Making it stick: your best new relationship advice
July 2, 2015 3:24 PM   Subscribe

This previous question contains some awesome advice. I'm embarking on a new relationship with a wonderful man, and I would love some similar suggestions for fledgling couples.

We're both in our thirties, do not have kids, and live in nearby cities. We've both been in serious relationships before, but at the risk of disgusting many of you with shmoop, I've never been so excited to look forward to a future with someone. I do not want to screw it up. I do want to make the most of it!

Of particular interest: ways to keep a good work/love/life balance, since both of us are in that stage where we want to spend every waking minute together. But anything that helped you stay the course of a happy, healthy relationship is welcome!
posted by prewar lemonade to Human Relations (11 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
 
My last serious relationship, something that worked really well for us was picking a) an immovable Date Night. (for us it was Tuesday). More or less required death/blood/fire to interfere--that was our night together no matter what; b) likewise, we had a day (Monday) that was by default "this is my alone day." We'd sometimes see each other Mondays, mostly we'd do our own thing that day.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:32 PM on July 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


Switch off picking movies. Or do the one person picks 3 or 5 and other person picks from those thing.

Seriously that's gotta be #1.
posted by quincunx at 4:27 PM on July 2, 2015


Oh! Keep a list of things you want to do. Categorized, even (cost, indoor/outdoor, whatever). Whenever you are trying to figure out what to do/where to eat, pick something at random (or from within a category if e.g. cost is an issue that day).

Always ask for 100% of what you want. Negotiate down from there.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:35 PM on July 2, 2015 [11 favorites]


I know that it's beyond cliché by now, but: communication. And I think what a lot of people miss is that it's not only about raising concerns from the beginning and being clear about your wants and needs for the relationship, it's also about communicating good things and complimenting the person you're dating on the things they do that make you happy.
posted by capricorn at 5:34 PM on July 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


If you are ticked off about something, say nothing for 24 hours. Make sure there is the right amount of sleeping and eating in the 24 hours. Re-evaluate. Either it will have revealed itself as trivia and you can discard the irritation, or it will be clear that it needs to be dealt with, and you can approach it with a cool head.

And, when you find a thing that is ticking you off, quickly look around for something that will do the opposite. There are underpants on the floor, sure, but look at that neatly shovelled snow! Awesome! Shovelling you didn't do! Who cares about underpants?
posted by kmennie at 5:48 PM on July 2, 2015 [10 favorites]


One of the things that my fiancee and I did that has worked *really* well was make a pact up front to build healthy habits together. This means centering our eating together on home-cooked meals, not expensive/unhealthy date nights. Being mindful of each other's needs for exercise/alone time/cuddling and making it a focus of our relationship to make sure those needs are met. Making going to the doctor or filling that prescription or getting our teeth cleaned a reason for praise and celebration. Basically, when we think about our interactions, we want them to be healthy and sustainable for both of us, rather than getting caught up in the "woo we're together this means we can eat out and stay up too late and neglect our chores!" which was a really tempting path to follow.
posted by restless_nomad at 5:51 PM on July 2, 2015 [32 favorites]


To add to the list idea... Keep Google Doc spreadsheets of things to do. It's helpful, *and* you can flirt via the comments and chat and, hell formatting styles and fomulae if need be. It is the cutest if you are both certain types of dork.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 7:19 PM on July 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is advice for how to deal with controversial topics but you can probably use this for any argument. This is not professional advice. This is just what I have gathered from relationships. It might be helpful. When something comes up that bothers you, try to identify whether you are speaking emotionally or constructively.

Example: I got really upset when my partner did not gauge their drinking at the party last night. I decided to say:
a) emotional response (upset and word based): I thought we talked about this and you said you would only have two drinks. How can I trust you. ext
b) constructive (identifying thought processes and solution based): What goes through your mind when you start drinking? What is your thought pattern as it gets worse? Do you think you have a drinking problem? Have you tried thinking about it this way instead, maybe this can alter your behavior? (do a lot of reading and research together to try to help each other identify negative behavior. You can also make a list of your concerns if the behavior continues and go over that list. If you do identify an addictive behavior, be open to relapse and expect it. Do not shame the other person they probably feel ashamed already, instead try to make them feel comfortable sharing their problems. Its ok to be emotional sometimes but apologize and identify that you were speaking emotionally. If you find yourself speaking emotionally to the point that you are destroying rather than creating a safe environment to speak about controversial topics, seek therapy. Its a good idea to seek therapy anyways but especially so if you feel you cannot be constructive. Also, if there is addictive behavior, just pointing out bad behavior and how it effects both of you might not help and you should seek therapy and support groups like NA)

