Marriage & Family

How to be a better partner to your significant other

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Our relationships with our partners can steer us in different mood directions. Unfortunately, the everyday stresses of life can make it hard to maintain and nurture a loving relationship.

Between social and economic pressure, the ongoing pandemic, and an ever-changing world, some couples experience disconnection and begin to grow apart.

So is it possible to be a better partner to your significant other? Well, it all goes down to the littlest of things.

#1: Keep conversations going

One of the essential things you can do to maintain your relationship is talking to your partner. 

This doesn’t just mean sending them a short text at work or asking what movie they want to watch. It means having face-to-face quality conversations.

The simple act of talking to each other shows that you value each other and helps bring understanding into your relationship through proper conversations. 

#2: Practice active listening

Talking to your partner is only half of the equation. To effectively communicate with your partner, you must cultivate the habit of listening to them.

As M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, rightly writes, “You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.”

In our busy world, many of us are experts at half-listening. More often than not, our minds are focused on something else – the dishes to wash, the dog to feed, or bills to settle. This is not the best way to listen.

Instead, you want to keep up with active listening. Focus on your partner, listen without judgement, do not interrupt, and repeat summarised concepts to verify you are processing it right.

#3: Ask your partner what you can help with
a couple holding hands at the coffee table

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As people with diverse characteristics, we all have different likes and dislikes. One of the best ways to be a better partner is to ask your partner what their needs are.

See if you can help out with something that coincides with their love languages. Maybe your partner needs to spend more quality time together to feel loved, or perhaps they need to hear positive things from you.

“Talk with your partner about more nuanced ways you both feel loved, cared for and seen,” said psychotherapist Brittany Bouffard.

“Maybe more than your partner’s action of washing the dishes, you feel especially relieved if they called the internet company to dispute a bill — or another adulting task you dread. Your partner doesn’t need to stop helping with the dishes, of course, but it’s good to know more specifically what you most appreciate.”

#4: Start acting lest it becomes empty talk

Once you have your partner’s needs sorted, you should start acting! If your partner has told you that they value simply sitting on the couch and holding hands, initiate it the next time you guys come together to chill in the living room.

A loving gesture does not even need to be big to make a difference. Something as simple as making a cup of coffee or tea for your partner in the morning might just make their day without you knowing.

#5: Be consistent with your actions

We all get busy, and it is easy to forget that you would make dinner or put the laundry away.

“Being consistent and doing what you say goes a long way,” shared marriage and family therapist Anabel Basulto. For folks who are always absent-minded, why not use technology to your advantage?

It doesn’t take much time to set a reminder or alarm to send the car for a wash or pick up fresh loaves of bread for tomorrow’s breakfast.

#6: Let go of the small stuff
oil spill at the sink

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Due to COVID-19, many of us are spending more time than ever before with our partners at home.

It might be easy to fixate on a minor annoyance in these circumstances, which can escalate to disharmony. But is it really worth fighting over that little accidental spill at the sink? Probably not.

Letting go of your significant other’s mistakes will make your life easier too.

#7: Practice self-care

We’ve spent some time talking about our partners’ needs, but the fact remains that we are independent human beings from them, and we have needs too.

To recalibrate, take a weekend afternoon to yourself, or spend time reading a book, or FaceTime a friend. Doing things to take care of yourself will help you be a more fulfilled, less stressed out partner.

“If we don’t fill our own cups, it’s pretty much impossible to be present, patient and giving to our partners,” said psychologist Melissa Robinson-Brown based in New York City. “Take time for yourself and focus on restoration so you can show up in your relationship.”

#8: Take a break from screen time

Screen time can be a routine we’re so used to. It’s easy to sit and scroll mindlessly on our phones without realising time has passed. But it is the very thing that acts as a thief of attention.

It is hard to engage with someone on a meaningful level while engrossed in your mobile phone. So, put away the phone, turn off the television, and do something together without a device distraction.

Playing board games, taking a stroll, or even going bowling can be fun ways to spend quality time together.  

Be generous with thank-yous
an orange thank you card

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If there’s one thing you want to take away before leaving this page, just remember that being a better partner to your significant other can be as simple as being generous with your gratitude.

Even if they are doing something they routinely do, such as clearing trash, taking a moment of your time to tell them you appreciate their act is likely to warm their heart. We could all do with a little more love, can’t we?

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