Relationships aren’t easy. At times, being someone’s other half can feel like carrying the Olympic torch. It takes commitment, hard work and emotional stamina to keep the flame of love alive. However, love isn’t meant to feel like a grueling test of endurance. Happy couples don’t need to perform mental and emotional gymnastics on a daily basis to keep their torch lit. Here are four things gold medal partners do not do in the game of love.
1. Keep score.
People who keep track of what their partner does and does not do for them generally do so because they feel overburdened. Whether one person is putting in 10% or 110%, relationships that keep a tally of how much effort each partner is contributing will never add up to 100. When a person approaches a relationship with a “what have you done for me lately?” attitude, she will be disappointed, often. If a couple truly desires a relationship based on utility, then go ahead; design a spreadsheet, create a chore chart and divvy up demands. Gold medal couples see the big picture. They see the work that each person does as part of a team effort. Go team!
2. Take each other for granted.
Most couples, gold medal or not, occasionally forget how much work goes into burning the eternal flame. When the spark is gone, the energy that both people spend can go unnoticed and unappreciated. If someone feels like their efforts are expected and then unappreciated, they will begin to question why they’re in such a thankless relationship in the first place. Again, gold medal partners realize that love is a choice they make each and every day. They approach each other with “an attitude of gratitude” because their partner has yet again chosen to give their time, attention and affection to them. Instead of becoming apathetic, happy couples remain appreciative of each other’s giving choices.
3. Belittle each other.
The irrationality of this action should speak for itself. Deriding someone does not demonstrate unconditional love. Rather, belittling a significant other conveys a lack of love. When people call negative attention to their partners short-comings, they do not show their acceptance of their partner. Instead, they exhibit a rigidity that makes their partner feel unaccepted and unloved. In loving relationships, partners declare their love through a willingness to work through each others imperfections, together. Content couples realize each others inadequacies as a way to become closer, not further apart.
4. Spend every moment together.
In the first blush of love, spending every waking moment together is normal. When Cupid shoots his shaft of love from up above, both partners can go to extremes to be with each other. Ah, here lies the rub. Too much together time can create the first three issues on this list: a neurotic attention to who does more, a lack of appreciation and an opposition to the the other’s “otherness.” Happy couples appreciate alone time. They enjoy their independence to see and do different things because at the end of the day, they share these experiences with each other. Gold medal partners understand that a little independence goes a long way.
Though these are only a few “don’ts,” the common denominator in healthy relationships simplifies to one basic “do,” balance. Emotionally stable people, whether in pairs or solo, work to achieve balance in their life. Understanding that love is only one aspect of life, albeit an awesome one, happy couples realize that the give and take they are a part of is also a part of the grand scheme of things. Couples who enjoy this equilibrium have a relationship that helps them not only become better partners, but better people.