If you're like many couples, there may be things that your partner does or doesn't do that bother you. Maybe you wished he would eat better. Instead of kale salad (your 'go to' lunch) he typically has burgers and fries. Or perhaps you wish your boyfriend or girlfriend was more affectionate, romantic, complimentary, adventuresome or any number of other things.
If it's a new relationship, you may hesitate to express how you really feel as you're in the euphoric stages of new love and don't want to rock the boat by complaining too much. Also let's face it, we LOVE everything about our partner in the early stages of a relationship, but perhaps there are some things that we would love to tweak just a little.
Don't wait for your partner to give you what you need. And don't waste your energy complaining. Instead, give HIM what YOU need and he'll demonstrate the same behaviour in return. Lead by example and you'll have a stronger, happier relationship with less stress. Here are some ideas to help you get there.
"Communication to a relationship is like oxygen to life. Without it...it dies." Tony A. Gaskins Jr., author and motivational speaker.
Set the right tone for communicating
Whether you've been with your partner for weeks or decades, it's important to set and maintain a consistent pattern of communication. Because I travel so much, it's important to me that my boyfriend and I stay connected so I consistently send an early morning and late night text each day. I've been doing this since we first started dating to set the tone for how I'd like us to communicate.
The texts aren't long but it means a lot to me that we check in at the beginning and end of each day. I used to just send them without expecting a response but over time it has become an important part of our daily connection, whether we are in the same city or not. Now, he often surprises me with the first text of the day.
Want more romance? Then be more romantic
With many of my couple friends, it always seems that one person is more romantic than the other. Romance is very important to one of my close friends and she loves all things romantic: candlelight, special dinners and especially fresh flowers. In the early weeks of her relationship, her boyfriend would always surprise her with beautiful bouquets, knowing how much she loved them. Then the flowers came less frequently. Rather than complaining, she just bought her own every week. I think he got the message. His weekly gift of flowers quickly resumed without her having to utter one word.
Treat people the way you want to be treated
Growing up, I must have heard this quote a thousand times from my parents. They were right. You can't control other people's actions but you can control your own. What are the qualities that are most important to you? What do you value most in a relationship? So rather than wishing your partner had these qualities, instead demonstrate them yourself. For me, the qualities I most treasure are kindness, loyalty, honesty, a generous spirit and open-mindedness. So I shower my partner with lots of attention, affection and love, and I receive the same from him.
"Love is yet another name for respect. If you cannot respect a person for what they are; you can never ever truly, madly, or deeply love that person." Nikita Dudani, writer.
Respect each other's needs
Each one of us has different needs and expectations within a relationship. In an earlier column, I wrote about the difference between wants and needs. It can be tricky to figure out the difference. Make two separate lists so you don't confuse your wants and needs. And rather than keeping track on a score card, know that when needs are met in a relationship you feel more fulfilled, so the checklist becomes less important. What you really need is what nurtures you and feeds your soul.
Focus on the positives
No one person can meet all our needs or expectations, just as we can't meet theirs. Try to stay focused on the bigger picture about why you're together and the traits that you love about your partner. So maybe he'll never put the top on the toothpaste (even though you've asked countless times) or try kale salad. If you have similar values, that's far more important.
"The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in." Morrie Schwartz, professor and author.
Give and receive love with open arms
There can be lots of do's and don'ts in a relationship - the things your partner does that bother you and the things he or she doesn't do that bother you even more. Don't let these things derail what is at its core a great relationship. Lead by example and set the tone for a positive, healthy relationship. Give and receive love with every fibre of your soul and heart, in a spirit of openness, gratitude and acceptance. And know that if love and strong communication are at the core of your relationship, than the other things will work out.
How do you lead by example in your relationship? Tweet me @NatashaNKPR or leave a comment below.
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