In order to maintain a stable and fulfilling relationship, you might have to take some steps to better yourself. No one is perfect, but when we commit to sharing our lives with someone, we often learn that while our flaws will always be there, there are always things we can improve on.
Here are five ways you can better yourself in your relationship.
Know, and be able to communicate, what you want and need
Not knowing what you want or need is not a good place to be in as one vital half of a relationship. You need to be honest first with yourself, and then with the other person. If you do not know what you want or need, you will never be happy, not even if your friend, family member or significant other is technically doing everything right.
When you can effectively identify and communicate what you want and need in your relationship, you will spend much less time frustrated and angry and much more time feeling happy with the way things are. Once you learn how to get across what is on your mind, your stress levels will likely plummet.
The key is to use ‘I’ statements that do not put blame on either you nor the other person. You should always incorporate how a specific thing makes you feel. Instead of saying, “You aren’t listening to what I’m saying,” instead say, “I don’t feel as though I am being heard.” This way you are still being honest without making the other person feel as if they are being attacked.
Learn to listen first, respond second
It is not always about you, but that does not mean you do not deserve to be heard. However, you won’t be heard if you don’t first take the time to listen to what the other person has to say before you take your turn. People appreciate and respect being listened to. To earn that respect, you first need to learn how to give it.
Practicing how to listen first, respond second makes you a better person for many reasons. It is very easy to misinterpret what someone else is trying to say when we rush to get a word in. The better you can learn to listen, the better you will be able to understand what the other person wants and needs, the same way you want them to understand your wants and needs.
Get into the habit of making time for yourself
Being completely inseparable from someone may seem admirable at first, but that can quickly take a turn for the worse. Both of you need time away from each other. You may have a lot of things in common, but you are still you. You still need to pursue your own hobbies, spend time with your own friends and family and be your own person. Mentally and emotionally, it is a necessity.
Making time for yourself in a relationship does not just make your relationship stronger: it makes you stronger as well. Just because you share large portions of your life with someone does not mean you are required to, or should, spend every free moment of your time with them.
Establish designated ‘you’ time. Choose a few times a week where you do something you want to do apart from your significant other … even if you are still at that stage in your relationship when you don’t want to be apart from them. In the long run, you will feel more stable and reassured if you know you have that time to dedicate to only you.
Lead by example
Sometimes, communicating what you want does not work. It all depends on the relationship. You cannot let that get to you, though. In any situation, you can always choose to be the bigger person. You can always make an effort to be respectful and patient, even if your partner is not. You may not be able to control how they act and respond to you, but you can control your own actions and words.
Do not be passive aggressive. Do not say, “Let me show you how it’s done.” Simply be the kind of person you want your partner to be. Be kind and considerate. Think through your words before you say them. Be clear about what you want and need and how you are feeling. If they appreciate those things in you, over time they may follow your lead, and learn to do the same.
Be honest, but do it nicely
Have you ever said something and then immediately regretted it? If you have, you might generally have a harder time saying how you feel because it has backfired in the past. In many cases, it isn’t what is said that hurts someone else’s feelings, but the way it is said and the accompanying implications.
If something is on your mind, you have the right to say it out loud to the person you think needs to hear it. Sometimes our first instinct, though, is to either be passive aggressive until words start flying out of our mouth. If we do say something right away, it often comes off the wrong way because of how we say what we are feeling, which as you have likely experienced, never ends well.
It is okay to be honest about how you feel. Many people prefer that kind of attitude, even if they do not know it. In many cases, it is better to be honest than to let things bottle up until you burst. You can do it in a nice, respectful way, however. There are things you want to say, and things that need to be said. Know the difference, choose your words carefully, but allow yourself the right to speak your mind. Always. You deserve it.
In taking small steps to improve yourself in your relationship, you will find that the flaws you used to criticize within yourself often develop counteracting strengths when you decide to do things differently. Your inability to listen yields better listening skills. Your clingy personality eventually gives way to a new hobby you can pursue on your own. The way you used to lash out without thinking turns into a knack for positive criticism. In the end, it all works out for the better.