In this article I have gathered the best relationship advice following the 2020 lock down. It’s time to relieve that built up relationship anxiety.
According to Forbes only 18% of couples were satisfied with their communication during lock down, this isn’t surprising is it?
I don’t know about you but with all areas of life straining, relationship anxiety has been on the top of the list these past few months.
Making relationships work is difficult at the best of times.
Love is not a sprint, it’s a marathon and the reason I don’t mind regurgitating that cheesy one liner to you is because at the heart of it is a golden nugget of truth.
To make a relationship work we have to be prepared to enjoy the highs and persevere through the lows because here’s the truth of the matter – happiness is a by-product of a good relationship.
It’s something that is earned and worked towards.
Relationships take graft and commitment. There are no short cuts here my friend.
However, this year will have been the toughest by far for a lot of couples.
Suddenly new relationships were having to spend weeks or months apart, trying to make something so fresh withstand the hardship.
Long term partnerships were thrust into living on top of each other. No time or space apart, no relief provided by spending hours in the office or socializing time with friends.
It has been a time of living in the upside down and, understandably, relationship tensions have risen with many having reached breaking point.
I myself have experienced this with my own relationship. There were moments where I wasn’t sure if we could make it through the tough times.
In a strange turn of events I actually saw my partner just as little as I always would have but the difference was that without work and without the company of others I found myself spending 9 hours of every day by myself.
It was easy to hold resentment toward him.
It was easy to blame him for not understanding how I was being affected.
It was easy to make him responsible for my happiness.
When you live through something like this as a couple there are really only two choices:
1. You re-evaluate, put time and effort into your relationship and move forward stronger than ever (just as we did, thankfully!)
2. You accept that you have drifted apart and can’t make this work moving forward.
Either way choices need to be made and whole lot of effort is required to get you back on track.
But know this, if you feel as though your relationship is worth saving and if you feel as though among all of this there is love for one another then it is simply a case of reconnecting.
Put in the time. Put in the effort and work toward rekindling the fire between you.
2020 is not lost and your relationship doesn’t have to be either.
This is the best relationship advice I can give which should be applied and worked on consistently but is particularly relevant following the 2020 lockdown.
1. Open A Dialogue
Communication is KEY.
To begin taking the necessary steps to re-building a strong connection with your partner you must first open your mouth and start a dialogue.
Vulnerability is not something that comes easy to a lot of us and so we would rather shut up and suffer in silence than expose ourselves to ‘rejection’ or ‘judgement’.
However, the first step toward getting this relationship back on track is to communicate with one another.
Perhaps you are aware of how difficult this time has been for both of you but feel as though your partner views it differently.
‘Was it hard for me but easy for them?’
‘Do they think we are alright when I feel we are far from it?’
‘They haven’t expressed any struggles or insecurities during this so maybe they are OK and this will blow over.’
My guess is, if you are reading this article then something isn’t sitting right with you and let me tell you right now that you KNOW if things have been hard lately.
You know if the relationship has been strained.
No matter what signals you are receiving from your partner, if there has been tension in the air then they have experienced it to.
One of you needs to start the discussion and get the ball rolling.
It is a brave step and one you must take to start fixing the relationship problems.
This article ‘8 WAYS TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATION AND FIND MORE FULFILLMENT‘ from the master that is Tony Robbins talks in great depth about how to communicate effectively with your partner.
2. Tell Them About Your Struggles
Ultimately what you want is to move forward with your relationship, be a strong couple and find a new common ground that allows your relationship to thrive.
But before you can move forward you need to take a step back.
What you have experienced through this lock down period may not be so obvious to your partner. You need to tell them clearly and calmly exactly what has been troubling you through this time.
You must be open and honest.
Provide them with every little speck of information and detail to explain to them what YOU have battled with and how you have been effected.
Tell them what your fears are. Tell them what has upset you. Tell them how you’ve been left feeling.
Do not limit this to just your relationship anxiety but to everything in life that has been effected over this past year.
Bare your soul, lay it out on the table and do not be afraid to tell them the whole truth.
