It’s been a little over two years since I met my partner, and although we are not perfect, we find ourselves agreeing that we are still in the honeymoon phase and may be in it for a while or forever. Many come out of this phase much sooner and are in miserable or just average relationships where they tell themselves this is “good enough.” I mean, there’s so much more to life than “good enough.” And maybe it’s being greedy or unrealistic to some, but I firmly believe that it is possible to have intense lasting relationships. Here are a few things we follow to keep the spark alive.
Don’t be complacent. Many find themselves essentially giving up after getting some commitment, or getting engaged or married. They see dating as a necessary evil to trap strangers into being their life partners. Some men pretend that they are this gentleman that opens doors, pays for everything, cooks breakfast, and goes to the gym regularly only to stop doing all that when they pass a certain commitment level. Some women develop a certain physique and spend a lot of time and effort on their looks only to give up after getting married. At some point, most people just give up. They used attractive traits to lure people into relationships and then do a bait and switch once the target has been acquired. Unfortunately for these victims, they’ve been sold on the narrative that they’re shallow or disloyal if they leave now that their partners are no longer desirable. I believe that partners should definitely have some common loyalty to stay together through thick and thin, but not when one partner decides to make the situation “thin” out of pure complacency.
Perform your role. Even with modern relationships being more egalitarian nowadays, both partners have roles to play in the household. If the man has established himself in the beginning of the relationship as the breadwinner and the woman as the primary homemaker, there will be some resentment if the man suddenly stops providing or if the woman stops maintaining the home and children. It’s important to recognize what your role is and to keep performing it lest your partner resents you and dissolves the partnership. There can definitely be overlap between roles, and in this case, it’s best to maintain your share of the role and don’t even think about slacking off.
Set expectations. Life is all about managing expectations. By being honest with your partner about what is and isn’t possible in the relationship or cohabitation, life gets so much easier. For example, I’m no domestic goddess. Our house doesn’t look like that much of a mess because I was upfront with my partner that my homemaking skills are not my greatest assets. And let’s be real, I didn’t market myself as a homemaker but rather an active 20-something who likes yoga and free dinners. When you are honest with your partner about what to expect, you leave it up to them if they will accept those terms and leaves little room in the future for them to complain. In the same vein, when your partner tells you what to expect from them, don’t try to change them and imagine what great potential he has or if only he changed this one thing. You can only expect the same grace you give others.
Keep growing. I know I said to never date potential, but there’s no harm in improving yourself while in a relationship, and if a partner feels threatened or is unsupportive of you doing so, then it’s time to lose about 200 lbs. Whether it be wanting to be a better cook, painter, writer, day trader, or moving up your career ladder, go for it! Don’t be afraid of falling out of compatibility with a partner because you have changed too much. Life is a process, and there is no use hanging on to people who cannot grow with you.
Have your own life. Some women find themselves adapting their lives to fit the man they are with. They have shrunk their world so much to make it revolve around their man, and in most cases, though flattered, the man feels suffocated. Keep hanging out with your girlfriends, have a busy social schedule, have your own hobbies, etc. Let it be known that you have your own life outside of him and don’t spend all day waiting for him to come home or make him feel bad for spending the weekend with the boys. Relationships are not two halves joining to make a whole; it’s two complete people coming together as one kickass unit.
Like I said, we’re not perfect and I don’t pretend that we are, but what I can say is that we are fulfilled with having each other in our lives. By investing in our relationships in terms of time and effort, we invest in our future happiness. There is no point in relationships that are “good enough.” We deserve better than that.