If you’ve ever been in a long-term relationship, you know those first few months can be magical. When riding high on feelings of love and infatuation, your partner can seem to do no wrong. You may have started to make positive changes yourself, like quitting smoking or getting in shape, to further impress them. Life was pretty exciting!
But as relationships mature, that puppy love eventually fades and people fall into their old ways. What was once endearing might be annoying or outright infuriating. It’s after the honeymoon phase that the strength of a relationship is truly tested. But how can you be sure your love will last?
S.J. Scott and Barrie Davenport’s book Mindful Relationship Habits outlines over two dozen different habits people can develop to forge stronger, happier relationships with their romantic partners. When practiced regularly, they can help you fully appreciate your partner while also ensuring your own needs are met.
Here are five of our favorite suggestions, along with ideas of how Fabulous can help you bring these relationship habits into your daily life.
Lead With Kindness
We should all aspire to be kind as much as possible, but making a habit of showing your partner kindness is especially important. It can be easy to take for granted the trust and love you and your partner have for each other. Sometimes, you might say something cruel as a way of letting off steam or simply because you know your partner will still love you afterward.
But ask yourself this: Would you say those things to any other adult? And if you wouldn’t, why is it okay to say those things to someone you cherish so deeply?
Loving your partner means showing them compassion, even when it’d be easier not to.
Fabulous Suggests: Have you tried our Act of Kindness Mini Challenge? Surprise your partner every day for a week with an act of kindness! Try experimenting with different love languages to see which your partner responds to most.
When people describe how it feels to be vulnerable, the word “naked” comes up a lot. It can be frightening to bare your soul and unveil your insecurities or fears with someone, especially if you don’t know how they’ll respond.
But you cannot have a wholly fulfilling relationship if you and your partner aren’t willing to be vulnerable with one another. Being vulnerable with people fosters trust between them. Vulnerable conversations can strengthen the bond you and your special someone share while building up your individual confidence, too.
Fabulous Suggests: Check out any of Fabulous’s Brené Brown book summaries. Dr. Brown’s work is all about the importance of living wholeheartedly, of which vulnerability is an important part. Daring Greatly talks about this in-depth.
Create a Relationship Vision
We talk about goal setting all the time here at Fabulous. Having goals keep you directed on the life’s path you want to be on. You probably have goals for your career, your health, and your life… but what about your relationship?
Forming a vision for your relationship encourages you to be more mindful about your aspirations and your expectations. When you and your partner discuss your individual goals, you can create a mutual vision that prioritizes shared goals while still minding individual needs. A mutual vision can also help you bypass potential arguments about differences in expectations down the road.
Fabulous Suggests: Taking a moment to put your hopes and fears in writing is a fantastic way to help you articulate and process your feelings. Try the Make Me Fabulous Write Your Story exercise, but with a twist: Write the story of your relationship! Have your partner do the same, then compare notes. Revisit this exercise regularly! Your vision may grow and change as your relationship does.
Say “I Feel” Instead of “You”
It’s not the most glamorous part of a long-term relationship, but arguing is inevitable. Misunderstandings can happen and airing grievances can be healthy if done in a productive way. It’s important to remember that you and your partner are on the same team; your intention should be to work together to solve problems when they arise, rather than pointing fingers and making demands.
One simple way to ensure your arguments do more help than harm is to make a simple change to how you phrase your problems. When you’re arguing or complaining, you may find yourself saying things like, “you never take out the garbage,” or “you never pay attention to me,” which puts the blame on your partner and can lead to resentment. Instead of that, substitute “you” for “I feel.” Instead of “you never pay attention to me,” try, “I feel like you’ve been ignoring me lately.” Focusing on how the behavior makes you feel creates a non-judgemental space for you and your partner to work on solving the problem together instead of battling each other over it.
Fabulous Suggests: Add the “Show Compassion” habit to one of your daily rituals. It will serve as a daily reminder to communicate how unpleasant behaviors make you feel rather than criticizing your partner for having them. Practicing this every day, even when you’re not having an argument, will make it easier to fall back on if something more serious does come up.
It might not seem like an important part of a relationship, but loving yourself is actually one of the most important parts! When you fully love yourself, you don’t have to look to a romantic interest to make up for your perceived shortcomings. You don’t need someone else to complete you; you’re already a complete being!
When you’re comfortable with yourself, you can be more comfortable with your significant other. A high sense of personal value makes it easier to establish and maintain healthy boundaries, communicate openly, and forgive both yourself and your partner for minor indiscretions or mistakes. And not only is self-love personally empowering, it’s pretty attractive, too!
Fabulous Suggests: Fabulous has a whole journey dedicated to helping you realize how wonderful you are! Start the Pillars of Self-Esteem journey today to build a whole repertoire of habits that will boost your self-worth.
None of the suggestions listed above are one-time actions. Just as the book says, they are habits, which means you have to practice them regularly. Having one productive argument or practicing one act of self-love is great, but you won’t really reap the benefits until these habits are ingrained into your everyday experience.
Luckily, you aren’t alone. Not only do you have Fabulous and its wealth of users in your corner, but you also have an even more important and useful helper: Your partner! Relationships are a team effort. They require time and work to be successful. But forming some mindful relationship habits will make the work easier and much more rewarding.