Anyone who has been in a committed relationship for a while knows that it is a common reality to feel more in love than ever one day, and then spend the next wanting to slap your spouse over something seemingly unimportant. So, why is that? And how do we get passed those bad times and back to those so-in-love moments faster? After 10 years with my guy, I’ve decided that the key is learning how to prevent everyday problems from hijacking your relationship. I truly believe that if more couples could master this there would be more happy people and less divorce.
[Note: I’m not a professional counselor, life coach or anything of that nature. I just have a lot of experience trying to figure out how to be happy more often than not in my relationship. And, I feel that I have some valuable insight to share].
Living in Reality
Many people start to have issues after the “honeymoon phase.” Why does all of the stress seem to come crashing down after you get back from your honeymoon? Or once those first months of new-love bliss have ended? Usually because during that time you were in a little bubble of love, living in your own reality. And, once you go back to real life, you are burdened with all of the obligations, responsibilities and drama that come with adulting. Plus, now you have another person’s issues to worry about too! It can feel like you are being buried alive!
The Wrong Way of Dealing with Everyday Stress
All-of-a-sudden, financial decisions must be made, the family fights resume. And to top it off, your personal insecurities come back with a vengeance. While most of these things are common problems, they can still create tension in relationships. After a few stressful days, you may find yourself completely losing your shit. And usually it is over things like unwashed dishes or forgotten plans or that speeding ticket she got.
Eventually your relationship feels like WORK! Soon that little devil appears on your shoulder and whispers “Do you even still love each other?” S-T-O-P! I’ve heard this nonsense too many times and it is freaking idiotic.
The Avoidable Fight Cycle
Life is frustrating and confusing and some days are just going to be downright awful. But, it is not your spouse’s fault that you had a shitty day at work. And they didn’t purposefully mess up the house just to intensify your bad day. So don’t treat them like they did.
Expecting that being in love will make you happy all the time is childish. And, thinking you aren’t in love because you aren’t happy at the current moment is really stupid and unrealistic.
Usually they have the same stressors as you. Or they are at least able to understand what you might be going through – or they want to. Holding feelings inside is a recipe for disaster and expecting your significant other to have a magic way of fixing everything for you is a road to major disappointment.
But one of the worst things you can do is believe they are causing problems they have no control over, and treat them as though that is true.
Being in love isn’t about being happy all the time. It is about being committed to someone despite the circumstances because they mean so much to you. It is possible to be in love – and even genuinely feel it – when you are overcome with anger or disappointment from everyday or major life-altering problems. You have to change your habit of automatically blaming your significant other or doubting your relationship and start pointing the blame where it is due.
How to Adjust Your Thinking
First, take a deep breath (or ten) next time you are upset with your S.O. Then, close your damn mouth. And don’t say anything until you have a clear understanding of the underlying problems. I promise screaming, cursing and making accusations won’t help the situation.
Find the Source!
Next, try to think of where the feelings are really stemming from. Usually the true problem is a personal or external issue that we are projecting on the one we love most because they have the misfortune of being there.
Maybe it was a bad day at work or being overwhelmed by responsibilities. Perhaps a friend or family member disappointed you or that lying jerk of a scale says you gained ten pounds. Maybe you aren’t able to get pregnant, you can’t find a job, you hate where you live or your cat won’t snuggle with you (this can’t be just me!). Whatever it is, learn to recognize where to issue is coming from.
Give Your Spouse a Break
I’m not saying your spouse can’t or shouldn’t help resolve the issue. Or that they aren’t making a mistake. Maybe they have no idea what you are going through. Or maybe they really are being inconsiderate. BUT unleashing absolute fury on them for forgetting to put a plate in the dishwasher is a bit much.
And, if you are able to identify what the true problem is, it can really help your spouse WANT to make you feel better. “I’m feeling really overwhelmed and when you don’t help around the house it makes me feel like I’m going to have an anxiety attack,” is a vast improvement from yelling “You are such an inconsiderate asshole.” I believe most people in committed relationships want each other to be happy. And probably even more so, they want a peaceful existence together.
I think most divorces happen over small things that get blown out of proportion and mask the love you once had for each other. Holding on to the perceived problem and letting it fester into a hate spiral can lead to so much destruction. So, don’t let it. Find out what is really igniting your issues.
Look for a Solution Together
Once you learn the difference between the perceived problem (ex: your S.O. doesn’t care about you at all), and the real problem (ex: you are super stressed and freaking out), it is time to have an honest, calm talk about what’s going on in order to try to find a solution together.
Figure Out What You Need
Sometimes this may just mean giving each other space to cool off. Don’t turn it into a new self-esteem driven issue. Of course you would like to be able to fix the world for each other. But sometimes you can’t. Often a little time to think or pray or just zone out can really make all the difference.
Dealing with Bigger Problems
For problems bigger than a bad day or misunderstanding, the solutions may involve more of a sacrifice. Maybe you go on a strict budget to save up for a vacation you both really need. Or maybe you stop spending so much time with family or friends that are the root cause of issues. Maybe one of you needs to make a career change or big financial decision to alleviate some burden.
The key is to work on it together. Even if you are figuring out your personal career or family issues, let your partner support you through that difficult process. And, if they know what is going on they are usually way quicker to forgive you if you do accidentally snap at them.
The Great Rewards
Once you learn to be realistic about your issues and communicate openly about them, you will likely realize that many of those “relationship problems” you thought you had are actually just normal life problems. And, since you both aren’t busy pointing fingers at each other, you can actually come together hand-in-hand to work on a solution.
The most amazing thing about this is that, instead of feeling like you are falling out of love during the most stressful times – you feel closer than ever. You may be pissed off over the situation. But chances are, your partner is too. And having someone to stand by your side at the worst moments, can be even more special than having them there at the best.