Everyone wants a partner who supports and nurtures them, and helps them see the best in themselves. True growth, however, usually comes from acknowledging our weaknesses and failings too, and taking steps to try and improve where we can. Everyone has bad days (or weeks!) – including you and your partner. When you work well together as a team, you can help each other through the bad times rather than taking your frustrations out on each other.
This means developing some key relationship skills, some of which may come naturally to you, while others may require a little more work. With some practice, patience and persistence, however, you’ll soon be able to grow your partnership in a rewarding and mutually beneficial way. Here are some key skills to focus on.
Learn to listen without getting defensive
Few people enjoy criticism, perhaps even less so when those criticisms actually hold water! For many of us, becoming defensive when we’re accused of less-than-ideal behavior is instinctive – but when we do this, we’re actually getting in the way of our own development. Take a moment before you react to actually let your partner’s words sink in. Why are they saying what they’re saying? Quite often you’ll find that the root cause of your partner lashing out or saying something less than flattering is because their own feelings have been hurt in some way. By reassuring them instead of taking umbrage, you can turn what might have become a fight into a meaningful conversation instead.
Embrace the art of compromise
Whether you have polar opposite personalities or are like two peas in a pod, every relationship requires some level of compromise. Knowing when to make concessions and when to stand your ground is not always easy though! If you find yourself reluctant to compromise on something, be honest with yourself about the reason why. Does the idea of the compromise make you genuinely uncomfortable, or are you just trying to ‘win’ the argument? Put yourself in your partner’s shoes and try to see it from their angle before you decide whether to give in or stand your ground.
Learn to ask for what you want
Asking for what we want and need from our partners can be intimidating on so many levels – from the natural fear of feeling vulnerable and exposed, to worrying that you’re going to hurt their feelings by pointing out a trait or behavior that you don’t like. You may find it helpful to start small, building your confidence over time and learning that getting your desires out in the open really isn’t the end of the world.
Asking for what you want in the bedroom can be particularly tricky for some –whether you want to bring in extra excitement with some adult toys or indulge in a little role-play– but it can be helpful to remember that the chances are pretty good your partner will be all too happy to hear about how they can better please you!
Understand your partner’s weaknesses and anxieties
Getting to know what really makes someone tick is one of the most exciting aspects of any relationship – but with that insider knowledge comes a certain level of responsibility too. Taking advantage of our partner’s weak spots can be tempting when we want to get our way in a disagreement, but can cause real damage to both the relationship and their self-confidence. Always be mindful of the things that make your partner anxious or afraid, and try to bolster them in these areas when the opportunity presents itself.
Be warm and physically affectionate whenever you’re alone together
It’s one of those weird quirks of humanity that we can become withdrawn and distant right when we need affection the most. When you’ve had a bad day and aren’t in the mood to be nice or affectionate towards your partner, making the effort to do so anyway can lift you both up. It can be hard to find the right words to express the way we feel, but with your body language and by demonstrating your affection physically you can get the message across anyway.
Know when to put your own needs first
Relationships require sacrifice, but you can’t be the best possible partner to your significant other if you don’t take care of yourself too. Whether it’s your physical or emotional health, or taking time to pursue your own interests and hobbies, make sure you’re investing in your own growth and development as well as that of the relationship.