to day decisions that can break or make a relationship.
Here are six choices you can make every day to improve your relationship:
1. Being present.
Don’t tune him out. Many of us do this to people–we’re watching a show on Netflix or we’re fiddling with our phone. It’s straight up rude to ignore someone, especially when it’s a topic that excites that person. Be aware if your partner is talking about something important to them and then focus on the conversation. Turn off the phone, pause Netflix, and pay attention.
By not paying attention to them, it’ll be like if they ignored us–it makes us feel like they’re taking us for granted and vice versa. You can choose not to let this happen. You control your actions. While you don’t have to spend every second while at home staring deeply into each other’s eyes, but you can choose to be fully engaged with your partner when they speak to you.
2. Choose self-care.
A good way to decide to be fully present and loving with your partner is to take good care of yourself as an individual. Do what you need to do to be kind to yourself–to feel happy and fulfilled.
This is going to be different for everyone so we can’t really tell you what to do. It might be that you need 30 minutes of alone time after work. It might be your Zumba class. It might be getting a pedicure once a week. It might be talking to your best friend.
Whatever you find works best for you, prioritize it without apology. Your relationship will only benefit from it.
3. Be spontaneous.
If you don’t want your relationship going stagnate, then spontaneity is key.
Your ability to be spontaneous doesn’t matter how often you do it. A random walk to the fro-yo shop near your place can be just as exciting as a trip to Paris (okay, maybe not as exciting but requires less credit card debt).
Just make sure the effort you put into the relationship happens as often as possible.
4. Go the high road.
Your partner is occasionally going to be in a bad mood, just like you will. They’re going to make snide remarks that are designed to pull you down with them. Let’s say you were feeling pretty good before their shitty mood.
You can let them suck you in, or you can get mad at them for being grumpy, or you can become a fight.
But there is one other choice. You can take the high road. You can acknowledge that their mood doesn’t have to affect yours. Be respectful and tell them you’re sorry they’ve had a bad day, ask if there’s anything you can do–and if not, you give them space to stew.
Make the decision to not take the bait. Don’t take their anger personally. We all have negativity within us. If you can rein in your anger now, when you’re having a bad day yourself, your partner may remember how supportive you were and return the favor.
5. Say “Thank you.”
It’s easy to treat your long term relationship like customer service calls. A good experience generally means you won’t say anything–but a bad experience generally means that you’ll call the manager and complain and write them a negative review on Yelp.
The point is, we need to verbalize the good stuff that our partner does if we hope for them to keep doing that good stuff.
If they make dinner or do the dishes, say thanks. If they plan a romantic evening for you, say thanks. If they do anything thoughtful for you that you appreciated, say thanks! It’s that simple.
6. Be honest.
Even when the honesty is uncomfortable, honesty is still best. You need to be able to communicate the bad stuff with your partner as well as the good. If you hold that stuff inside, then resentment and unsaid words only build up and cause bigger problems down the road. Do yourself and your partner a favor and just be honest about stuff that’s bothering you.
If you’re having a hard time letting go of something your partner did or said, bring it up and talk about it. If you’re feeling unhappy, be brave and talk it out with them.
Be as honest with them as you can, it’s worth it down the road. C. Sky