You need to let them know what your experience of this past year has been like so that they can fully understand how you are feeling.
There will be information that you will give them that they had no idea about!
You may discuss fears and insecurities that you are currently fixating on that would have never crossed their minds.
In order for them to fully understand what 2020 has been like in YOUR SHOES, you have to tell them.
3. Be Understanding Of Their Struggles
When it comes to relationship advice nothing is ever as certain than the fact that it is a two-way street.
You are one half of a partnership with your S.O making up the other half.
You have experienced struggles and trauma throughout this period and so have they.
Just as you must tell them exactly what has been hard for you this year so that they can understand things from your perspective, they must do the same.
Be understanding when they express their experiences of this past year.
Judgement is so easy when relationships are fraught with tension and we can be quick to jump on the defensive or take things personally but you need to hear what they have to say.
You both need to hear each other’s stories and understand how you have been affected individually and as a couple so that you can work together to support one another now that you are aware of each other’s specific insecurities, worries and fears.
If you don’t know, how can you help one another?
If you don’t know how they have been hurting, how can you support them or be supported?
Automatically we assume that our struggles have been the same so we come to the conclusion that, ‘I will help them by giving them exactly what I need because if that’s what I need it must be what they need.’
You both have experienced different difficulties and struggles and therefore you both need support and help in different areas and in different ways.
Tell them of your struggles and listen to theirs.
4. Be Brutally Honest
These conversations won’t be easy.
You will risk upsetting one another but in all honesty, without the harsh truth this is all pointless.
If we only have half the story then we can only work with that little snippet of information and in a relationship that is not good enough.
When I mentioned baring your soul in the previous point it was not to appear melodramatic but to express the honesty that is required to fix the relationship problems you might be experiencing.
Think of this; if I tell my partner that I haven’t felt loved recently then that is a step in the right direction.
However what I could say is;
I haven’t felt loved over these past few months because when you leave for 9 hours a day I am left feeling alone and distant from you. I feel as though you never made the choice to set time aside for me. I feel as though you don’t love me because you never say ‘I love you’ anymore.
The latter is far more difficult conversation to have and opens up a bunch of new questions and conversations to be had. BRILLIANT!
Would I want to hurt my partner by telling him these things? Absolutely not.
Is it necessary to be that specific so that we can work together to fix this particular problem? 100% yes.
When you have these conversations you are having them in order to make your relationship better.
To do this, you must be brutally honest.
Before you begin make sure that you are both on the same page –
‘We need to discuss things openly and honestly. That might mean that I will say some things that will hurt you but know that that is not my intention. My intention is simply to explain clearly how I have been feeling so that we can address the issue and move on’
You must agree to have these discussions without any judgement or shaming so that, although they will still be difficult, you both feel safe to be brutally honest with one another.
5. Tell Your Partner What You Need
Tell them what you need.
It’s so very polite of us to sit and suffer in silence hoping that our partner will magically look into our eyes and know exactly what it is that they need to do in order to support us.
Unfortunately this is not the reality of things.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get and never has this been clearer than when relationship expectations are high and things are a bit rocky.
You have discussed how you have been feeling over these past few months.
You have explained in depth why you have been left feeling this way and now you must TELL THEM what it is you need from them moving forward with this relationship.
Understand you must be realistic.
If you ask for something that is unachievable then you will never be fulfilled.
For example, it would be unrealistic to ask my partner to make sure he spends every spare moment he has out of work with me (which is something that I certainly would not want anyway! But you get the point).
He has other commitments; family, friends, children and his own business start up to work on.
However, it is not unrealistic to ask my partner to express his love more often. Either by saying, ‘I love you’ or kissing and hugging me more often. The odd romantic gesture like some flowers once in a blue moon.
This is not asking too much of my partner. This is achievable and necessary in addressing an insecurity of mine that could be contributing to the breakdown of a relationship.
You need to SPELL IT OUT. Tell them what you need, make sure it’s realistic and achievable.
6. Ask Them What They Need From You
That’s right, it’s not all about you.
