At the start, being in a relationship feels wonderful.
It’s so nice being with someone who wants to be with you, too. And you’re both caught up in the excitement of it, enjoying the way you just seem to ‘fit’ together, confident that together, as a couple, you can take on the world, bound for the Happily Ever After sunset.
We all want to know how to have a healthy relationship that lasts. But, the path to true love is not easy.
And what makes romantic relationships strange is that, although relationships have their own momentum, you can’t rely on it.
Sometimes, that momentum just stalls and stops you from seeing that they’re headed downhill — until it’s too late.
What can you do to keep the momentum going and guarantee that you and your partner will continue to enjoy that loving feeling through the years and the decades, together?
Here are the 3 simple hacks that will solidify your love even when the going gets tough so you can have a healthy relationship.
1. Put him on the 5:2 diet
What is the 5:2 diet? It’s an intermittent fasting diet that can work when it comes to keeping the weight off.
And you can use principles from this type of diet to help your relationship by keeping the resentments and the emotional detachment away.
When it comes to the 5:2 Emotional Diet, you need to do it slightly differently. Every day, you need to find 5 positive things (minimum) to say to your partner for every 2 critical or negative things.
Before you start, spend a couple of days writing your ‘Diet Journal’. Make a note of how many positive and supportive things you say to him during the course of the day and how many, well, are less than positive things.
Now, you could argue, “Yes, but it’s not just about me. What about the negative things he says? Or all the times he doesn’t talk at all?”
The conventional 5:2 diet works because people follow it. If they read up about it and then said, “Yes, but I can’t follow it until another person in my life does first,” nothing would change.
2. Never deny him a sandwich
Nobody’s suggesting your partner is perfect — any more than you are. Both of you will make mistakes and have your own foibles.
It’s easy to focus on what your nearest and dearest person is doing wrong.
The problem is that most people are not idiots, they can work out for themselves when they’ve messed up. Worse, they hate seeing their partner slip effortlessly into the role of Displeased Parent in order to read them, chapter and verse.
Speaking your mind may provide you with some short-term satisfaction. Equally, it will provide your partner with some short, medium, and even long-term irritation and resentments.
What should you do, instead?
Brush up on your feedback-sandwich making. Most people know how to make feedback-sandwich — they just don’t do it terribly often.
Maybe they feel they shouldn’t have to. You probably shouldn’t have to “take evasive action” at the wheel, but if a juggernaut is heading straight for you, you probably won’t argue the toss. You’ll just do what makes sense — the same goes for the feedback-sandwich.
Couples in healthy relationships should make one for each other.
When you sandwich the direct piece of information you want to share between two since and positive statements, you stand a much better chance of keeping the lines of communication open and getting your partner to listen.
Instead of saying, “How could you possibly say that to X?”, try something more subtle.
“Darling, I know how much you care about making sure people do the right things and, I’m wondering, do you think X might just have misunderstood that as a direct attack? That would be such a shame because you’re really good at encouraging people to think things through for themselves.”
Will ‘Darling’ feel more disposed to impress you some more, next time? You betcha!
3. Pay your partner more attention
If you have a pet, that pet tends to get your undivided attention.
You don’t get home from work and say, “Hey, Kitty, I’ve had a tough day. Don’t you think that for once in your life you could clean the litter-tray yourself?”
Admittedly, Kitty can’t do that but the point remains: you focus on giving and receiving love, not reproaches, with your pet.
Don’t forget to do that with your human, especially if that human has become a little rusty, where giving and receiving attention is concerned.
Even if your relationship has lost momentum or is sliding downhill, you always have choices.
First, you can walk away and start over. The problem is, if you haven’t learned how to change the behaviors that aren’t working for you right now, you may well end up in the same impasse with a different partner.
Second, you can keep on doing what you’ve always done in the hope that your partner will change and start transforming his behavior in ways his direction shows no signs of pursuing right now.
Third, start using these 3 simple mind-hacks. Miracles probably won’t happen overnight. But, if you stick with it, over a 3-month period, you and your partner will start enjoying that loving feeling again.
And this time you’ll know exactly how to keep that love alive.
Dr. Annie Kaszina is an author, counselor/therapist, and coach. If you’re not sure where to start or how to keep your relationship on track, e-mail Annie for a Relationship Breakthrough Consultation and discover what’s really possible for you.