How To Navigate Issues in Your Long-Term Relationship
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Although the first stages of a romantic relationship have us swooning with admiration and lovey-dovey feelings for our special someone, many find that this initial excitement starts to wain as time goes on. The “honeymoon stage”, or the first few months of a relationship, is a time in which people feel their partner and relationship is perfect, and we often feel optimistic for the future ahead. However, when a relationship becomes a long-term relationship, we can finally start to see flaws arise. What can you do when your long-term relationship may turn from “perfect” to problematic?
First, realize that it’s common to have these concerns. Relationships should be happy, but that certainly doesn’t mean they are always easy. With every long-term relationship, no matter if it’s dating, marriage, or even an open relationship, comes conflict. After all, you are dealing with a whole other person, which can be difficult when you disagree. With some effort, though, you will be pleased to find that many relationship conflicts can be resolved. Keep reading to find out some of the most common issues people find in their long-term relationships, and how to resolve them!
Issue 1: The long-term relationship is getting boring. Do you find that you and your partner, although comfortable with one another, are becoming bored? Perhaps you do the same routine every day and find you have less and less to talk about at the dinner table. Maybe you even wish for those feelings of excitement that were present when you started dating, which seem long gone now.
- Possible Solution: Make trying new things together a priority! Research has shown that one of the leading causes of boredom in long-term relationships is a lack of novelty and stimulation. What is the solution for this? You guessed it: novel and stimulating experiences with your partner!
A 2013 study found that couples who felt as though their long-term relationship was dull found their relationship improved and became more exciting after a 4-week intervention program in which they tried new experiences together. Consider exploring new things and working them into both of your routines, like hiking, trying a new sport neither of you has played, or signing up for a couples’ cooking class. Try scheduling a fun date activity every so often on your calendars so you can look forward to it each week!
Issue 2: Ineffective arguments. Do you and your partner have frequent arguments? You may try to come to a solution, but one or both of you aren’t satisfied with it. Or maybe you seldom come up with a solution at all and just give each other the silent treatment until it all blows over. Either way, these arguments leave you with hostility and resentment towards your partner.
Possible Solution: Learn conflict resolution skills, and practice them!
- Arguments are bound to happen, no matter how healthy or unhealthy your long-term relationship is. This means that it is essential to learn a few skills that will help you work through conflicts with poise and kindness when they come up, and prevent them from emerging again in the future.
- Some of the most helpful conflict resolution tips for long-term relationships are directly expressing your feelings (without projecting, blaming, or passive aggression), being open-minded to your partner’s point of view and possible outcomes, and remembering that you and your partner are on the same team in the end—you’re partners, not opponents.
- With practice, these techniques will allow you to effectively work through arguments before they become distressing. Also, try reading this book about arguing and apologizing effectively in relationships!
Issue 3: There is not enough to talk about. If you and your partner have been in a relationship for years, you may find that the conversations you have now are not as exciting as the ones you had at the start of your relationship. You probably feel as though you know all there is to know about your partner—you know all about their childhood, family, friends, favorites—what else could there be to talk about? This can be especially hard nowadays when it’s fairly common to be working from home with your partner. If you see them all day, what is there to talk about when you both unwind at night?
Possible Solution: Dive deeper, open up, and add new elements to your conversations, while recognizing the beauty of comfortable silence!
- Just because you are finding lulls in your conversations doesn’t mean your relationship and romance are dead. Comfortable silence is actually quite a beautiful thing and means that you have reached the ultimate level of comfort with your partner.
- However, it is important that you and your partner still feel as though you are connecting and communicating, and meaningful conversation is a great way to do this. Diving into deeper subjects and opening up are great ways to make conversations richer.
- For example, instead of talking to your partner about what you did that day (especially if it’s been the same due to routine), talk about something deeper. For example, asking your partner about their highs and lows of the day and making attempts to better understand their work while actively listening to their responses are both great places to start. The two of you can even recall your favorite memories with each other, talk about your future goals, or discuss grand issues of philosophy and morality, if that’s what you’re into! These open-ended topics will keep the conversation flowing, instead of falling short.
- Additionally, trying new things with your partner adds more elements to your conversations, because you can talk about what you just experienced together. It doesn’t have to be something drastic like going mountain climbing or taking a trip. A new experience to talk about can simply be watching a new TV show with your partner so that you can talk about your favorite characters and episodes.
- Finally, one last tip for those who find they run out of things to say is to reduce contact during the day until you have time to reflect and talk at the end of the day during “couple time”.
- Instead of texting and calling your partner throughout the day or chit-chatting with them while you are both working from home, designate some time at the end of the day (most likely dinner time) to catch up. This will keep the conversation alive and feel more special.
- If you need a bit of guidance, try these fun “conversation cards” to get the ball rolling!
As you can see, all long-term relationships take work. But, with some practice, communication, and effort, there is no doubt that you and your partner can keep your relationship alive and flourishing!
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