Like two lovers gliding gracefully across the ballroom floor, you and your partner’s lives are reciprocal and complementary, but not interdependent. His slick moves perfectly match your elegant grace, but as soon as you start stepping on his toes, or he starts dragging his feet, you know there are problems in the relationship.
We all start dating like it’s this perfect dance. Some waltz, while others swing, but the fact remains: there come points in your life when the rhythm gets harder to keep.
How to Keep the Dance Flowing
Your relationship was a lot easier to begin with, because it was more natural. But, as the sun sets on your honeymoon phase, love turns from easy bliss to hard work. This isn’t a bad thing. The “hard work” kind of love is the most satisfying, and the only way that love can be everlasting.
What’s key to keeping the flow?
1) Understand it Won’t Always Be Smooth
And don’t panic.
I have this tendency to take criticism of my work personally. Sometimes, when Deborah points out something that could be better, I’ll lash out. It might die there, or conflict might escalate, but the only way to actually move forward is to stand back, take a critical look and either admit it could be better, or explain (in structured sentences) why I like it the way it is.
You’ll make mistakes, he’ll make mistakes, and that’s a good thing, because it allows both of you learn. If you’ve messed something up, be quick to admit it. Then focus on a solution, rather than the problem.
If conflict does escalate, it’s never too late to back down from your ego. Remember, respect is the most important part of any relationship.
2) Shake Things Up Once in a While
Writing a poem and texting it to her won’t take you that long.
Nor will making her breakfast.
Or journaling together.
Or even a surprise date!
Can you spare a few minutes for the most important person in your life? I don’t know why I’m asking, of course you can! But you have to make it a priority.
3) Remember, the Quality of Your Life Depends on the Quality of Your Relationships
Imagine a client emails you. Do you reply right away? What if you’re late to a meeting with the same client. Do you apologize profusely?
For most of us, the answer is a resounding “of course!” That’s because there are immediate and real-world consequences for bad behavior. Our mistake, though, is assuming there aren’t consequences for the same behavior with our most beloved people.
There are! You may wake up one day, and she’s not there. You may cause friction that leads to fights.
You will die one day (God forbid it’s soon), and your eulogy might simply read, “He was a great human resources officer.” I don’t even really know what that means, and half the people at the funeral are right there with me.
4) Keep Your Identity Unique
Every relationship takes sacrifice and compromise, but it’s all too easy to sacrifice way too much.
I recently published this article, in which I talked about how I fell in love with my wife, because of her self worth. I also wrote this article, in which I explained the journey I took to loving myself, and how that led me to the “perfect” relationship.
Let me be clear: after finding your partner, the need for self love never changes. You don’t stop focusing on you just because you’re in a committed relationship. In fact, focusing on yourself is the best thing you can do for the relationship.
5) Focus On You and Your Vision
My wife and I recently heard about this thing called Supergenius. It’s a mind-bending 4-day workshop that challenges your basic beliefs about how the world works. We both decided to do it, but we did it on different dates.
When Deborah and I are together, we tend to stick to each other. There’s nothing wrong with that, but separating gives us the autonomy to have our own opinions and discover things independently of each other. Rather than forming our opinions together, essentially shaping our worldview around each other, we would come together at the end of the day and discuss our new discoveries.
You and your significant other are a team, because you bring in two different experiences, two different backgrounds, and two different perspectives into one unified decision-making process. You actually gain an advantage by utilizing self-discovery,
It’s all too common for one partner (or both partners) to be completely self-sacrificing. He may take a job he hates, or she may give up her basic necessities for the sake of her partner or kids. They both put their visions on hold, and as noble as that may be, the long term effect is often more disastrous for everyone. It limits future growth, and negatively impacts the most important thing: familial relationships.
6) Stay True to a Common Vision
Deborah and I have the added benefit of similar personal visions, so we work together, and (sort of) get a pass on this one. You don’t have to run a business with your partner like Deborah and I do, but it’s absolutely vital that you’re working toward something together.
Maybe you want a vacation, or a nice flat in London, or that beach body. Maybe you have a side project you can work on together.
Happiness comes from going after what you want. People are hardwired for the chase. Hard work and perseverance binds people together because of the emotions behind it: you have to want it, and you have to work for it.
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