Even the best relationships require work – but how do you know when it’s too much work?. The following are four things that you should have to work on … and things you shouldn’t.
1. You should … work on building up your friendship by sharing in your common hobbies. The more you nurture your common hobbies, the better. You both like to stay fit? Join the same gym and take classes together. You both enjoy indie flicks? Do something different and go to a film festival.
You shouldn’t … have to force yourselves into having things in common. If you’ve got more differences than commonalities … you both may be working too hard! Do you often go to baseball games with your partner even though you can’t stand them? Does your partner struggle to stay awake when you pick the movie? Certainly, it’s important to compromise and do things for one another …but how frequently do you find yourselves not jiving?
2. You should … work on spending more cuddle time together. All couples can benefit from this! Sure, you are both busy and tired.But falling asleep on opposite ends of the bed every night and ignoring one another during the morning rush can make you both feel … lonely. Even when you’re busy, take a minute for at least a smooch; when you’re running errands together, go arm-in-arm!
You shouldn’t … have to force yourself to be intimate with your partner. Sure, you might not always “be in the mood.” But, if the very thought of your partner turns you off, there’s a problem. Perhaps your chemistry has died down … but try to remember what drew you to your partner in the first place. If the spark was there at the beginning, you can always get it back, so long as you have a relationship based on friendship and respect.
3. You should … work on supporting your partner. Two is better than one in terms of paying the rent, cooking meals, and helping each other with the laundry. Lend a helping hand before being asked to. When your partner is sick, bring her soup and cough drops. When your partner wants to take voice lessons even though he might be tone-deaf, don’t put him down, encourage him to give it a try!
You shouldn’t … have to exhaust yourself. If you find yourself working yourself to your own detriment for the sake of keeping the relationship going, it might be time to stop. Are you investing large quantities of money, emotion, and time into this relationship, wondering whether there will be any return? Have you hit your limit and feel stuck? If so, you might be putting in more than you are getting.
4. You should … always work to improve your communication skills. This includes making sure to really listen to what your partner says and calming yourself down when you are angry. All couples can benefit from avoiding the temptation to yell, be passive aggressive, and/or defensive during arguments.
You shouldn’t … stop trying to improve your communication because “you shouldn’t have to.” Many people think that they “shouldn’t have to” edit what they say to their partner for the sake of “honesty.” But there’s a difference between being honest and being insensitive. If you think before you post on social media, why not think before you speak to your partner?
Of course these shoulds and shouldn’ts do not answer all the questions. Feel free to email us or sign up to our email newsletter for more information.
Disclaimer: This site is intended to provide information only. It is not intended to provide psychological advice to any specific person. If you are in an immediate crisis, please call 911, or go to your nearest hospital. This site is designed to increase your knowledge about our approach and services.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Institute of Southern California
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Newport Beach, CA 92660-3504