It took years for me to realize a relationship is not a romance movie
At some point in our lives, we may believe that love should be the kind of romance we see portrayed in films, television, and novels.
For some reason, I always thought my romantic relationships were less if I did not experience this kind of fairy-tale relationship. Maybe this is why I kept meeting frogs.
At times, I bought into the belief that if I had a relationship with the perfect prince, then all would be well in my life. I thought, Now, I will be safe forever.
In truth, I did marry a prince—but a prince who is also human, who has faults and issues just like every person, no matter how wonderful he is.
At some point, I grew up and learned to let go of the crazy metaphor of romantic love in order to find true happiness. Yes, I was disappointed to realise that the knight riding through the night to save the damsel in distress is a fallacy. It’s a bummer.
But, let’s look at it in this light: We all saw Romeo and Juliet and Titanic. Why stories like these make our hearts sing is that the love is unrequited. Unavailability fuels the romantic expression.
This kind of romantic story can only work when there is an absence of the lover. Sometimes, they have to die in the end in order for their love to fit into this romantic view. Or, we eat handfuls of popcorn, waiting to see if they live happily ever after, and we rarely find out if they really do.
The romantic love fantasy is really a substitute for intimacy—real, connected, vulnerable intimacy.
So then, how do we make relationships work and stay happy?
We begin with the understanding of what pure love is and then redefine and update the romantic fairytale into a healthier type of love.
Say “I love you” with your actions:
Perform little acts of kindness for your partner that let them know you love them. Some ideas include the following:
- Warm her car on a cold morning.
- Bring home take-out from his favourite Chinese restaurant.
- Get up fifteen minutes before she does so that breakfast is ready when she walks into the kitchen.
- When you’re out shopping get him a little surprise gift.
Communication is key. It is one of the most important qualities a healthy relationship. However, not everyone knows how to communicate properly … or even communicate at all. Happy and healthy couples have this game down. They vocalize their love for one another, saying “I love you” often and offering compliments. They also discuss the bad instead of sweeping issues under the rug. In order to move forward and grow, you two need to be able to truly talk about your feelings. No matter how awkward or uncomfortable it feels, it will make for a long-lasting and fulfilling relationship.
Quality Time, Not Quantity:
It’s all about quality over quantity. It doesn’t matter how much time you and your partner spend together. The most important part is about the quality of this time. There’s a huge difference between having dinner at a table while talking about your day at work, versus having dinner while sitting on a couch watching the latest episode of The Voice. It’s fine to zone out together and enjoy distractions, but it’s crucial to make sure you two are still engaging and spending quality time together to maintain a deep connection.
Often, we forget to let other people in our lives know that we appreciate them. We think it, but we don’t remember to show it. This occurs in our romantic relationships as well. Show your special someone that you love him or her. This could be done with words, cards, flowers, acts of kindness, or more. Remember, a flower a day keeps the fights at bay. Okay, maybe not every day, but you get the point.
Recognize that all relationships have their ups and downs:
Just as you can’t expect to be happy all the time, you shouldn’t expect your relationship to be at a continuous high. When you make a long-term commitment to someone you have to be willing to ride the highs, as well as the lows, together.
Use the word “we”:
Tamar Chansky, Ph.D., explains that researcher Robert Levenson and his colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, found that couples who use the word “we” when talking are happier, calmer, and in general are more satisfied with their relationships than couples whose communication is more populated by the pronouns “you”, “me” and “I”.
Dr. Chansky explains that the word “we” is a game changer. It sets off a program of connectedness in the brain so that instead of being in a “you vs. me” mindset, we’re in a collaborative mindset. This collaborative mindset makes us more loving and generous.