Let's face it: Relationships aren't always easy. You know those couples who seem like they just never fell out of their teenage love affair...well, it's probably because they act like adults in private. But being an adult in a relationship isn't a torturous "ball and chain" or about leaving your inner kid behind. Here are a few tips from the life I've lived.
Take Care of Yourself
You really can't be good to anyone else if you aren't good to yourself. There are many reasons for this. One of the more spiritual ones is that you have to take care of yourself and make "me" time because that's how you learn to love abundantly. To love yourself is to learn to forgive so you don't have to hold onto pain, to find your passions and stay true to them, and to find empathy for others from your own acceptance of self. On a more practical level, when you feel refreshed and you've taken care of yourself, you have more energy and patience to give to others.
Be Open To Being Uncomfortable
A real relationship means there will be tough conversations at times. It's just the truth. You have to be willing to sit through uncomfortable situations. You have to be willing to accept that there will be times you can't do anything to help the other person, and the only way to be there is to be present. This can be feel very unpleasant, since our nature is to try to make things better and happy. Whether it's a situation between you and your partner or your partner going through something outside of the relationship, sometimes all you can do is be there.
Listen to Hear, Not to Respond.
Almost all of us have the habit of getting defensive or feeling like we need to get our point across at times. The problem with going into a conversation with that mindset is that we don't actually listen to the person talking to us. A confrontational, me-versus-you approach is one of the least productive things you can bring to a relationship, so, pause, take a breath, and listen to your partner.
Compliment Yourself, The Other, and Your Relationship.
Think of these as three separate entities because in a healthy relationship, they are. It's a really different thought when you say "I love us" versus "I love the person I am". I find that drawing these distinctions helps me understand and appreciate the idea "I love who I am with you." It starts with loving yourself as a separate entity. It makes you so much more grateful for your relationship. I often say things like, "I love how resilient I am", "I love how giving you are", or "I love that we always make each other laugh even in the bad times", treating each one with equal respect.
Trust The Connection
Life happens. Work happens. Travel happens. Things will get in the way of prioritizing your relationship, but if you have a real connection, you will always find your way back. The more you argue about feeling disconnected, the more disconnected you will feel. So, let it go, organize date nights when possible, appreciate the order-in Netflix evening, and don't freak out about it. There is a reason you're together and if it falls apart despite your best efforts, it probably would have anyway.
Honestly, Stop Taking It So Seriously
When I met my partner, I was a nightmare. I took everything so seriously. I was very insecure, so I made took everything as a reflection on me. I felt so threatened by his exes, and would fight with him over everything. Chalk it up to being 20, because flash forward to now, and most of our arguments end in laughing. I absolutely love his high school sweetheart (she's honestly so sweet and interesting), and we hardly fight. Things that feel important in the moment often really don't matter in the future, so unless it's something "real" (like cheating, abuse, disrespect, etc.), it can likely be solved with a joke and a really good conversation.