When my husband and I first started our relationship, we weren’t ready to be in one. I had just received my bipolar diagnosis a year before we started dating so I was still learning about how to function in life with a Bipolar diagnosis and he was trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. I am thankful for the first doctor that I encountered after I received my diagnosis because he never said my life was going to end. He immediately referred me to famous people with my diagnosis who lived successful lives despite their illness. So to me this was just another hurdle in life; not the end of my life. This enabled me to go back to school, write, and compete in a triathlon. It wasn’t as easy as I thought and it took quite of few years longer than I thought it would to create a functional life but I can say now that I am able to lead a happy, productive, self-sufficient life.
Opposites attract and there were never two people so opposite, I think. Instead of embracing each other’s differences, we were very critical of them. I felt like he played too much and I worked too much so I criticized everything about him. I knew how to push his buttons and he knew how to push mine. Mine centered completely on my bipolar diagnosis and at that time I was very embarrassed about it. Another issue was that we did not set aside time to spend together. We needed that time to feel close to each other and understand each other more. We didn’t do that either and it really affected our relationship. Pushing buttons became worse and worse until we were in a very toxic relationship. At the end of our first go round, it no longer felt like a relationship and we broke up. Even though we loved each other, we needed to grow more as individual people away from each other for a while.
We stayed in touch and after a year and a half, we were in a relationship again. However, this time was completely different. We have a very healthy relationship now and we are extremely happy. Here are some tips to a healthy relationship that my husband and I learned the hard way.
1) Make Time for Each Other.
It’s important as a couple to spend time with each other to keep that closeness you have. Make sure you have a couple nights a week where it is just you and your significant other. The first time my husband and I dated, we did not make time for each other. We were busy with our own things and grew apart as the years went by.
2) Don’t Criticize or Judge.
It’s important not to criticize or judge your significant other. Give them the benefit of the doubt and talk to each other without judgement. You married your spouse because you knew they would always have your back. No matter what happens let them know that you support them. Even if you disagree with them, it’s important not to make them feel like they’re inferior. Always let them know that their opinion counts and agree to disagree.
There will be times when you will disagree completely about an issue. Talk it out without yelling. Give your perspective and evidence to back it up then allow them to do the same. Approach it as a friendly debate; not a war. There is no clear person who is right and no clear person who is wrong. It is just two people with differing opinions. Sometimes you won’t agree and this is where you have to decide if there is a better option; to meet in the middle. That’s what compromise is all about.
4) Encourage Each Other.
Life is tough enough without support from your significant other. Make sure you tell your partner one encouraging thing a day. It will really change your relationship if you focus on encouragement and positive statements.
5) Understand Each Other.
Understand your partner. Realize their strengths and weaknesses. Try to see their perspective on things. Through understanding your partner, you can be less critical and more patient which is essential in a successful relationship.
6) Bringing other people into the relationship.
Be careful about who you tell your relationship problems to. Honestly, if you have issues in your relationship, talk to your partner right away. Our mistake the first time around was to bring our family and friends into our problems which caused even more problems. Our family and friends ending up despising the other person so much so that we had no support for our relationship anymore. If you are having issues and feel like you cannot talk to your partner, talk to a licensed counselor until you are able to approach your significant other about the issues. You don’t want your family and friends to hate the person you have chosen to spend your life with.
7) Give Space.
We all need our own space once in a while and some people need more space than others. I need to go to the gym almost every day to de-stress just like my husband plays video games as a way to combat stress. It works out and makes the time we set aside for each other that more sacred.
Everyone has tough days, weeks, and months. During those times, pick up the slack of household chores or cooking. After my sister passed away, my husband jumped in and helped around the house a lot more and had dinner ready for me when I came home from work. He also was there for me whenever I needed to talk and every night when I had recurring nightmares. Being there for your partner when they are struggling is the very definition of teamwork. Without each other, we couldn’t get through this life. I am very blessed to have him on my team!
9) Talk About Issues the Same Day.
Talk to each other about what is bothering you in the relationship. I am one of those people who bottles everything up and explodes weeks or months later when I should have just said something. If you can’t talk about it right away without yelling or anger, then wait a few hours. Reason it out and then talk calmly to your partner about it later on but definitely talk about it. Don’t let it fester until it becomes a bigger problem than it could have been. Remember the saying, never go to bed angry. This is so true. It can cause damage in the relationship that could be irreparable.
There were quite a few things we had to learn as a couple to have a healthy, successful relationship. We made mistakes but that is how we learned what we needed to be successful in our current relationship. We know it’s not always going to be a walk in the park but we are committed to put the effort into the relationship to make it work. So during this month of love, I hope you can walk away with at least one tip from this post that will help you succeed in your current relationship. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!