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There’s a reason so many people aspire towards being in a relationship. Having a partner is super rewarding and fulfilling – you’ll have someone who shares your deepest emotions, lends you an empathetic ear whenever you need it, and joins you on all sorts of fun activities you might not do without them. But with all the highs of being a couple comes tons of work to maintain the love that binds you two together.
Among the best ways to preserve a strong relationship is ample, open communication. Relationship experts have long emphasized the need for communication, yet there are so many important things that couples just never talk about. Here are four things every couple needs to talk about but might be ignoring (or deliberately avoiding).
It may seem obvious that openness with feelings and emotions is key to a thriving relationship, but often enough, people keep their thoughts at bay to appease their partner. You can probably relate, even outside a relationship – is that slightly off-color thing your friend said really worth starting a whole fight about? In a relationship, though, civil discussion of things about which you’re confused or upset can nip problems in the bud before they fester and lead to worse problems down the line. You should also discuss the good things – occasionally reminding your partner about how they bring joy to your life can help keep the sparks flowing.
All people have career and lifestyle goals, but it can be challenging to think about relationships in terms of goals. If you really think about it, though, isn’t maintaining a relationship a goal in and of itself? You can also look at certain milestones as goals: Meeting each other’s parents, taking a long vacation together, moving in together, getting engaged, getting married, adopting pets, having children, and so forth. Just be sure to share goals slowly – if you’re a few months in, talking about a weekend trip is okay, but save the engagement and marriage goals for a year or two down the line.
Expectations aren’t quite the same thing as goals. Generally, if something feels like an achievement you would tell your friends about – meeting the parents, spending a week abroad, moving in together – it’s a goal. Expectations, on the other hand, might include how often you’d like to see your partner, what kind of things you’d like to do together, how much personal space and alone time you’ll need to maintain your sanity, and more. If neither you nor your partner makes your expectations clear, you’ll likely get into arguments that you could’ve easily avoided.
Just as absence can make the heart grow fonder, excessive closeness can breed resentment. If you notice signs that your partner might be growing resentment towards you and needing distance, bring it up. Stay strong and remain rational as your partner tells you why it is they’re feeling resentful, suffocated, or unheard. You might decide that you two should take a break to see whether you’re naturally drawn back to each other, and that’s okay – the distance will help you reassess the relationship and decide whether it should continue. If it does continue, it might be stronger than ever.
What things do you think every couple should talk about? Sound off in the comments!