Don’t assume you know your partner’s goals. Sit down and talk about what your partner wants as well as what you want. Get on the same page about where you would like to be in 10 or 20 years. When you know you’re working toward the same things, you will feel happier and more secure.
Respect your partner’s values. This is an area where differences can create problems for relationships. Remember that it’s OK to have differing political opinions or religious beliefs as long as you honor those differences and treat each other with respect.
Don’t indulge in petty resentments. So your mate is messy or always leaves the car on empty. Look, we’re all human. Think about it. Even at your most perfect, perhaps you have an annoying flaw or two. Now drop your grudge and move on. It will make your life easier.
Study your partner’s communication style. If your partner is more of a visual communicator, talk face to face if it’s about something important. If your other half is a big talker, learn to listen better. If your mate is an emotional communicator, try holding hands and speaking softly. After listening, restate what your partner said to make sure you got it right. This is an important part of active listening.
Find a middle ground. You may not always see eye to eye, but you can dance cheek to cheek your whole life through if you learn to compromise. If you both accept you won’t get everything you want and giving up a little isn’t the same as giving in, you will get along much better.
Trust you have made the right choice. If you’re not getting along at the moment, remember you have before and will again. You have grown with your partner and are better for it. Sometimes our greatest difficulties bring us closer together, as we help to heal each other.
Take responsibility for your behavior. If you have crossed a line, admit it. If you’ve said something hurtful, apologize, and if you know you’re wrong, say so. These actions will keep the relationship on solid ground.
Too much time gets spent dealing with things after they have gone wrong. Using these tools will help prevent problems and make life with your partner more enjoyable.
Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D. is an award-winning psychotherapist and humanitarian. He is also a columnist, the author of eight books, and a blogger for PsychologyToday.com with nearly 35 million readers. He is available for in-person & video consults world-wide, reach him at Barton@BartonGoldsmith.com