Whatever you THINK they might need from you, the chances are you are way off base.
Lovely though it is for us to try and figure out what we could do best to make our partner feel better and feel good in this relationship, the same rule applies to them as it does to you.
They must tell you what they need.
And just how it’s about managing relationship expectations and moving forward with good intentions, this is an important part of the conversation.
Make sure you understand why they need what they need from you.
Make sure that it is realistic.
Make sure that you feel it is something that you can give.
If for whatever reason you don’t feel as though you can give them what they need from you then explain to them why and justify your reasoning.
There is always compromise to be found so although you both need to explain clearly what it is your partner can do to help you and the relationship, you need to make sure that your needs can work for both of you.
Find the balance and then implement immediately.
7. Reflect But Then Move Forward
Do not dwell on the situation for too long.
Have the conversation and make it last for as long as it needs to for you both to feel as though you understand your partner but then look ahead.
This is similar to the ‘forgive and forget’ rule of a relationship.
If you want to work through your problems and reach a place of stability and connection then discuss the problems, discuss your needs and then start taking the necessary steps to re-building your relationship.
Throughout this time you may have both responded in a way that has hurt each other.
Unpredictable times like these bring with it anxiety induced chaos and insecurities which has us acting out of the norm so undoubtedly we might have even surprised ourselves by our behaviour!
That’s why you must work through the first few steps thoroughly; address your experiences, struggles and needs but; once you have reached a point of understanding you must move forward.
Do not dwell.
Do not hold resentment.
Accept any apologies you have received and start rebuilding some positive foundations to work on.
8. Hold Each Other Accountable
You’ve discussed your struggles and expressed your needs, now you need to hold each other accountable.
In a bid to have a long lasting, happy relationship we need to constantly check in with one another.
There is no use being told by your partner what you can do to help them through this difficult time in your relationship if you are not then going to action it and visa versa.
Once you have both clearly understood what you can do to support one another then you must action it immediately.
Understand, there is no set amount of time you should be working toward fulfilling their needs. It is ongoing.
It is not a case of, ‘I need 3 months of my partner telling me he loves me but then he can stop and I’ll be fine’.
The truth is, it can be difficult to maintain and we all fall of the wagon every now and again so it is important that you hold each other accountable for your actions.
When you notice things beginning to slip then you must tell them. This is not conflict and it doesn’t have to be an argument.
You are checking in with each other.
Are you both fulfilling your ends of the bargain? If not, then tell each other.
It’s OK to slip up and it’s OK for things to become slack over time as we start to rearrange our priorities. Life throws us some curve balls we have to deal with and there are other people who also require our attention.
No-one is perfect.
Neither you nor your partner.
So, if you are beginning to feel as though your needs are not being met as discussed then firstly, cut them some slack.
Secondly, check in. Let them know calmly and effectively and set everything back on track.
Likewise, if you’re partner comes to you then do not take it as a personal attack. This is what you have agreed that they need from you and if they are not getting it then you need to be told.
Both parties need to feel safe enough in the relationship to come to one another for tough conversations like this.
Again, no judgement. No shaming.
9. All Situations Are Temporary
Something worth thinking about is whether the relationship problems you have experienced are situational or on-going.
When you look back at this past year, have tensions risen between you because of this unfamiliar situation that you both find yourself in or has it simply exacerbated an on-going problem?
If the answer is the former then the good news is that nothing is permanent, everything is temporary and this year is no different.
Like every other event in life this time will pass.
It feels permanent.
It feels as though things will never improve. It feels as though we are stuck forever. And you’d be right, that is exactly how it feels but the truth is; it’s not.
And so it’s worth reminding yourself that you might have to find the new norm for you and your relationship but the difficulties of this year specifically will run it’s course.
If the answer is the latter and what you have found is that the events of this year have catastrophized some problems and brought to light some underlying issues that were being swept under the rug then YOU’RE ALSO IN LUCK!
