An erosion of trust and disappointments may make it seem as though your relationship is on a slippery slope. But, it’s never too late to restore balance and fall back in love with your partner. All you need: a new mindset and the will to do it.
Statistics that the UN recently put out showed that the divorce rate in India is escalating and a whopping 17 per cent of married couples have opted to call it splits. Also, unlike earlier, where the reasons for divorce were usually very serious matters, like abuse, over the past decade ‘compatibility’ and ‘attitudinal problems’ have been cited more regularly as reasons for separation. This underscores a disturbing trend, where couples decide to part ways without putting in an effort to save what they have. While the statistics refer to people in marriages, it’s safe to assume this also holds true for those in live-in relationships and couples who are dating.
Rushing to the exit at the first sign of trouble may make sense to a generation that believes ‘you only live once’, but remember that you don’t know what’s on the other side of that door. Also remember that you’ll be walking away from someone you share a history with, someone who understands you and your family like no one else does. On the other hand, if you introspect, you’re sure to find enough reasons to work on what you have together. There’s no reset button when it comes to relationships, but here are some things that will help you move past that sense of being wronged and repair and restore the magic in yours.
Love is a verb
Love is a lot more about doing than feeling. Take over some of your partner’s responsibilities for a few days. Try to take the initiative to make up after a fight. Listen when your partner is talking — listen without interrupting or finishing their sentences. You’ll see that this makes a huge difference. Relationships are not about giving gifts (a great idea at times) but more about giving your partner attention and care.
Step into their shoes
Living together can magnify the bad habits of a person, and most of us — men and women — try to change our partners. Resist the temptation to do this. Remember, adjustments are integral for a good relationship. Should you feel that you are the one compromising all of the time, don’t let the resentment fester — air it out. Discuss it with your partner, so the two of you can come to an arrangement that works for both of you.
When you have this discussion, don’t be surprised to hear that your partner feels the same way too. Try to see things from your partner’s viewpoint.
Be equal partners
Whether in traditional India or the more emancipated West, many men are still not comfortable with the idea of a strong, independent modern woman. Thanks to deep-rooted societal conditioning, Indian women also often find themselves torn between housework and career, between ambition and what they have been taught is their ‘duty’. Many relationships bear the brunt of this, as affection falls prey to power-plays. The solution is actually surprisingly simple: approach your relationship as if it’s a 50-50 partnership. Neither party in the partnership should be overburdened with any role, be it housework or financial responsibility. And remember, for any partnership to thrive, there must be honesty, transparency and mutual respect.
Have more sex
Studies show that healthy young couples between 25 and 35 barely have sex three times a month. Sex is important to the health of a relationship, and couples must prioritise it, even over work and other commitments. When a couple starts to avoid sex, it’s a warning bell for the relationship. A good way to “get into the mood” is to do the silly things you did while dating — send each other naughty messages or have romantic dinners from time to time.
The power of money
According to a survey conducted by a foreign bank, 57 per cent of divorced couples pinpoint financial issues as the root cause for the breakdown in the trust between partners. It’s never too late to establish a finance policy that’s fair to both partners. Lay down clear boundaries about splitting bills, (if both are working), make investment decisions together and be clear about monthly expenditures and budgets.
Only about 10 per cent of people actually give into the temptation to stray. So, it is absolutely possible to stay faithful to your partner, and every effort must be made to do so. Researchers have found that the greatest risk factor for infidelity is opportunity. The trick to stay faithful is to avoid situations that could lead to your making bad decisions — don’t go to bars without your partner, for instance, and don’t send text messages to people with whom you may form a romantic/sexual attachment. The most effective way to stay faithful, however, is to establish clear cut values — loyalty and trust being the most important —that both partners must promise to live by.
Resolve fights immediately
During a loud shouting match, do remember it takes between 20 to 30 minutes to calm down from the physiological arousal of anger. During this time, distance yourself; remind yourself your spouse’s good qualities, as this will help your anger to subside. When the rage has faded, return to sort things out with a cooler head.
Introspect and make time for you
Often the anger and discontent directed towards one’s partner, stems from a sense of inner discontent. A bad job or exchanges with a tyrannical boss may affect your self-esteem and eat into your life the way acid eats into a sheet of metal. Unresolved issues from childhood may also, similarly, affect your relationship negatively. Therapy and self-realisation may help you dig deeper and pinpoint what the real problem is.
Consider marital therapy
If you’ve tried it all, but are still having a hard time making your relationship work, give counselling a go. The perspective of an outsider or the opportunity to discuss problems calmly can lead to invaluable insights.
This post originally appeared in the Mumbai Mirror.