While we like for our romantic books and movies to end with the couple living “happily ever after,” anyone who has ever been in a long-term relationship knows that that state is very difficult to achieve in real life. At Community Reach Center, we believe that maintaining a healthy long-term relationship requires a great deal of time and effort. But if the commitment is there, it absolutely can be done.
In it for the Long Haul
If you and your partner are truly focused on going the distance, here are some strategies you can use to help ensure you do:
- Compromise. Early in relationships, things tend to be more of a 50/50 split. Their wants and needs and yours are honored equally. But over time, it’s not uncommon for us to grow a little selfish and develop stronger preferences for the things we want to see or do or eat, the people we want to spend time with and the like. In order to maintain a healthy relationship, it’s important to recognize that shift and resist it.
- Be open and honest about your feelings. Effective communication is critical to successful long-term relationships. Sometimes we begin to keep things inside because we don’t want to “bother” our partner. In other cases, we may want to hang on to certain emotions because we feel it puts us in a position of power. Whatever the reason, it’s important to avoid building walls or coloring the truth when it comes to how we’re feeling. You put your partner at an unfair disadvantage if you are withholding information on your emotional state.
- Know that nobody ever “wins” an argument. When the focus of an argument becomes more about “winning” than resolving the issue, both of you lose. It’s much more conducive to a positive outcome to say early and often in a disagreement that the goal is to find a mutually acceptable solution to the problem. That can be difficult, but when it is, refer to item No. 1 above!
- Understand how your partner expresses love. Even for couples who have been together for many years, it’s easy to forget how their partner tends to demonstrate love. Taking time to recognize and appreciate those expressions is the best way to keep them coming.
- Refuse to use the silent treatment. While we may try to tell ourselves that it’s better to remain silent than to say something hurtful, the truth is that receiving the silent treatment can be just as painful, and it can be just as damaging to a relationship. What’s more, there are more than two options in that scenario. A third would be speaking your mind but refraining from using angry, emotion-laden language. Carefully chosen words can go a long way toward resolving a conflict.
- Give them space. For some people it almost feels unnatural to be apart. But the truth is, we all need our space, even if that need doesn’t ever or often make it to the level of consciousness. And, absence truly does make the heart grow fonder.
Long-term Relationships and Mental Health
Healthy long-term relationships can have a powerfully positive influence on mental and emotional health. If you’re looking for a mental health center in the Denver area, you can contact us at Community Reach Center online at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.