Money. Sex. Kids. How you set the thermostat. Leaving dirty dishes in the sink. Whatever it is you and your partner find yourselves bickering about most often, you may be wondering if the relationship can last long term. Relationships are hard work, explains counselor Jessica Baum, but reframing a few key things can help make things easier
5 Must-Have Relationship Insights to Build a Lasting Partnership
- The “honeymoon phase” is very real: When you first meet someone and there are fireworks inside you, it feels SO good! Research says this phase lasts anywhere from two days to two years. Our brains actually release “feel good” chemicals like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin when we start dating someone.
- So is what comes next: Our brains don’t pump out those goodies forever. The “love buzz” wears off, and we enter into the next natural stage of the relationship. Often times when this happens, people think that there’s something wrong in the relationship, but that’s not the case. It’s just time to navigate the less glamorous elements, like working through conflict.
- Taking ownership is everything: If you don’t know how to take ownership for your mistakes, you’ll never be really successful. The same goes for your partner. If you pick someone who can never say they’re sorry or own their behaviors — someone who always blames you — you’re in trouble. The blame game is problematic. A sign that you’re in a healthy relationship is when you can own your flaws and mistakes, and so can your partner. Taking ownership requires you to step into challenging feelings like shame or guilt so you can work through them and change your behavior. When we are brave and willing to take an honest, deep look within, we can step into responsibility. That is the catalyst for change and connection.
- Conflict is good: In order for a relationship to work, both parties have to openly speak their truth, which can lead to conflict. Avoiding conflict isn’t healthy; learning effective conflict resolution skills is. The best relationships happen when you can be yourself without overcompensating for your partner. Having a strong voice and speaking your truth will make you more appealing to your partner. If you lose your voice and overcompensate all the time, you lose your healthy autotomy and could possibly build resentment down the road.
- Romantic relationships bring out core fears: Your core fears will come up in your most romantic relationship. They are part of you, and the person who gets closest to you will activate old wounds. For example, if you have a fear of abandonment, that will come up. Or if you felt not good enough as a child, your partner will indirectly hit that nerve with you. Whatever is left unresolved in you will show up. Too often, we blame our partner for all our pain when in reality that pain is back logged. In fact, what is happening in the moment is about 10% of the cause of your experience if it feels overwhelming; the other 90% is your old “stuff.” This means that your current upset is deeper and older than you think. Your partner may be doing something that is causing you pain in the moment, but the pain is extra intense when you have felt that way before. Stay aware and stay open about exploring where the feeling started so you can take some blame off your partner.