You can absolutely look at this as a positive for 2 reasons:
– Firstly, if what has occurred to you is that actually your values aren’t aligned and that the relationship is beyond saving then it’s hard to hear but that’s a great realization to come to if it’s time for things to end. Save yourself the hardship of trying to solve problems that can’t be fixed. A toxic relationship is detrimental to your health and well-being so even if your partner is in essence a good person, if it’s not going to work it’s better that you know now.
– Secondly, if you feel the relationship is worth saving and fighting for; that you have confidence in your ability to work together take steps toward a solid and strong relationship then now you know very clearly the areas you need to work on. This is a blessing in disguise. Suddenly you have been forced to acknowledge those relationship problems that you have both been avoiding but need some serious attention.
Every situation is temporary so no matter how low you have felt and how hopeless it seems, this time will pass and you can use it to help navigate yourself in the right direction ready for when the next stage of life reveals itself.
10. Make Space For Yourself And Each Other
Possibly not an easy ask at the moment but wherever possible you should find a way to spend quality time with each other and have quality time for YOURSELF.
In order for a relationship to thrive, the coupes who achieve this work on their relationship but they also work on themselves.
There has to be a balance between focusing on the relationship and focusing on your individual needs.
It could be as easy as allocating time in your calendar each week for an hour or two of alone time along with an evening designated to spending with each other as a ‘date night’.
Whatever it may be, in order for this to work there must be compromise.
You must have space for yourself to think, to organize and to navigate the times ahead.
Get your thoughts in line and figure out what it is you need to do for yourself as an individual. Your partner should do the same.
Likewise you must make space for each other.
You have your own set of goals to reach, now create a set of goals for your relationship and work toward them together.
Understandably, this isn’t easy to achieve.
If you’re living together then how do you make sure you get that much needed alone time?
If you’re living apart, how can you make sure that you’re fitting each other into your lives?
Although it seems regimented, scheduling times like these not only makes it easier but also more likely that you will follow through.
You both need space and you both need intimacy.
If it’s a struggle trying balance these at the moment then sit down, get out the calendar and mark in your alone time and your relationship time.
This suggests that it is definitive, everyone is on the same page and there is less reason for you to mismanage your time.
11. Be Responsible For Your Own Happiness
I have spoken in more depth about this in The #1 Secret To A Happy Relationship and that’s because I believe it to be true.
You must be responsible for your own happiness.
Happiness is a by-product of a good relationship.
Relationships take commitment, dedication, hard work and graft. It is unreasonable and unfair to ask that someone else be responsible for your happiness.
That way destruction lies.
The key to a happy couple is two happy individuals. So, with that in mind you should take this time to start working on yourself.
Ask yourself what you need.
What is missing?
What would make you feel good?
What can you do to make progress?
What can you do to achieve your goals?
By burdening your partner with the responsibility of your happiness you are inadvertently adding tremendous stress and tension to the relationship.
Can you imagine being responsible for the happiness of someone you love? The weight of that is heavier than what a person can bare.
As a couple you should be there to support one another, laugh with one another and LOVE one another but you and only you can be responsible for your own happiness.
Two happy individuals = 1 happy couple.
12. Prioritize Yourself
‘Always put your own mask on first’ is what we are told in case of an airplane emergency.
This is the same rule for life and relationships.
A common misconception is that once we have partnered up our counterpart should be the number 1 priority in our lives.
They should absolutely be right up the top there but listen, YOU must be your number 1 priority.
How can you take responsibility for your own happiness if all of your focus, care and attention is given to someone else?
Now is the time for self care, self reflection and personal development.
We don’t spend enough time actively trying to work making ourselves feel good and although it is admirable to want to give your partner everything you have to give, it ultimately becomes counteractive to the success of your relationship.
I will say it again:
Two happy individuals = One happy couple.
Allow your partner to prioritize themselves and you take care of Number #1 (that’s you by the way).
13. Check Your Values And Beliefs Are In Line
During turbulent times we change as people. Experiences shape us and who we are so it’s important to re-evaluate your values and beliefs.
The feeling of uncertainty that can arise from losing that connection to your belief system can spread to your relationship.
