Sounds a bit rigid, doesn’t it? But maybe we all have unspoken rules in our relationships and, actually, some of them might be very useful…..
Following on from my last blog about possibly ‘future-proofing’ your relationship, made me wonder about whether couples have rules that they sub-consciously keep to.
For instance, if you have a rule for what happens when you disagree, one good rule is to take time out; sticking to the point and not swearing are other ‘rules’ that work for a lot of couples. Basically, it’s about keeping the problem contained to what’s going on right now. although seemingly small arguments about whose turn it was to clean the bathroom can mask much deeper issues like one of you feeling a lot of disappointment and sadness. Which brings me to another ‘rule’…
The next thing is the oft-repeated one about communication – you may be a talker but maybe your partner is definitely the opposite. It can be really testing but try to keep listening to each other, rather than filling in the blanks or mind-reading. After that, identifying what’s wrong and trying to find a reasonable solution together, can help you overcome a lot of problems.
There’s some evidence to show that life events such as bereavement, job loss and illness can have a huge impact on your relationship. It’s easy to think that as a couple you’ll pull together, but that’s not always the case. People deal with traumas differently – that’s part of being human – but if you can try to reframe situations so that you feel that you’re a team, you’ve made a good start in getting through them together. So maybe another ‘rule’ is trying to pull together when something big happens.
It’s easy to grow apart, even if you started off very much together, so another ‘rule’ to look at is whether one of you has actually changed more than the other. This isn’t always easy to face, but it doesn’t have to break you up. Think about how you can still be happy and make your relationship work, even if you’ve both changed a lot since first meeting – making sure that you still connect as a couple on important issues is crucial.
A sometimes forgotten rule is that of appreciation; most people thrive when thanked for the little things that they do – criticism can chip away at your partner and your relationship. Remember to show your appreciation when your partner does something to please you – as well as little touches like getting you a cup of tea when you’re tired, there’s also things like thanking them (and vice-versa) for working long hours to provide for your home and children if you have them. These things don’t just happen – they take some effort.
Money problems can be the ruin of a lot of relationships and there’s no wrong or right attitude towards finances but if you have different ways of saving and spending, it can be a real source of friction. The biggest thing though is not having enough money to get through the week and, since Covid, a lot more couples are finding the pinch. Arguing about it won’t help but constructive ways of looking for solutions might well be the answer and if you work together to deal with it, hopefully you’ll find that it brings you closer.
Boredom can put a real dampener on a relationship, so one rule might be to periodically try to create a bit more excitement within your relationship by getting out of a rut, joining a club together or taking up an interest that involves both of you and any children that you might have together. Every relationship changes over time but that doesn’t mean that it has to be monotonous – now’s the time to be part of the solution if you’re feeling bored.
Co-parenting children can be a real hassle if you have different parenting styles but these often relate back to our own childhoods and what we assume is the norm. A ‘rule’ here could be some house rules that you agree on as a family and all try to stick to. Children pick up on conflict between their parents and often use it to get what they want from one parent or another so having some basic rules that you both keep to makes sense. Also, you’ll still be a couple when your children have left home so trying to find time for each other now is an investment in your future together.
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