We all want love to be like it seems in the movies. A romantic soundtrack, long walks on the beach and eternal happiness with the person of your dreams. But the truth is, life often gets in the way of romance.
It might seem impossible in the early stages of a relationship to imagine yourself rowing with the other person. But as you grow more comfortable with each other, things can start getting on your nerves. Every relationship has its ups and downs so it’s normal to argue. But if you find your arguments lasting for days, or spiralling into shouting matches, it’s time to improve your communication skills as a couple.
If an argument ever turns violent, you may be in an abusive relationship. Take action immediately to get out of the situation.
Dealing with arguments
Look for the real issue – arguments about money, housework or sex are often about other problems under the surface. So an argument about who washes up could be about not taking each other for granted, while a row about money could be about respecting boundaries. Try to deal with the real issue at the heart of the argument, through honest communication.
Don’t get defensive – communication is great, but it’s no good getting offended every time your boyfriend or girlfriend points out something that’s bothering them. You might not agree with them, but try to listen and take their feelings on board without getting angry.
Explain your mood – if you’re in a bad mood you’ll want your boyfriend or girlfriend to go easy on you. But if you don’t tell them about your mood, how can you expect them to tread softly? Don’t expect the other person to be a mind-reader.
Say sorry – one of the hardest words in the English language to say is “sorry”. If you know you’re in the wrong, admit it. Don’t persist with your argument for the sake of your pride. It shows maturity in a relationship if you can admit defeat and move on.
Let things go – holding grudges can build up resentment in a relationship. If you’ve discussed something and come to a resolution, don’t file your boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s misdeeds away so you can bring them up during the next argument.
Keeping it exciting
Excitement levels can decrease once you’ve been with someone a while, but that’s normal. The “butterflies” in your stomach you felt whenever you saw your new girlfriend or boyfriend might be gone, but this can turn into a sense of closeness. Which is also pretty great.
Some tips for keeping your relationship exciting:
Be romantic – the excitement of a new relationship often fades, but that doesn’t mean you should let things get boring. Keep the romance alive by making time for each other, going on dates and not taking each other for granted.
Give each other space – it can be nice to share everything with your partner, from having the same friends, to taking the same college course. But if the relationship is going to last, it’s important each of you have separate lives and interests. That way neither of you will feel crowded.
Speak to someone else – talking to someone you trust can help you figure out whether you’re just going through a bad patch with your boyfriend or girlfriend, or whether you need to move on. See support from friends and family for more.
One of the pitfalls of a long-term relationship is feeling attracted to other people. Is it possible to stay faithful and happy in a committed relationship? High numbers of people admit to cheating on their partners, with many relationships failing because of infidelity. Experts say communication is the key to avoiding mistrust and temptation in a relationship.
Some tips on how to stay faithful:
Talk – if you feel attracted to other people, tell your partner how you feel. They may be feeling the same way. Being open about feeling tempted can build trust between you and prevent it from becoming a guilty secret. Sometimes it’s ok to flirt with other people, as long as you’re aware of the boundaries and respect your partner.
Shake things up – if you feel like the excitement is fading, inject life into your relationship by going on a romantic date or holiday. If you’re sexually active with your partner, trying new things can stop the relationship from becoming too routine. However, make sure both people in the relationship are comfortable before deciding to experiment. See sex with a new partner for more.
Make them feel special – taking your partner for granted means when other people show them attention they’ll feel flattered. We’re often automatically attracted to people when we know they like us. Make sure your partner knows how much you like them so they won’t feel swept away by validation from another source.
Work it out together
Relationship problems can occur for many reasons - from poor communication to having different expectations. No relationship runs smoothly all of the time. If we recognise this and try to handle difficult times together, then it’s possible to remain happy together in a long-term relationship. If you and your partner feel you can’t work out your problems together, talk to someone outside the situation. Relationship counselling can help both people to be honest about their feelings. See face-to-face help for more.