You've just made the huge step of moving in together or getting married. Congratulations! Now, what's next? The dream of hot sex whenever you want it. Splitting the finances 50/50. The possibilities are endless.
Then, reality sets in. You had no idea that your partner was a neat freak. You have no time for friends, and you feel like you don't know one another anymore. As far a sex, maybe you have it once a month, and that's if there's nothing better on T.V. When you are angry at your partner, there is nowhere to hide. You will actually have to talk about your problems. For some this is scary and for others it is not, depending on your style.
You realize that the only people who have the perfect relationship are in the movies. Hopefully, you realize you don't have to have the perfect relationship and start to strive for the good enough relationship. Here are 10 helpful tips to help keep you sane in your relationship:
- Make sure you're doing it for the right reasons. For a lot of couples, moving in together just happens. They don't usually weigh out the pros and cons or make plans in advance. Maybe, it just felt right or it was convenient. No more arguing of where you will stay or having to bring an overnight bag. For some, it may be a test for the future. For others, they just may be trying it out. Either way, it's important to have a conversation about what moving in means to each of you. If you're not on the same page and you move in together, you're inevitably going to have conflict over it.
- Be prepared for change. Change is inevitable when you move in together or get married. Even couples who've dated for years prior to moving in together or getting married, need to make adjustments. They start to see their honey-bunny's little quirks and habits. Maybe, the things you thought were cute aren't so cute anymore. Suddenly, snuggling together in the morning isn't as great as you thought it might be. When you start to smell your partners bad breath or hear them fart when they think you are asleep. At this point, you know the 24-hour sex-a-thon is over. Living together requires work on both parts. Remember, to surprise your partner with the little things. Like, flowers for no reason or taking out the trash without being asked. An occasional flirty text can help keep the spark alive.
- Have your own space. Just because you live together, it doesn't mean you have to be together 24-7. You will still need to have time for yourself. Both of you should make it a point to carve out time for yourself. It can be as simple as taking a walk when you get home from work. If you have them available, you can carve out a man-cave in the garage or decorate the spare room the way you would like it.
- Accept influence from one another. This doesn't mean you have to like everything that your partner likes. It just means you need to be open to your partner's ideas. Find a way to make your lifestyles mesh as smoothly as possible. I'm sure you've noticed that living together is entirely different from staying together over long weekends. Try to establish some ground rules that you both have influence on. For example, if you're a neat-freak and he isn't, try to come up with a happy medium.
- You don't always have to be right. It's easy to argue for your point of view, but this can be damaging to the relationship. This goes with accepting influence. Listen to your partner and try to understand their point of view. This will help build the friendship in the relationship.
- Establish rituals of connection. Start with the simple things like departing and greeting for the day. Know at least one important thing about your partner's day before you leave, and ask them about it at the end of the day. Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. Know when you will see your partner and keep it on the calendar.
- State your appreciations to one another. This is one of those easy things that is easy to forget after being in a relationship for a while. Tell your partner often what you appreciate about them. For example, I really like how you see the bright side to things, or your willingness to help out around the house.
- Stay in touch while you are apart. This is where texting can be positive. Let your partner know how your day is going and ask them about theirs. This is also a great time to text an appreciation to your partner.
- Brag about your partner to your friends and family. Even if they say you don't need to or that they don't like it, they really do. Instead of telling your friends the negative about your partner or your relationship, let them know how much you love and appreciate your partner. For example, let them know your partner is the love of your life, that you are happily married and you can't wait to see your partner when you get home at the end of the day.
- Be gentle with one another. After you've been in a relationship for a while, it's easy not to use a filter. Start conversations with your partner gently, especially when it is about a reoccurring conflict in the relationship. Remember, to put your partner first. This is most important in a relationship.
If you focus on things you both enjoy and nurturing the friendship, your chances of being together for the long haul are pretty good. The research at The Gottman Institute has found that a strong friendship is the foundation for a relationship. This also will help with the intimacy, and let's face it who doesn't want the intimacy to be good in their relationship.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Lianne Avila can help improve the friendship, intimacy and quality of your relationship. She uses well researched communication tools by The Gottmans. For more information please reach out. Lianne is available for a phone consultation as well as therapy services in San Mateo, CA. You can reach her directly at (650) 892-0357.