When you think about your significant other in comparison to, say, the cashier at the grocery store, chances are you love your partner more than this stranger. Yet, sometimes we’re nicer to strangers than we are to our loved ones. Most people are pretty well-mannered in the company of strangers. Typically, we don’t go around yelling at other people in public when we’re frustrated or calling them names. We don’t criticize or nag them and we usually don’t assume the worst of them.
So why do we do think it’s ok to do these things to our significant others? It’s important to be comfortable with your partner or spouse, but sometimes we get so comfortable that we fail to follow social graces. Plus, the intimacy of a serious relationship means that they see you at your worst, when you’re sad, scared, stressed or angry. All the more reason to treat your partner right — this is the person who will be beside you when life gets hard.
You love your significant other and it’s time to show it, especially when times are tough or tense. Here are seven ways you can be a better partner:
Treat them like a stranger. Well, not exactly like a stranger but, as mentioned above, sometimes we treat people we don’t know better than we treat our partners. Don’t forget common courtesies at home — don’t be rude or curt, be polite, use your manners. Make a daily habit of treating each other with kindness and respect, even in little ways.
Consider what your partner wants, needs and feels. All too often, we become so absorbed in ourselves and what we’re dealing with that we forget how our mood and behaviors may affect the person closest to us. What are you doing right now and how does it make them feel? Take a moment to think about what your partner is dealing with right now, then acknowledge them and their feelings.
Don’t make assumptions. Unless you’ve got a psychic gift, you probably can’t read your partner’s mind. Sure, you know their tendencies and habits but that doesn’t mean you always know what they’re thinking or feeling. We need to give our loved ones the room to grow and change. Instead of assuming, ask and what you learn may surprise you.
Watch what you say. Sometimes it seems easier to apologize for using harsh words than it is to stop yourself from saying them. However, each mean name or insult chips away at the foundation of the relationship. If you’re fighting, it’s ok to feel what you’re feeling — anger, frustration, sadness — but the feeling doesn’t justify a hurtful action. Try to take a pause and create some space before arguments get nasty.
Give them the benefit of the doubt. A serious relationship requires trust. Assume that your significant other loves you, wants you to be happy and has your best interests at heart. Assume that they’re truthful with you. You love your partner and expect them to trust you — why not assume those feelings go both ways?
Let go of the past. Maybe you’ve been hurt before. Maybe a difficult upbringing, an awful ex or another negative experience has left you guarded and defensive. Don’t let your past cloud the way you see your relationship and hold you back from being vulnerable and open with your partner.
Show them the love they want. We all have a different idea of what love looks like. You might feel loved when you they buy you a bouquet of fresh flowers, but it might mean more to your spouse if you look after a chore they hate. Whether it’s a thoughtful gift, a helping hand, or even just a non-judgemental ear, make sure it’s their version of love, not yours.