The To-Do List
Being in a relationship isn’t all glitter and prancing unicorns. My boyfriend is the best person I know but there are times when we are not on the same page and we have to accept that. The good times are great - we go on dates, we make each other laugh and we love a good cuddle.
But what happens when there’s a crack in the rift? Suddenly our favourite person in the world shows their dark side and we retaliate with angst, or get into a competition with each other, like who uses better vocabulary in an argument for instance. Stupid things like that.
So what do we do, or not do, so our relationship doesn’t turn boring, sour and we don’t become insane? We round up 10 pointers that will keep your relationship in check.
1. Keep Your Relationship Sacred
They say “All the world’s a stage” yet they also tell us to get a reality check. Your relationship is a real bond between yourself and your partner. We live in an age where we’re obsessed about gathering Likes and Followers on the Internet.
But not everyone is gonna relate to your love story - especially not when it's exam period and the only person you're looking to get full marks from is your significant other. On social media the world doesn’t need to validate you as "the best boyfriend/girlfriend” because your other half already thinks so. It’s probably still a better love story than Twilight but the rest of us really prefer to watch romances on Disney.
Why: Think of your relationship as a treasure. Keep it that way. You might want to show it off to the world, but the more people know about its details, the less of it you can call your own.
2. Don’t Get Others Involved
On the other end of the spectrum, don’t air your dirty laundry in public. Besides the online couple showcase you put on that no one cares about, keep the ugly parts to yourself too. No one needs that negative energy, nor does the Internet need to know how “screwed up” your relationship is just because he didn’t buy you flowers for your fourth “monthsary” (which, by the way, is one of the worst words to have ever been coined). Not to mention, people who subtweet are the WORST:
“Sometimes being in a relationship can feel so alone.”
“You don’t text anymore.”
Who are you talking about?! #shady
Why: It’s toxic to have your statement retweeted all over the internet that was made in a moment of angst. Do you really want to be that person who rallies an angry online horde of scathing remarks such as "girl you deserve so much better" against your own loved one?
3. If You Fight, Fight About The Right Things
Once, I had a fight with my boyfriend over a text. He was on my mind at one moment so I dropped him a “hello.” He replied thereafter but I didn’t continue the conversation. I went off to have a shower and long story short, we both behaved like little dweebs.
We didn’t talk for half a day and upon looking at it on hindsight, we didn’t know what happened. Maybe my premenstrual syndrome was contagious. But after feeling baffled and ashamed, that wasn’t worth the petty cold shoulder.
Why: You will have fights. But if you're fighting all the time, then your happily-ever-after will cease to be. Fight where it’s worth fighting for and always focus on making as many beautiful moments as you can.
4. Communicate Beyond Words
Just be there for each other. It's not always about providing the right answer. Having effective communication is more than just being a listening ear and sharing good advice. Sometimes it helps to keep the pom-poms aside and stop being a cheerleader for the day. “Never give up!”/ “It can only get better from here.”/ “Leave it to the sky to be blue and be the sunshine instead!” Was that a line from Poems About Marshmallows published by I. M. Cute? If you’re just gonna repeat what’s written on Hallmark cards, at least look the part.
Why: There’s no point saying empty words if we’re struggling to be our partner’s inspiration. Sometimes what we just need to do is literally hold each other. Everyone loves a good hug. “You say it best when you say nothing at all.” Ronan Keating's got it covered since 1999.
5. You Don't Always Have To Be Right
Ah, Pride. It’s everyone’s best friend & worst enemy. But which comes first - the love of your life or your ego? Sometimes pride gets the better of us and winning an argument gives us the satisfaction of accomplishment. But at what cost?
Stop being condescending to your partner and analyse the situation. There’s no place for scoreboards here. It takes two hands to clap so reconcile with your faults and bring it full circle with your partner too.
Why: It's not always about being right. There will be times when you'll need to decide if being right is worth pushing your partner further away, when your partner's intentions are as good as yours.
Tip: when you feel a potential tension-moment approaching, look them in the eye and say “I love you.” Now how can anyone stay mad at that? It’s a nice surprise to hold off the incoming quarrel and peace befalls your world again.
