Relationship dos and don’ts

When it comes to a relationship, most of us simply stumble along, make mistakes, and get our hearts broken. The lucky ones find someone; others never do. If you’re really blessed you had good parents who displayed a healthy relationship for you. If not, you may have had to rely on trial and error. But the good news is there are certain steps you can take in your dating relationships to build a stronger relationship.

1. Don’t be passive aggressive

Passive aggressiveness is never saying exactly what is upsetting you, never communicating openly or clearly but getting upset or pissed off when your partner cannot read your mind. In a good relationship both individuals should feel safe expressing their anger, likes, dislikes and insecurities. For example, instead of silently storming silently out of the room when my partner ignores me, I might say, “Stephen, when you don’t mute the television when I talk to you it makes me feel like you don’t care about what I am telling you.”

This does two things: clearly states the behavior that is irritating you and let’s your partner know how their actions affect you. This also allows your partner to not only modify their behavior, but clears up any misunderstandings about their motivations and intentions.

2. Don’t criticize your partner in a relationship

If you find the need to criticize your partner, especially in public, it’s time to take a good look at whether or not you have found the right person. It also says a lot about you. Maybe you are insecure? Maybe you need to feel superior or smart? Yes, giving and receiving feedback are important. In fact, good constructive feedback can be an act of respect, especially if it is intended to help another person do better or be better. But good constructive feedback generally is made in private and is not done with a snide, snarky, or sarcastic tone.

3. Don’t be too rigid in a relationship

If you are a parent or trying to have a relationship, if you live long enough, you’ll find that there are more than one means to an end. Of course there are moral absolutes, but in a relationship does it really matter if ketchup is put in the door or on the shelf? Or whether the toilet paper goes over or under the roll? Spend enough time worrying about the details of life and making other people miserable and you’ll find yourself alone.

4. Understand how your partner receives love in the relationship

We all receive love differently. For some physical affection says I love you. For others it doesn’t. Others love their partner to help them with the dishes. Others love a nice bouquet of flowers. Some people simply want their partner to listen to them talk. According to Gary Chapman, in the Five Languages of Love, people receive love in the following ways: physical touch, acts of service, quality time, gift giving or word of affirmation. If you watch what your partner is doing for you, you will have a good clue about what is important to them. Talk to them. Ask them when they feel most loved by you, then try and do those things for them.

Having a good relationship doesn’t have to be that difficult. But it starts by choosing the right partner then being the right partner.

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