When you’ve been in a relationship with someone for a long time, it can be easy to fall into bad relationship habits that undermine all that is good about your partnership. But taking the time to examine the minefield that is your own long-term relationship can be beneficial as it will allow you to identify areas that may need a little work to bring them back up to their sparkling best.
Half the work of fixing relationship bad habits lies is identifying the problem, and here are six of the most common:
Get out of that rut
We all know that families thrive on routine, but sometimes it’s bliss to break out and do things a little differently. It’s easy to get into a rut where every week feels the same, but it’s just as easy to get out of one too!
Just because you’ve had sex twice a week for the past five years, it doesn’t mean this is a rule set in stone. Mix things up a bit and go for three (or more!). And if you only go out for dinner on birthdays, try and throw a ‘date night’ into the mix too. In fact, anything you enjoy together should be done more often. Sure it takes a little extra effort, but it is so worth it.
Most couples will admit (perhaps quietly) that there are certain red button issues in their relationship. Whether its money, friends, family or conflicting interests, there are always one or two topics that more often than not turn into a heated discussion. If you find yourself endlessly reacting in the same way to the same issues, try to work out what it is that upsets you so much. Very often it’s your reaction that ignites a bigger argument. Instead, the next time you are discussing the contentious topic, resist the urge to fire up in the same way. Try staying calm and talk the issue through without raising your voice. Use active language and try to offer some solutions instead of complaining. After all, you can only move forward if you resolve the issue once and for all – even if it is only resolved by the two of you agreeing to disagree!
This is not a dictatorship
No adult – or child – likes to be told what to do 24/7. And while there is often a dominant person in most relationships, you need to always keep in mind that your relationship is meant to be a partnership. No one person should dictate the terms of your relationship. To have a healthy, thriving relationship, you need to hear and be heard. Listen a little more and you might just discover another way of doing things.
Saying the S word
While some people – presumably those not in a long-term relationship! – might claim that the most meaningful thing you can say to your partner is, “I love you”, those of us who are down in the trenches know saying “I am sorry” conveys even more heartfelt emotion.
Admitting when you’re wrong – whether it’s over big or small things – is the stuff of good relationships. Those three little words convey so much – a willingness to own up to mistakes, a faith that you’ll be forgiven, a belief that you are a team who can work together to fix things. Saying that you’re sorry when you stuff up is not an admission of weakness, but rather an admission of your belief that together you can fix it. Say sorry more often (when you need to) and your world will be a better place.
There’s no need to have the last word… so there!
Children often feel the need to have the last word in an argument – in their young minds, the last word equals the winning position. If they have managed to squeeze out the last insult, they have won the argument. Hurrah! Of course, as adults we know this not to be true. Having the last word in any disagreement does not make your argument stronger – in fact, the opposite can be true. The last word is usually a heated, hurtful, personal dig that you will regret later. If you do end up in an argument with your partner, always try to keep on topic rather than make it personal. Those last words can be really tricky to take back later when you’re making up.
Rise above it
Ask anyone in a long-term relationship what annoys them most about their partner and you’ll usually get a list of petty misdemeanours: wet towels on the bathroom floor, eating noisily, bringing snacks to bed, breathing loudly (yikes!), letting the kids eat junk food… all tiny things but also stuff that can really get under your skin!
It is best in these matters to try and adopt a zen approach. These are small things that don’t undo all that is good about your partner. Try and focus on the big picture rather than the tiny detail and let these annoyances wash past you.
If however, after 8 years of listening to your partner suck his teeth in front of the TV each night, you feel like you may just have to kill him, it is time to broach the subject. But rather than surprise him by jumping up in a fury and yelling at him that you can’t stand it ONE MINUTE LONGER, wait until you are calm and not currently experiencing the source of the aggravation. Explain in a reasonable voice that it is a habit that you really dislike and you would really appreciate it if he could work to changing it a little. Perhaps offer a compromise or a solution – like dental floss!
Written by Steph Graham
The girl you want by your side during any major life event, Steph is a decorating boss and a baking Queen. You’ll usually find her getting tipsy at a bottomless brunch, playing basketball and Insta-stalking the Hemsworth brothers.
Favourite 90s rap song: No Diggity by Blackstreet