At the beginning, as a couple, you might have discussed where you see yourself in 1, 5 or 10 years time. What are our priorities, our focus and what are we willing to sacrifice to get there?
However, with time and living through challenging events our focus can shift.
You may find that there is friction in your relationship due to the fact that you have steered away from those important core values that drive our every decision and action.
In the same way, the understanding that you may have had between you regarding which direction you are heading as a couple might have shifted.
Understand that it is perfectly acceptable for your values and beliefs to change over time.
It is understandable that certain events or experiences may cause you and your partner to question your priorities.
Make sure that your values are still aligned and that you are on the same page.
Don’t worry if they aren’t! Have the conversation and see how they can come together to work for both of you.
When you have this conversation you can progress with clarity and purpose knowing that you are both on the same wavelength rather than drifting apart as your values and beliefs become ever more uncertain as a partnership and individual.
14. Love Is A Doing Word
Love is NOT passive.
Love is a verb. It takes effort to love a person. It takes commitment and time to love a person.
Tell your partner you love them. Show your partner you love them. We cannot expect to feel loved if we don’t receive these queues and gestures which tell us that this is the case.
It’s not a given. Yes time will pass and the way you show and love each other will change but it will still require your input and it will still require ACTION.
15. Reintroduce Physical Intimacy
A touch, a kiss, a hug – physical intimacy between a couple can be lost over time.
Strangely, there seems to appear to be some resistance alongside a deep desire for intimacy. It can be both longed for and avoided.
Physical intimacy is a must for rebuilding a relationship. When we touch one another, lie with one another or kiss, no words are needed for you to FEEL the love that is being expressed.
If there were ever a reason to work on being more intimate with each other, particularly sex, it’s that it FEELS GOOD.
It releases endorphins similar to eating chocolate, drinking wine or exercising. So, not only are you injecting some passion into the relationship but on a SELFISH note it’s an easy uplift.
It’s a common misconception that lust and passion should occur naturally in a relationship but this is not the case.
You are not alone. This aspect of your relationship also takes work and effort.
This is an excellent article from the Healthline that delves into the benefits of physical intimacy for a strong relationship:
Is Sex Important in a Relationship? 12 Things to Consider
16. Shame Free Fighting
Shame free fighting means allowing both parties to express how they feel without the feeling of judgement.
Now, this might seem obvious. We say that we want to be told the truth and we want them to open up but as soon as they do? Suddenly we are in self defense mode and hitting all of their trigger points just to keep ourselves from getting hurt.
In the process of doing this we are unknowingly shaming our partner.
It must be an unwritten rule that in order to have healthy and honest communication in a relationship both parties must never go for each others weak spots.
We all know how we could quickly hurt our partner. We know the subject, we know the words and we know how it would leave them feelings.
We know that exact button to push that would make them feel awful.
For a successful relationship to thrive and honest conversations to happen, this simply cannot even be an option. These specific trigger points, the easy jabs, must be off the table.
When we have conversations like these we need to remain on topic and, whether it’s an ugly conversation or not, both parties need to feel comfortable expressing themselves.
If we are constantly shaming each other during heated moments we don’t allow ourselves much hope for an open and honest relationship in the future.
Even during times of rage and disagreement we must remain respectful of each other.
17. Blame Free Living
Let’s be honest here…
When things get tough and we find ourselves struggling (in any area of life) the easiest thing to do is blame someone else. And unfortunately when it comes to relationships the only other person there to place the blame on, is your partner!
For a happy relationship as a thriving couple living together in harmony it is worth living a blame free existence.
Now this is TOUGH because what does that mean? It means taking responsibility.
Taking responsibility for your behaviour, actions, decisions, what you’ve said and so much more.
The moment we take ownership of our behaviour is the exact moment where we finally feel in control because YOU have control over WHAT YOU DO and HOW YOU BEHAVE.
You do not have control over any other living person in this way.
So when things go wrong, the easiest thing we can do is say, ‘It’s your fault’.
And truth be told sometimes, that really is the truth of the matter.
