Relationship advice is so easy to come across. Not all of it is worth hearing or listening to. It may be irritating and even disrespectful when it comes uninvited (we all have that friend). However, finding what you’re really seeking for, like a firm solution on whether or not yours is sound, and what’s genuinely important, can be difficult. Take it from the experts if you want the absolute best pieces of relationship advice… After all they’ve studied it.
Clinical psychologist Seth J. Gillihan, PhD says, “Most of us operate in crisis mode for our relationship, only giving it sincere attention when there’s a problem that needs fixing… But a relationship is like a garden: Even when it’s doing well, weeds can grow and overtake it.”
Hands down, here are the top ten bits of relationship advice from the wisest, most realistic relationship therapists around…
1. Hope for the best at all times.
The first piece of relationship advice is to try not to read too much into your significant other’s actions and interpret them in a negative way. Optimism can go a long way, along with openness and communication.
“Especially when we’re already in an irritated state, we have a hair-trigger for taking things the wrong way and assuming the worst,” says Gillihan. You can easily fall into a habit of looking for personal meanings in your partner’s habits. Chances are, it’s unintentional!
2. Be aware of projections
When it comes to interpretations, one factor that might skew them is a psychological concept called projection.
In a nutshell, projection is when you project your own sentiments about yourself or a circumstance onto another else. While projecting is usually a subconscious behaviour, it leads you to believe that your spouse feels a particular way when they don’t. A very important piece of relationship advice…
For instance, if you’ve been cheated on before and have trust difficulties as a result (fair enough), when your significant other expresses concern, it might be misinterpreted as an allegation of disloyalty. When, in reality, they’re just curious as to why you’ve been quiet for the previous two days.
Step back, try to view the situation from an outside perspective and examine your interpretations and perceptions of the situation. This will help you break away from those insecurities.
3. Avoid ‘should-ing’
Gillihan says that the word should “creates a sense of injustice—that something ought to be different from how it is.” The majority of the time, what comes after the verb is a personal want or choice, not a fact.
So say it like a desire, something like, “I wish you could take a few hours off work,” or “I’d love it if you could help around the house more.” Even if they can’t make it happen right now, they won’t feel like they’re doing something wrong.
Listening is a verb, not merely a passive process in which you talk while I don’t. It necessitates silence from your own feelings and thoughts in order to properly tune in to another’s. Rachel Sussman, LCSW, a relationship psychotherapist in New York City says, “Everyone wants to be heard. But a lot of couples don’t feel heard as time goes on, and that generates a lot of difficulties.” Of course, expressing oneself is crucial, but you must first take a step back and listen.”
You want to affirm your partner’s sentiments, even if you don’t concur with them. You’re a completely different person with different views and perceptions, so you won’t always agree—but if you want your relationship to thrive, you must therefore, always let them know that they’re not wrong.
5. Show gratitude
According to research, thankfulness is the key to a happy life—and it’s also a requirement for a successful relationship.
Consider this: Relationships need effort, and not being recognised for your time and effort, just like at job, may make you feel undervalued and even resentful.
So pay attention to and appreciate your significant other when they do something even vaguely unselfish and good for you. Recognise things they wouldn’t expect you to mention, like swapping dishes with you because you liked theirs better.
6. Be a team
Susan says, “When we’re overwhelmed, we often bring so little to our relationship. The right equation is to be your best and most loving self at home, so the strength of your bond gives you strength to handle everything else.” When you’re going through a full week at work and everything is tightened, let your partner know. Ask for help when you need it, your significant other wants you to rely on them.
7. Have shared goals
You have objectives, and your spouse has objectives—but what about goals that you may pursue together? To maintain your link super strong, Dr Chloe Carmichael, PhD, a clinical psychologist in NYC, says it’s crucial to imagine attaining or completing something as a unit.
Make a schedule for your financial, vacation, and hobbies objectives. “This allows you to see yourselves together in the future, fosters debate about lifestyle choices, and reminds you to support one another by holding each other accountable and riding on each other’s momentum,” she says.
8. Put intimacy first
We’re talking about the type of closeness that comes through physical contact, honest eye contact, reciprocal smiles, and other small gestures that warm your heart with this relationship advice.
“These are the things that remind your spouse that you’re in this together, that you chose them, and that you’re glad you did. If you notice that’s declining, it could be the time to take a moment and talk to yourself about why—is it on your end, theirs or both?” adds Sussman.
9. Check in regularly
No matter how well someone knows you, they will never be able to know what’s going on in your thoughts at all times. So don’t hold your breath for them to do so…ever.
Dr Chloe suggests that once you’ve had a chance to evaluate and organise your ideas, you’ll spare yourself a lot of trouble.
That said, you and your partner may both be harbouring a lot of ideas that you may never express for various reasons. Perhaps they don’t think you’d respond well to their concerns, or that speaking them wouldn’t result in any positive change, so they swallow their pride and go on.
10. See your partner in the present
A long-term relationship provides incredible security. However, one typical cost is how “accustomed to” your spouse you grow. “At some point, we’re looking at a projection or recollection of the individual, not who they are in 3-D at that moment,” Gillihan explains. “As a result, you make assumptions about what people need based on their history rather than their current situation.”
And, of course, people (including yourself) change with time, and it’s up to you to understand how when you’re with someone for a long period. This relationship advice proposes that anytime you get a chance—on your next date night, when they’re preparing coffee after they return from a run—take a moment to pause and truly observe your partner.