Example: Found lots of porn and concerned. I decide to say:
a) emotional (upset and word based): Am I not good enough?ext.... or in the case of the porn owner they get defensive about their porn, they feel ashamed, and are quick to says they will ever do it again
b) constructive (identifying thought processes and solution based): I want you to know that I love you and care about you. I also view porn and I want us to have a conversation about our relationship with porn. I don't want you to feel ashamed or defensive. Please feel free to come to me if you think your porn watching might be an addiction. (In this situation you want to remember that if they do have a porn addiction, they probably had it all along. This is from another forum but I found it very helpful:
- he was like this - meaning into porn- when he met you, when you had your first kiss, when you first made out- when he first said he loved you - and he's the same right now - its just that you now just found out and its freaking you out.
- my partner is respectful to woman - and that is his real way of relating to and viewing women that is separate from his fantasy and porn.

and once again (this is just copy paste): do a lot of reading and research together to try to help each other identify negative behavior. You can also make a list of your concerns if the behavior continues and go over that list. If you do identify an addictive behavior, be open to relapse and expect it. Do not shame the other person they probably feel ashamed already, instead try to make them feel comfortable sharing their problems. Its ok to be emotional sometimes but apologize and identify that you were speaking emotionally. If you find yourself speaking emotionally to the point that you are destroying rather than creating a safe environment to speak about controversial topics, seek therapy. Its a good idea to seek therapy anyways but especially so if you feel you cannot be constructive. Also, if there is addictive behavior, just pointing out bad behavior and how it effects both of you might not help and you should seek therapy and support groups like NA)

Make sure your partner knows that you are trying to be constructive otherwise they might feel like they are being interrogated when and this might lead them to feel tense. If you see that the other person is tense and may not be able to handle the conversation suggest that you can come back to it latter in the day or the following day. You don't want the person to feel uncomfortable you want to creating a safe environment to discuss issues. Of cores you should also be able to tell if the person is just avoiding the conversation and is not being constructive in the conversation. If this is the case, I suggest therapy.

Avoid expecting a winner and loser in an argument. Its better to view it as combining your forces against a problem rather than a win lose situation. The porn example is important since 56% of divorce cases are due to porn addiction so you will probably deal with this problem sooner or later. Another huge problem in relationships is mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. I also read some where that if you are arguing more than 20% of the time you will probably breakup. I could not find the source so that number could be completely off but the point is that you should not be arguing all the time.
posted by human_readable at 9:27 PM on July 2, 2015


These are great! Keep 'em coming!
posted by prewar lemonade at 4:45 PM on July 3, 2015


Just wanted to mention that although 56% of divorces are due to porn addiction, porn addicts are only about 10-15% of the population so there are a lot of couples out there that are not dealing with this problem well. Keep this in mind if you come across this issue in your relationship.
posted by human_readable at 9:46 PM on July 5, 2015


1. Remember that you are in the beginning stages of getting to know someone. Even if it feels like you two Really Really Already Know Each Other SO Well (!!!!!) -- you don't. You're learning. Keep reminding yourself of this fact, because in the beginning, it is very tempting to believe that you're more intimate than you actually are.

2. Make yourself sign up for a solo hobby (or resume the hobbies you used to have before the relationship) ..

3. Enjoy this phase! It will pass.. doesn't mean the relationship won't continue to be awesome, but you will both move on to another season of relating, and it won't always be this heady rush of hormones and new-person-energy. Pay attention to moments when you feel that you're spending too much time together -- and be honest with yourself and your boyfriend about your needs (for alone time, etc). Even if you *want* to spend time with him, check in with yourself to see what you really *need*.

4. Understand that it's okay to want to make it stick, but know that you can't *make* it stick.. that's out of your control. Try to relax, a little -- dream about the future, yes, but allow yourself to stay grounded in the moment.
posted by Gray Skies at 2:23 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


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