However, a lot of times is just an excuse we use to not have to address an issue or a problem that we had direct influence over.
That’s because it’s hard. It hurts and conjures up a whole host feelings including shame and embarrassment.
But constantly making the CHOICE to blame your partner for any mishaps or difficulties in your life is a sure fire way to have them running out the door.
Take responsibility and ownership of your actions and make sure your partner is doing the same.
Take a step away from the blame game and put your conversation hat on.
If you both actively invest in blame free living then you will not only have a healthier relationship but you will be more content as an individual.
The number one relationship problem that you see splattered over every relationship advice article is that we are notoriously bad at LISTENING to one another.
Listening is a valuable life skill and when it comes to building a strong relationship it is something that we should do the most but probably so the least.
It is relationship advice 101.
If there is one thing you take away from this and MASTER in order give your relationship a fighting chance, it’s that you both need to learn to listen.
Did you know that there is a difference between listening and hearing.
Hearing is the biological term for sound entering our ears and being processed in our brains.
Listening is hearing what is being said, acknowledging it and responding accordingly.
Just because you hear what someone is saying does not mean that you are listening to what they are saying.
When the relationship is rocky having a calm and structured conversation can be really difficult. We can get defensive and attack our partner to shield ourselves from any hurt. But these conversations need to be had and guess what? They will hurt.
Practise the art of listening.
Ask your partner a question and let them answer. Do not jump in. Do not interrupt. Listen and UNDERSTAND what they are trying to say.
Enquire further if you need further explanation.
Repeat what they have told you, tell them what you have understood it to mean and ask them if you are correct in your thinking.
Then reply ACCORDINGLY.
The reason we find listening to be such a difficult task is because it is not about us.
We want to explain our side of things, tell them how it’s made US feel and generally talk about ourselves as much as possible.
This is not an attack on you, it’s an explanation as to why relationships struggle when effective listening and communication aren’t used properly.
A relationship is made up of YOU and YOUR PARTNER.
So how can you build a strong connection if you don’t listen to their side of things?
They make up half of the relationship. They deal with half the problems.
When you listen to what each other is saying, really listen, you are helping yourself.
By having greater understanding of what is truly going on inside that head of theirs you give yourself the opportunity to take more control over the situation because you have MORE INFORMATION to work with.
Don’t be so quick to dismiss what they have to say or jump on the defense, listen.
There are two sides to every story, make sure they are both heard and understood.
You can read Deep Listening in Personal Relationships from Psychology Today for more in-depth knowledge about the power of listening in a relationship.
19. It’s Not A Competition, It’s A Collaboration
A lot of couples actually use competition to thrive.
That type A personality couple can use it to project them both forward but it’s used in a HEALTHY manner.
Competition can indeed be healthy but when it comes to relationship advice I would rather push the notion that a relationship is not a competition, it’s a collaboration.
You should be working together to reach the end goal. Even if you have separate individual journeys, where you envision your relationship to end up needs to be incorporated into this and taken into account.
When it comes to competing with your partner the major problem is that generally there is a winner and a loser.
This is not beneficial to the success of your relationship.
You should both be working together to feel like winners. Separately and as a couple.
Support each other in your individual endeavours and work together to move toward the ultimate goal of your relationship, whatever that may be.
There must be give and take. You must be happy to receive support and also quick to give it.
The one-upmanship of competition will always leave one partner feeling ‘less than’ and you both need to feel like equals if your relationship has a chance.
20. Show Them Gratitude
My partner and I thank each other for everything.
Making a cup of tea, doing the dishes, cooking dinner and even sex. That’s right!
You may think that as a couple you don’t need to express gratitude, that it’s a given but once again it is about communication and validation.
When we say the words ‘thank you’ you express your gratitude toward your partner.
You are telling them clearly that you appreciate what they have done for you. With this comes a building of self-esteem and confidence.
Not only this but it gives them motivation to continue doing what they are doing because they receive recognition for their efforts.
The power of recognition is massively underestimated.
Show your partner gratitude often and you will quickly see the rewards and benefits that come of it.
