The Beginning Stages
|While the early months of a relationship can feel effortless and exciting, successful long-term relationships involve ongoing effort and compromise by both partners. Building healthy patterns early in your relationship can establish a solid foundation for the long run. When you are just starting a relationship, it is important to:|
As the Months Go By: Important Things to Recognize as Your Relationship Grows
|Relationships Change. Changes in life outside your relationship will impact what you want and need from the relationship. Since change is inevitable, welcoming it as an opportunity to enhance the relationship is more fruitful than trying to keep it from happening.|
Check in Periodically. Occasionally set aside time to check in with each other on changing expectations and goals. If a couple ignores difficult topics for too long, their relationship is likely to drift into rocky waters without their noticing.
What to Do When Conflict Arises
|Disagreements in a relationship are not only normal but, if constructively resolved, actually strengthen the relationship. It is inevitable that there will be times of sadness, tension, or outright anger between you and your partner. The source of these problems may lie in unrealistic/unreasonable demands, unexplored expectations, or unresolved issues/behaviors in one partner or in the relationship. Resolving conflicts requires honesty, a willingness to consider your partner's perspective even if you don't fully understand it, and lots of communication.|
Healthy communication is critical, especially when there are important decisions regarding sex, career, marriage, and family to be made. The following are some guidelines for successful communication and conflict resolution.
Healthy and Problematic Expectations in Relationships
|Each of us enters into romantic relationships with ideas about what we want based on family relationships, what we've seen in the media, and our own past relationship experiences. Holding on to unrealistic expectations can cause a relationship to be unsatisfying and to eventually fail. The following will help you to distinguish between healthy and problematic relationship expectations:|
Outside Pressures on the Relationship
|Differences in Background. Even partners coming from very similar cultural, religious, or economic backgrounds can benefit from discussing their expectations of how a good boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse behaves. What seems obvious or normal to you may surprise your partner, and vice versa. If you are from different backgrounds, be aware that you may need to spend more time and energy to build your relationship. Take the time to learn about your partner's culture or religion, being careful to check out what parts of such information actually fit for your partner.|
Time Together and Apart. How much time you spend together and apart is a common relationship concern. If you interpret your partner's time apart from you as, "he or she doesn't care for me as much as I care for him or her," you may be headed for trouble by jumping to conclusions. Check out with your partner what time alone means to him or her, and share your feelings about what you need from the relationship in terms of time together. Demanding what you want, regardless of your partner's needs, usually ends up driving your partner away, so work on reaching a compromise.
Your Partner's Family. For many students, families remain an important source of emotional, if not financial, support during their years at the university. Some people find dealing with their partner's family difficult or frustrating. It can help to take a step back and think about parental good intentions. Families may offer well-intentioned advice about your relationship or your partner. It's important that the two of you discuss and agree on how you want to respond to differing family values and support one another in the face of what can be very intense "suggestions" from family.
Friends. There are some people who seem to believe that "I have to give up all my friends unless my partner likes them as much as I do." Giving up friends is not healthy for you or the relationship, except in circumstances where your friends pressure you to participate in activities that are damaging to yourself and the relationship. At the same time, keep in mind that your partner may not enjoy your friends as much as you do. Negotiate which friends you and your partner spend time with together. You might ask: "Which of my friends do you enjoy seeing and which ones would you rather I see alone or at other times when I'm not with you?"
Eight Basic Steps to Maintaining a Good Relationship