So your mom says this is how she and dad always did things, but committed relationships and marriages are changing constantly. Yes, people are lining up to get divorced all the time, but maybe we need to start rethinking the rules of the game and approach our own relationships with a fresh perspective. Check out some of these archaic rules and why you might want to think about breaking them.
- Don’t go to bed mad. This is probably the oldest one in the book. You may have heard not to let the sun go down on your anger, but when you’ve had a long day, are tired, stressed and now in a full-blown fight with your significant other, is it really the best time to hash things out? Experts say that sometimes it’s ok to agree to disagree. Go to bed, get some needed rest and approach the argument from a different mental place the next day.
- Honesty is the best policy. Or is it? We all have a past, but that doesn’t mean we need to share the intimate details of our former endeavors with our current partner. Retelling of past events often conjures up comparisons and feelings of inadequacy. Remember that your partner has feelings, so be polite and caring when you decide to divulge details, even if they’re the ones asking the questions.
- Never vacation separately. Often couples are expected to spend their off-times together, but this could actually lead to other problems. Perhaps your idea of the perfect vacation is a chilly trip to Alaska, while theirs is sipping a margarita on a warm beach. It’s ok to grab a friend for a getaway without your significant other, just make sure they’re OK with it.
- Fighting equals divorce. The truth is that couples that don’t fight are likely holding back their true feelings in an attempt to avoid conflict, which is more likely to make you split up in the long run. Be honest about your feelings in a healthy, non-blaming way. Stifling your concerns isn’t being fair to you or your partner, keeping in mind that communication is at the heart of every great relationship.
- Kids come first. Often couples will put their own relationship on hold in the name of being good parents, but usually this comes with a hefty price tag. Your kids need to see a loving bond between the two of you and that will benefit their idea of what family means in the long run. Make some time for “couple stuff” and don’t talk about kids, bills or the cat’s vomiting problem. Remember why you fell in love in the first place and go from there.
- Never sleep in separate beds. Getting a good night’s sleep is important for everyone. Proper sleep helps you focus at work, gives you energy during the day and stabilizes your moods. If you’re not getting the proper rest because your partner snores, shakes, talks or throws off too much heat, it’s ok to camp out in the guest room once in a while. Just make sure you’re not doing this to avoid intimacy. That’s a whole different issue.
- Adopt the same hobbies. Relationships are about compromise, and while it’s not ideal for you to spend every waking moment training for the Ironman competition while your partner golfs every course in a 100 mile radius, giving up your own hobbies breaks down your independence, and that can make people feel trapped. Make sure you’re cultivating your own spirit and find activities to you both love from time to time.
- The spark is gone. It’s over. Wrong! Couples should understand that it’s not going to always be roses, rainbows and butterflies. This should be obvious, right? But sometimes people get caught up in the over-romanticized notion that it has to be fireworks day and night. Most long-term relationships survive because of a bond created out of love, trust and commitment. Relationships are multifaceted and change over time. You have to nurture that change and help guide it in the direction you both want to go.
- Boredom is bad. There’s a difference between having a calm and stable relationship and a plain bad one. Knowing your partner will be home at 6:00 pm is better than enduring the drama of wondering whether they’re coming home at all. Sure, we get stuck in routines and ruts, but that’s what vacations and activities with your mate are for.