In the age of social media, we can easily peek into the lives of innumerable couples. Many paint a pristine image and then later announce news of their separation. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that things aren’t always as they seem. I’m not writing this piece to claim perfection. I am writing this article to share the love lessons that have helped us maintain peace in hopes that they’ll be helpful for you too.
Growing up, couple screaming matches were glamorized. You’d see a man and a woman yelling at each other, pause and gaze into each other’s eyes, and a steamy make-out session would ensue. Make-up sex was, and still is, romanticized. All it takes is a roll in the hay to make everything A okay.
Displays of anger and jealousy are also depicted as a way a man shows he cares. Back in college, a friend of mine told me her boyfriend slapped her. She then added, “For him to get that angry, he must really care about me.” I was floored.
As someone who later married a man who ended up taking his frustrations out on her physically, I knew my next relationships would have to be peaceful.
If, like me, you desire peace in your relationships, read the lessons below:
Don’t date someone you want to change
I once dated a man who I wanted to change from the get-go. That was my mistake. I’d be angry every day for him simply being himself, or, at least, who he was at the time.
I don’t want to change my current partner, and I don’t mean to say he’s perfect. I accept him as is, and, as is, he’s pretty admirable. I like him. That’s key.
Try to make the other’s life easier
My partner and I don’t argue over house chores, because our goal is to make life as easy as possible. For example, I work from home; he goes into work. So, during the week, I cook. When I cook, he does the dishes. If I have a gig during the week that requires me to be out of the house most of the day, I always come home to a meal. As long as you both have the mindset of making life easy, neither party will feel burned out.
Don’t try to change your partner’s mind
My partner and I have debates that span hours. We definitely don’t agree on everything. Once, we debated for two hours over whether we, as humans, should move onto a new planet (even though we’re wrecking the one we have) if given the chance. Inconsequential stuff, really. But, we listened to each other throughout those two hours. When we debate, our goal isn’t to change the other’s mind. We’re simply expressing thoughts and exploring issues from different angles. Debates can turn into fights really quickly when your intent is changing the other’s mind.
Don’t insult one another
Calling your partner out of their name is one way to start a fight. Choose your words wisely. Your partner isn’t your enemy. Some things can’t be taken back. Imagine cursing out a business partner every time you disagree. Your business wouldn’t do so well.
Don’t make assumptions
Instead of assuming, ask for clarification. I can remember two occasions when my partner misunderstood something I said. So, he asked, “Did you mean x,y and z?” I told him what I actually meant, and thus an argument was prevented. I’ve done it in the past: getting into a stew over a perceived wrongdoing without asking for clarification. It’s a waste of time and energy.
Create the relationship you want
From the get-go, my boyfriend and I had a discussion about the type of relationship we wanted to create. We decided we didn’t want shouting or insults. At the time, neither of us wanted a relationship since we associated romance with stress. However, during our first seven-hour sit-down, we realized we had something worth investing in and decided to give it a go. And, we were intentional about it. We didn’t just want to go with the flow and end up with a relationship that didn’t add to our joy.
My motto: Just like a profitable business, a good relationship must be created. It isn’t random. I often preach about designing your life around your values. Do the same with your relationships. What do you value?
The above is my recipe for peace within a relationship. This isn’t to say that your relationship will last forever if you follow those tips. Life happens. Things come to an end. That’s normal. What isn’t normal is the idea that relationships have to be tumultuous. They really don’t have to be.
Previously published on medium
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Photo credit: on iStock