How to Maintain a Healthy, Lasting Relationship โค๏ธ

It’s been 847 days since Joe asked me to be his girlfriend and I said yes. Some people ask me how we’re still able to maintain the “honeymoon phase” of our relationship. Of course Joe and I have conflicts also. We’re two imperfect human beings coming from different backgrounds, trying to build a solid relationship. It’d be impossible not to get into any arguments or become disappointed at each other sometimes because what it takes to mend the differences between us are constant sacrifice and understanding. I actually say that a couple that goes through no conflicts at all is not in a healthy relationship. If anyone in a relationship tells you that he or she is always good with his or her partner, it’s either because: 1.) (S)he is constantly pretending to be okay with everything or 2.) (S)he doesn’t meet/converse with his/her partner enough to discern the differences that exist between them.

A couple in a healthy relationship is not one that avoids conflicts but one that is willing to overcome obstacles together and grow closer to each other. I love Joe enough to think that he is worthy of my sacrificed time and money; I love him to the point where it’d hurt me more to lose him than to lose my pride. If you truly love your partner, you’d be willing to:

1. Give up your pride!

Pride seriously ruins everything. Because of pride, we often don’t say what’s really on our minds or worse-we say things that are the opposite of what we actually want to say.

I mean, how many of you lost the chance to be in a relationship with your crush because you were too afraid to ask him/her out on a date? Or perhaps because you just didn’t want to admit that you had feelings for that person? How many of you have failed in a relationship because your pride wouldn’t let you say “sorry” for something that you were actually sorry about? And if you answered “I never have” to all of these questions, is it because you’ve really never? Or is it once again because your pride is tugging at your heart to deny the truth?

My point is, pride can cause severe damage to any kind of relationship. With that being said, the #1 rule that Joe and I have set up is to give up pride and speak honestly about how we feel. For instance, this past week, I was extremely sick. I was waiting for Joe to call me, asking how I was doing but he never called me once. I was upset and desperate to hear his voice but I said to myself, “You’re not calling him first until he calls you first.” I felt entitled to receiving his phone call because this was my logic: I am sick and he knows I am sick. Therefore, it is he who should call me first and check up on me. Stupid reasoning, right? I think so too now that I am writing this in a better health condition. But that was seriously the thought that I was having at that moment!

While constantly waiting for his phone call, I remembered the promise that Joe and I have made in our relationship of giving up pride. So instead of being bitter, I decided to organize my thoughts and message Joe, explaining to him how I felt. I completely gave up my pride when writing this message. I told him how much I miss him, how disappointed I was that he did not call me, how I was slightly bitter towards him, and finally, how much I love him.

The next day that we met, he embraced me warmly and explained his situation. He was going through one of his craziest weeks at work and on top of that, he confessed that because I have the tendency to reply late to his messages and not pick up his phone calls immediately, he didn’t think I’d be waiting for his phone call or message that desperately. And he told me that he was genuinely sorry for hurting me. Receiving such an apology, I too realized my mistake and told him that I was sorry for only thinking of the situation from my perspective. We ended that night laughing and expressing our love more than ever.

By giving up my pride and opening up my heart, I was able to maintain a healthy relationship โค๏ธ.

2. Encourage rather than criticize!

Often times, I think we have the tendency to criticize those whom we love, hoping that our criticisms will actually make them better. If you’re one of those people using criticism to push someone to do better, I advise you to stop doing that NOW. Not only will you discourage that person from doing better, but you might also cause that person to resent you in the end.

The last thing that a person wants from someone they seek to be loved and admired by is criticism. There has even been a research previously, showing that golfers performed better in their games when they were constantly encouraged rather than criticized. This rule does not apply only to golfers but to everyone in general.

