If you were to do a quick check on your relationship, what would you say about it? Is your relationship struggling? Are you and your partner connecting well? Can you and your partner communicate without awkward silence or without it turning into a blow-up argument? Or how about, is your relationship successful?
Now, it’s important to decide what it means for a relationship to be successful. Every relationship is going to struggle now and again, but there are key components to every successful relationship. The keys to a successful relationship include: taking responsibility for your part in the relationship, accepting that your partner has feelings (that may be different than yours), embracing the good moments, and not expecting efforts from your partner when you aren’t putting forth efforts. Read on to make your relationship successful by addressing these key components.
1.Take Responsibility for Your Part
This has to be the main problem that every couple’s therapist sees! Oftentimes, couples come into couple’s therapy with the idea that their partner has things to fix, and if they fixed these things about them, then the relationship would be better. Although your partner probably does have aspects of themselves that they can work on (because we all do), you have parts of yourself that can be worked on as well. In every couple’s conflict, it takes two. So, what is your part in the conflict? Additionally, what is your part when you and your partner are doing really good? Outside of what your partner does that affects you, it is important to think about how you contribute or react to conflicts and successes. Moreover, own up to these with your partner! Neither you nor your partner want to feel like you are in this alone. Therefore, show your partner that you can take responsibility for your part.
2. Accept Your Partner’s Feelings
Both you and your partner are entitled to your own feelings (even if they differ from each other). In every successful relationship, one partner accepts the other partner’s feelings by listening to them. Listening to your partner’s feelings means that you are being attentive to them, not trying to interrupt them, and possibly even reflecting back what you heard them say to make sure that you understand them correctly. Additionally, to accept your partner’s feelings, you must provide some validation that they are feeling a certain way. Although you may not understand why your partner is feeling a certain way, your partner wants to hear and see that you accept them regardless.
Finally, and most importantly, when you accept your partner’s feelings, you are not trying to change their feelings or argue that they can’t possibly be feeling a certain way. One of the worst feelings is when you have an emotion and someone criticizes you after you displayed a huge level of vulnerability. So, don’t do this to your partner! Accept that you cannot change how your partner feels, but you can be there as a support by listening and accepting them.
3. Embrace The Good Moments
In every relationship, there is going to be both highs and lows. If you want your relationship to be successful, you must embrace the good moments both in the relationship and in your partner! Instead of focusing on everything that is going wrong, start focusing on everything that is going right. Once you start embracing the good moments, think about them. What makes these moments good? This is a joint effort, and so, both you and your partner are playing a role in the good moments, and thus, to continue these moments, you can be in on them together!
4. Do Not Expect Effort If You Are Not Giving Effort
As previously mentioned, in couple’s therapy, it is common for couples to think that relationship conflicts would decrease if their partner fixed aspects of themselves and actions that they do. Again, in every conflict, it takes two. Also, to overcome those challenges in a relationship, it takes two. Thus, do not expect your partner to make efforts towards change if you are not putting forth efforts yourself. Whether your partner chooses to put forth effort is ultimately up to them. However, you can show your partner your level of care for the relationship by putting effort towards your part in the relationship (and hopefully they will do the same). Either way, your efforts will support you in this relationship, other relationships, and individually. Once you stop expecting your partner to change and focus on what YOU can change, you will be one step closer to having a successful relationship.
Now that you have read these tips on how to make your relationship successful, start putting them to the test! First, take responsibility for your part in the relationship. Second, accept your partner’s feelings by validating them and not trying to change them. Third, embrace the good moments in your relationship (even in times of conflict these exist). Lastly, don’t expect your partner to put forth efforts if you are not putting forth efforts yourself.
Amanda Cummins is an associate therapist with The Marriage and Family Clinic. She focuses on working with couples in distress as well as families and children in transitions. As a Denver Native, Amanda enjoys hiking, yoga, and spending time with her family.