6. Put In Effort By Trying Something New
So he’s always the one paying for dinner and she’s always the one cooking the stay-home meals. Whose idea was it to designate the relationship roster? As time passes, we grow into our relationship and certain things become stagnant. We get too dependent on our partners and what once was a gesture of offering turns into a chore. Dates also get old if you fall into the routine of things: dinner, movie, sleep, repeat.
It’s time to break that chain and try something new. Start being proactive to your partner’s likes and dislikes and take over the reins once in a while. If your girl likes ballet, surprise her with a show. Sure, it disturbs you to watch fellow men in white tights but don’t complain - the females are in theirs as well.
Why: Becoming comfortable with each other is one step from being in a rut. Innovate and find new ways to interest each other - a spark is what will keep the relationship alive.
7. Never Compare Your Relationship With Others
I would absolutely love to award Brangelina for being the most amazing couple in the entire universe. Or rather, Blake Lively + Ryan Reynolds for naming their daughter James. (It’s the 21st century and we are obsessed with being gender neutral.) And who could forget Beyonce and Jay-Z?!
In spite of all the Grammys and Oscars these people have won, the award for ‘Best Couple’ doesn’t exist. Being in a relationship isn’t a competition. Each of us are unique individuals and the person you’ve fallen in love with is the only person of their kind out there. We may be tinged with jealousy from the other couples doing cool things on Instagram but that shouldn’t stop you from joining in!
Why: There’s no such thing as a “better relationship.” All of them require constant work and there’s no one else better to do it with than with your loved one.
8. Never Go Full Retard
Arguments are healthy, but not when they explode into a quarrel. You’re debating whether Mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese is best for a grilled cheese sandwich* and your partner is being annoying because they say “your choice of cheese is stupid and besides, Jack cheese melts better anyway.”
“MOZZARELLA IS NOT STUPID. HOW DARE YOU. APOLOGIZE TO ITALY.” You then proceed to smash a nearby vase (there’s always one around) and storm off. The cheese discussion caused you to have a meltdown and that’s on you. If you plan to be in a long-term relationship, you need to suck. it. up.
Why: You’re gonna have to deal with a lot more annoying moments for the rest of your life and I guarantee you won’t be that innocent yourself. You don’t want your best friend to turn into your worst enemy overnight so don’t lose your cool over the smallest things. Also, refer to point #3 when things are getting awry.
*Answer: Both cheeses, duh.
9. Don't Make Your Partner Play Guessing Games
Sometimes you assume that just because you’ve been in a relationship for two years, you know each other inside out.
Your partner shouldn’t just be your lover but your best friend too. When you’re upset, say it. When you’re mad, say it too. Dropping hints and getting the other to read between the lines takes a toll between two people and communication becomes demoralised.
Why: Never worry about unladening your load and coming across as the “weak link.” Your partner is there for support and you should believe that the two of you make a great team.
10. Never Go to Bed Angry
Dinner was awkward, you skipped dessert and you went straight to bed. Now you’re lying on your bed in cold sweat, staring fixatedly at the ceiling as your body is entangled in your blanket from all the tossing and turning. You replay the last scene over and over in your head and like a flesh-eating disease, you feel the cavity of where your heart used to be disintegrate into oblivion.
Then again, discussing a problem at 3 in the morning isn’t a feasible thing to do. Both parties are worn out and cranky and you two will never come to a consensus. Instead, acknowledge the situation and agree to talk about it the next morning.
Why: Don't sweep things under the rug but having a good night’s rest will help to clear one’s head. Now sweet dreams ahead.
Onward to a Happy, Healthy Relationship
"Sexiness wears thin after a while and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that's a real treat." - Joanne Woodward
Love is magic but a relationship is all about work, work, work. We have many ideals of a “perfect” relationship but there’s no saying that it can’t come true. Reminisce the first time you met, discuss your first impressions of each other, look back and laugh at your awkward first kiss, joke about where the both of you will be five years from now.
When push comes to shove, never compartmentalise the happy moments and forget the foundation you both are built on - love.