There are times when Joe comes to me and tells me that he feels like he’s not doing well at work-that his business is growing too slowly compared to others’ around him. Whenever I sense that he’s down, I try my best to encourage him. I tell him how amazing I think he is for running a business in his early 20s, having to deal with all kinds of people. Then, I tell him that in order to obtain a stable and satisfactory result in anything, one must acknowledge that it takes time and patience. For instance, it may take much shorter time to bake a cake using a cake mix but to bake a really nice cake from scratch, it would take much longer time than that. And let me tell you-I love the cake made from Betty Crocker’s French Vanilla cake mix but it surely can’t top the vanilla cake that I had from Magnolia Bakery in NYC.

Whenever he hears my encouraging words, Joe gains courage and talks like a man who’s never been worried about work before. He becomes confident again and tells me that he feels so blessed to have me in his life. It ends up becoming a win-win situation: I give him my full support and he gives me his wholehearted love.

Summary of the rule is: When you see a flaw in your partner, encourage to do better and when he/she does something well, be generous with your compliments! Following this rule does wonders in your relationship.

3. Put Away Your Mental Calculator!

I often have friends who come to me for relationship advice and tell me, “I always do this and that for my boyfriend but he doesn’t do the same for me. I think he doesn’t love me as much as I do.” Sometimes, I am shocked as to how detailed they are when explaining to me about what they’ve done for their boyfriends in the past. I think that this is actually one of the best things that you can do if your goal is to worsen your relationship with your significant other-keeping a detailed record of what you did and what (s)he did not do.

When I do things for Joe, I do them simply because I want to. I don’t take note of what I did and then think, “He better do the same for me in the future.” Why? Because he might not and that would just make me dismayed and agitated. You and your boyfriend/girlfriend are not business partners; you two are lovers. Lovers give because they love, not because they expect to reap some kind of benefit out of the other person.

Sometimes, I have less than $40 to spend for myself for the entire week and I would still buy Joe a meal. Why would I do such a thing, knowing that by doing so, I won’t be able to indulge in my morning coffee at Starbucks for the rest of the week? Because I love Joe and I feel better to see him smile after a good meal than to spend that money by myself at Starbucks. Joe does the same. When I say that I am thirsty and fatigued, he does not hesitate to buy me a bottle of water from CVS or pick me up from school.

Also, your love language may simply be different from that of your partner’s. One day, I was greatly disappointed at Joe because we went grocery shopping together on a day when I was extremely sick and he still made me hold half the grocery bags. I was so angry that I did not talk to him for the entire day. Why? Because I remembered that when he was sick, I brought everything for him, telling him to stay and rest; yet, he could not even hold all the grocery bags when there weren’t even that much and he was definitely able to hold all of them.

After reading the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman however, I learned that my most dominant love language is acts of service while Joe’s is words of affirmation. For Joe, performing an act out of service didn’t come naturally to him; but once taught that that’s how I feel loved, he began to find ways in every circumstance to serve me in some way through his actions.

On the other hand, I realized that I do not tell Joe how much I love him as much as he tells me how much he loves me. He’d say “I love you” to me first almost every single time when we’re together and sometimes, I wouldn’t even say “I love you” back because I’d think that it’s unnecessary to actually put into words how much I love him when I am showing that to him through my actions. But Joe never calculated how many time he said “I love you” compared to how many times I said it. He simply told me that he loves me because he genuinely meant it each time. If he counted the number of times he said “I love you” and the number of times I said “I love you” and measured our love for each other based off of that observation alone, I am sure he would’ve gotten upset, thinking that I do not love him as much as he loves me.

I say don’t calculate in a relationship because love is something that cannot be measured in numbers. If you feel that you love your partner more than (s)he loves you, perhaps (s)he is expressing his/her love for you in ways that you do not perceive because (s)he is not expressing it in your most dominant love language.

Are there other useful advices on how you and your partner continue to maintain a healthy, lasting relationship? Share in the comments! I’d love to know what other couples do to strengthen their relationship โค๏ธ.

See more of me and Joe on my Instagram ! ๐Ÿ’‘

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