“To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on miraculous,” wrote Elizabeth Gilbert.
Often, we see our partner for who they are, but we forget that we, ourselves, are human too.
Two imperfect people can have a difficult time loving perfectly. However, when we do manage to build something wonderful, it is important to preserve it. The world – and our own imperfections – can be quick to tear it down.
Here are four common relationship killers, and some strategies for overcoming them:
1. We struggle with…money.
The thought that love and money have nothing to do with one another is a romantic one – but it isn’t realistic. In fact, according to a Citibank survey, 57% of divorced couples cited money problems as the primary reason for the demise of their marriage. Use these tips to get your wallets back in sync:
- Set savings goals together. Celebrate when you accomplish them.
- Budget together. Be clear, conservative, and as specific as possible. Ensure that both partners understand the budget and are comfortable with their spending limitations.
- Communicate – not just about dollar amounts, but about general philosophies and attitudes regarding money. Your partner’s priorities may be very different from your own. Understanding these can help to navigate financial problems without creating conflict.
- Be open and honest about money. Don’t hide expensive purchases or try to keep your debt a secret. Work as a team.
2. We struggle with…trust.
Without a strong sense of trust, a relationship is sure to fall apart. As J.M. Barrie wrote, “All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.” Try these strategies to strengthen your trust in your partner:
- Make an effort to set and maintain healthy boundaries. Respect your partner’s boundaries, even if you do not understand or agree with them.
- Let past mistakes stay in the past. Don’t bring them up in an effort to hurt your partner in the heat of the moment.
- Follow through on your promises – even the small ones. Be on time. Keep your commitments. Call when you said you would call, and do what you said you would do.
- Be consistently honest with your partner. Don’t tell white lies to avoid jealousy or spare feelings. Once your lie is discovered, your partner will wonder what else you have been keeping from them.
3. We struggle with…sex.
A healthy sex life keeps a couple connected spiritually, emotionally, and, of course, physically. As Woody Allen wrote, “I don’t know the question, but sex is definitely the answer.” If your sex life is lacking, try one of these tips to get it back on track:
- Try something new. It’s easy to fall into a sexual rut, especially when you’ve been with your partner for a very long time. A change in position or location can help to revitalize things. Maybe even try your hand at role-playing, or invest in some fun lingerie. Get creative!
- Tell your partner exactly what it is about them you find sexy. We all feel more inclined to be sexual when we know we are desired.
- Exchange lists of things that turn each of you on. You might be surprised – and inspired – by what you discover!
- Plan a regular “sex date”. It doesn’t sound very sexy, but it can be truly effective for busy couples who often let sex fall to the wayside. Plan to get it on at a time when you will both be energized – for example, a Saturday morning.
4. We struggle with…communication.
Good communication is a key component in a healthy relationship. In fact, without good communication, none of the problems above can be tackled at all. When you find yourself struggling to communicate with your partner, try one of these strategies to reconnect:
- Be conscious of giving your partner your full attention. When they are speaking, look them in the eye and remove all distractions. Your phone, TV, and computer should not be a part of the conversation. Don’t interrupt or tune out when you disagree.
- Repeat and rephrase your partner’s words to make sure you are hearing them fully and accurately.
- Be purposeful in maintaining a calm tone and kind body language. Be conscious of the message you are sending outside of your words.
- Set aside time to communicate intentionally each day – whether you are engaged in conflict or not. Share the day’s high and low points with one another. Tell your partner what made you laugh or what made you cry. Staying connected on a daily basis can help you to conquer miscommunications more effectively, or avoid them altogether.
“I no longer believed in the idea of soul mates, or love at first sight. But I was beginning to believe that a very few times in your life, if you were lucky, you might meet someone who was exactly right for you. Not because he was perfect, or because you were, but because your combined flaws were arranged in a way that allowed two separate beings to hinge together,” wrote Lisa Kleypas.
If you have found this kind of connection, don’t let it break over one of these trivial problems. Work hard, and keep your loving bond together. You will both be much stronger for having weathered the storm.