There are certain common-sense rules that all good relationships should follow. For example, it is important to communicate your problems before the issue reaches 11 on a 10-point scale.
It’s also essential that you develop at least a few similar interests in order to develop a well-rounded relationship. That being said, there are certain behaviors that might seem taboo on the surface. But can actually contribute to a happier relationship and even result in a higher quality of life.
Here are eight surprising strategies that might actually save your relationship:
1. Talking About Past Relationships Shouldn’t Be Off-Limits.
Exes shape who we are and even influence our future romantic relationships. As uncomfortable as it might seem, there are times when it is important to discuss lessons you’ve learned based on previous relationships. It demonstrates openness and honesty, and it also shows that you’ve moved on.
On the other hand, there is one thing you should absolutely avoid doing: never compare your current partner to girls/guys you’ve dated in the past. In particular, don’t “rate” them for their positive and negative qualities based on what you’ve experienced with others. They don’t need those constant reminders or evaluations.
2. Separate Beds And Even Bedrooms Might Be The Key
Lovers sleeping separately is a growing trend. In fact, a survey in 2017 found that a full quarter of married couples do so. While there are a lot of societal pressure to share a bed and room based on the automatic assumption that couples who don’t must be having romantic issues, research has actually found that couples sleep better when they’re alone.
Issues like rolling around, hogging the blankets, and loud snoring create a lot of resentment and lead to restless nights. It should be noted that there isn’t a whole lot of research on how this affects the romantic side of the relationship. But if you plan things well, you can have the best of both worlds: much-needed intimacy and peaceful sleep.
3. Discuss Finances
It’s common to act secretly when it comes to money. After all, why is it anybody else’s business what you make and how you choose to spend it? But here’s the reality: the number one cause of divorce is money problems. This is why it is so important that you communicate financial-related issues as soon as you’ve established a steady relationship. For instance, if one of you has always been on sound financial footing but the other is a compulsive shopper. You’ll quickly discover how much that debt will affect you equally the moment your finances are firmly tied together.
Agree on important things like the household budget and determine how much each of you will contribute to the utility and cable bill. Set up the ground rules before making big purchases, otherwise you’ll be in for a surprise when your partner comes home in the Lamborghini you most definitely were not consulted on.
4. Find Time Away From Each Other
Just like every healthy relationship requires the occasional romantic weekend getaway. It is also essential that you have a life separate from your significant other. Being together 24/7 is not going to be helpful in your relationships, especially when there’s no possible way that you both share 100% of the same interests.
Guys, if you want to go to your favorite sports bar and down a couple beers with friends while watching the big football game, go for it. Likewise, ladies, there’s no reason why your partner needs to act as a chaperone when you want to get a latte and chat the afternoon away with your gal pals.
5. You Don’t Always Have To Eat The Same Meals
Dining together — especially after a long day at work — is the perfect way to connect with your partner. But there’s no rule that says you need to eat the exact same thing. Just as you would typically order different courses when you dine out at a restaurant, it’s perfectly okay to prepare separate meals. Perhaps you love meat, but your partner is a vegetarian or even (gasp!) a vegan! Or he/she loves spicy food while you prefer something that tastes really boring. Forcing food on each other when you have significantly different preferences is a surefire path to the Darkside.
6. Text Each Other Less
Yes. Society has seemingly reached a point in which couples who literally live together are now texting each other at every waking moment. While sending a short text wishing your significant other good luck moments before an important exam or job interview is a nice gesture, and shows that you care. There is no reason to be constantly sharing every single thought that crosses your mind via text. When you have earth-shattering news to share (your sister’s dog gave birth to a litter of puppies!). It’s so much better to tell them face-to-face.
7. Let go of Trying to be Perfect
A lot of relationship advice will tell you that you need to be the best version of yourself in a relationship. Or that a good relationship will make you the best version of yourself. And while this is generally a good rule of thumb, no one can be their best self at all times. If you go into a long-term relationship expecting only the best from yourself (or from your partner), then you are bound to be disappointed. I am seriously, seriously disappointed. Relationships have highs and lows that are often directly related to our moods and imperfections as people. To be in a healthy relationship, you need to accept that things are not going to be perfect, and that you will not always have it all together.
Once you let go of the idea of trying to be the ‘perfect partner’ or the best version of yourself every minute of every day. You will feel much more at ease in the relationship. And you will feel much more satisfied with the relationship when things are average, as they will definitely be at times. Letting go of this expectation will also give your partner more room to be imperfect, which is also super important. Your partner needs to feel as if they can be themselves, imperfections and all, which might be hard to do if you are holding yourself to the standard of ‘perfect’. Embracing imperfections is also much more fun than striving to be flawless all the time! Life is messy, and learning to roll with the punches will serve you well in your relationship and in the rest of your life.
8. Don’t Prioritize your Children
Marriage/long-term relationships can be hard themselves, but these relationships become even more difficult when there are children involved. Whether they’re your children, step children, adopted/fostered children, taking care of another human can be difficult and time-consuming, and it can put a lot of stress on your relationship.
Conventional wisdom normally suggests that your kids should come first over everything else. But this type of thinking can often put your marriage under significant duress. It’s never good to completely put your relationship on the backburner, even if you think you are doing it for a good reason (aka your beloved kiddos).
Intentionally setting aside time to be a couple and to check in with each other can help keep your relationship healthy for your sake and for the sake of your children. This tip comes with the caveat that, of course, you should prioritize your children most of the time. But just make sure that you and your partner have some time as a couple every now and again so that you can keep your relationship going long after the kids are out of the house.
This is much harder to do when your kids are super little and dependent upon you. But that is often the most important time to invest in your relationship with your partner. Taking one night a week to yourselves, even if it means calling a babysitter or having your parents step in, can often be enough to keep your relationship going strong even through the toddler years. And while it may seem selfish in the moment. Maintaining your relationship (even during stressful times) will create more stability for you and your children in the long term, which is beneficial for everyone.