21. Quality Time
There is a difference between spending time together and spending quality time together.
Even if you have been stuck together in one room for the past 6 months, getting sick of the sight of each other and growing in frustration, this does not mean that you have spent any quality time together.
Quality time is time that is DEDICATED to focusing on one another and giving attention to your relationship and your partner.
Quality time is doing something special or something new.
Quality time is spending an evening with no technology, just each other for company.
Quality time is having hard conversations to find resolutions.
Quality time is important.
So perhaps it is easy to start with having a designated ‘date night’ once a week or month (as previously discussed). Quality time should absolutely be scheduled in to your calendar because it holds such great importance.
By all means, set rules and boundaries.
As I said perhaps no phones are allowed. Perhaps it has to be out of the house. Perhaps you decide that there are certain things that you check in on each time.
Whatever it may be and however you decide to arrange quality time with your partner make sure you treat it as high importance.
22. ‘I feel’ NOT ‘You Should’
Non-violent communication is essential in being able to talk to your partner without the subliminal attacks that comes so naturally.
The term ‘YOU SHOULD’ should be removed from all forms of vocabulary and is detrimental to relationships worldwide.
When we say to our partner, ‘You should…’ It is a form of blame. We are effectively saying, you should do this but you didn’t so now I am hurting and it is your fault.
There is no ‘should’ in a relationship. It is a two and fro, a conversation and a compromise.
For example, instead of saying ‘you should be home to have dinner with me tonight’ try, ‘I would really like it if you could be home for dinner tonight.’
Or ‘I wish…’
Or ‘It would be nice if you could…’
Alternatively instead of ‘I am angry because you should have been home for dinner tonight…’ try, ‘I feel hurt that you weren’t home for dinner when I expressed that I’d quite like it if you were.’
One attacks and places blame the other expresses how you feel and it is the latter that will pave the way to a constructive conversation rather than an argument.
23. Create The Spark
That’s right! Like everything else you have to WORK to create the SPARK.
Life has been tough. You might both feel low, exhausted, stressed, anxious and insecure. You have to work to find those things that you can do together that will uplift you.
Set time aside to do something fun.
Have an open conversation about sex.
Try something new together.
Take a break and get away.
No-one is going to come along and inject your relationship with vibrancy and excitement, you have to create it for yourself.
Even if you have NO TIME to do something extensive, it might be that you cook dinner together one evening in your underwear. GREAT!
24. Men Need To Be Strong/Women Need To Be Perfect
In common culture, still to this day do we have expectations that are gender specific and unrealistic.
Typically men feel as though they need to appear strong and successful and that failure or weakness is shameful.
Women on the other hand are supposed to effortlessly appear to be the image of perfection – keeping their composure even in times of difficulty. Anything less than perfection is shameful.
Brene Brown is an expert in the study of shame and in her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead she explains perfectly how we experience shame differently depending on our gender due to societal expectations.
During times of trauma or upheaval neither men nor women can expect to live up to these expectations and quite frankly they should not be expected to at any time in life.
For a relationship to be successful both partners need to allow the other to feel safe and unashamed of showing their true selves.
Women need to let their male partners know that they can be vulnerable, they can fail and they can be emotionally open without fear of ridicule.
The ingrained expectation that men have to be strong is skewed.
Vulnerability is strength. Truth is strength and honesty is strength.
When the men in our lives fear seeking support because of the reaction they might receive they bottle it up and take a step back. They might be quick to anger or disconnect so we need to let them know that there is no shame in vulnerability.
Likewise we as women cannot expect to portray this image of perfection so easily. Feeling as though our bodies need to be perfect, our hair, our make-up. We need to look young, act lively and maintain our composure.
This is not only unrealistic but an un-acceptable request.
The men in our lives to need to let us know that they do not require perfection from us. That it is OK to put on some weight or to REACT in times of hardship.
It is so very difficult to see our partners in a light that is not familiar to us but we must all feel safe in being vulnerable with each other without judgement.
I encourage you to read this book. It has changed how I view myself but has also given me great insight into how my partner experiences shame differently and how I can help him with this.
25. Remind Yourself (And Them) What You Admire About Them
Relationships develop over time and unfortunately the honeymoon stage at the very beginning only lasts so long.
It is different for everyone but there will always come a point where you slipped away from the excitement and passion and into the comfort zone.
When you reach this point the real work begins.
At the beginning you are full of love, lust and desire and you naturally and without effort express your feelings; openly telling your partner why it is that you fell in love with them.
However, beyond this initial stage time goes on and it doesn’t seem to pour out of us so willingly.
Now might be a good time to remind yourself what you admire about your partner. Don’t just sit and think or write it down, look at them and tell them.
Sometimes we need this reminder to help us get back on track.
Perhaps all we have seen lately is a partner in despair; struggling, panicked and unstable but this is not ALL that they are. You chose this person to be with and you chose them for a reason.
Time to remind yourself both of what those reasons are.
What do you admire about your partner?
What qualities do they possess that inspire you?
Why did you fall in love with them in the first place?
These are huge questions to answer but I think you’ll find you won’t struggle.
By asking yourself these questions and telling your partner, you provide them with validation of your love for them.
We are quick to put each other down and point out flaws and mistakes but very rarely do we take the time to go back to the honeymoon phase and tell them, for no reason, exactly what it is you love about them.
26. No One Is A Mind Reader
It always come back to communication doesn’t it.
For some reason or another we have this idea that however we are feeling or whatever we are thinking it must be OBVIOUS.
They must be blind to miss it! I’m making it so clear and obvious!
No. No you’re not.
Unless you are saying the words to their face, explaining how you feel and what you need then you only have yourself to blame when your partner cannot GUESS what it is you need from them.
I lived with anxiety since I was 16 years old and I thought it was as clear as day how much I suffered in certain situations. My hands became clammy, I felt sick to my stomach and turned bright red. In my mind my reaction to a situation was HUGE but guess what?
Yep, that’s right. No-one had the foggiest.
You are better at hiding your emotions than you think and even when they explode out of you that doesn’t mean that your partner knows WHY.
It is your responsibility to make it crystal clear how you are feeling and what you need.
Don’t make them dig or guess for it or you will both be left disappointed and upset.
27. Believe Them When They Show You Who They Are
This is a piece of relationship advice I wish I had been given years ago.
One of the best tips I’ve ever received when it comes to relationship building and solidifying a connection with my partner.
Anxiety, low confidence, low self-esteem, trust issues and many more insecurities similar to these can make it so that we ask our partners to reveal themselves to us and then in a strange turn of events we choose to believe that it’s all a lie.
One major foundation that relationships are built upon is trust. Without it there is nothing.
So, whether you have had negative experiences with former partners or not, it is a disservice to yourself and your partner if you choose not to believe what is being presented in front of you.
Often it says more about you and your own insecurities, so work on that. Accept what is being said and appreciate that they are being open and honest.
It doesn’t instill confidence in your partner if they can see that you can’t believe them when they show you who they are.
It does not make them want to be vulnerable with you.
It does not make them want to strengthen their connection with you if it is met with resilience.
Get Your Relationship Back On Track
These are my 27 top tips for getting your relationship back on track following the 2020 lockdown.
These tips can be applied for LIFE so implement them and keep working on them.
It has been a tough year for couples around the world (I am no exception) but times like these can make you or break you.
If you’re wanting to make it work then be prepared to put in the time and effort.
You can also read this article from Mark Manson which has advice from couples who have truly withstood the test of time:
On that note:
Tell me how this year has been for you in the comments below.
Do you have a technique that is not on this list that has kept your relationship strong throughout this time?
Drop a comment below, I’d love to hear your relationship story for 2020.
Relationship In Tatters Thanks To Lockdown? Rebuild It With This Expert Advice – Vogue
How is lockdown impacting our relationships? – Happiful
10 Best Pieces Of Relationship Advice, Straight From Couples Counselors – Women’s Health Magazine