9 Lifestyle Changes That Saved My Relationship

Happy Sunday, Cupcakes! This Sunday, I'll be sharing something more personal; but I thought it would be an interesting post to share because it is something really relatable and fits well with this whole Valentine's Day season of love. 

I have been in a relationship with my amazing boyfriend, Adam, since we were 17 years old. When we started dating, we didn't really think it was something serious--he asked me to prom, I said yes. Eventually we decided to give dating a shot because we really enjoyed each other's company. In a couple weeks, we will be celebrating our four year anniversary and, trust me, even we still can't believe how far we have come, despite everything we've been through together.
It is an interesting adventure growing up along side someone at such a young age. We have gone from innocent 17 year old kids--and seriously, I mean, we were kids--to young adults in our 20's soon to be graduating college, finding permanent jobs, and starting our futures.

Getting from Point A to where we are today was never all rainbows and sunshine. In fact, to get to where we are in our relationship now, it took a lot of arguing, conflict resolution, and potential break ups. I don't think a lot of people realize this, but falling in love--and staying in love--at such a young age is hard.

At this age, you are in your prime time of finding who you are as a person. You are going through constant changes and stages while your partner is as well. Through time, you realize you aren't--and they aren't--the same person from when you starting dating. And this is the part that shocks you the most. Because you feel like you have invested so much time into a relationship with a person who isn't the person you remember them being. I think this is why so many young couples end up not working. In the end, you have to work on yourself before you can work on creating a bond with another person. Sometimes it just doesn't work out. Lucky for us, that hasn't been the case. 

There was once a period in our relationship where we felt so disconnected and so different that we mutually considered ending it. We barely ever saw each other. We never talked throughout the day. We had different work schedules. We had different days off. On top of all of this, we didn't enjoy doing the same things when we did have time together. Things just never seemed to aligned for us. Because of that, our relationship was deteriorating. One night, he stayed up later than usual to wait for me to get home, and we talked about our situation. We both agreed that things were different--that we were different--and should consider taking a break. At the end of the conversation, though, we decided we'd give it a couple more weeks, and see where our relationship would take us--and if it lead us to the finish line, neither of us would be overly surprised or upset. 

After talking about it, our relationship started to spark again. We started doing things for each other we stopped doing at the beginning; we starting putting aside more time for one other; and overall our relationship started to regrow. At this point in our relationship, almost four years later, I can honestly say that we are at the strongest we have been in our relationship ever.

Here are nine changes we made in our lifestyles that saved our relationship:

*Disclaimer: I'm obviously not a relationship counselor. I'm just sharing things that have worked for us to strengthen and re-build our relationship. It may not work for everyone--but many of these help build healthy relationships (with not only your s/o, but many friends and family as well).

Talking about the good and bad feelings. And I mean everything. Adam and I have totally eliminated secrets from our relationship (except for surprises! Those are okay!). If I'm being super cranky, he'd tell me right away: "Hey, your attitude is really hurting my feelings". If he'd be spending more time playing video games with his friends than talking to me, I'd ask him "Can we spend some time for just me and you? I'd really like to just talk and spend time with you". On top of the bad things, talk about the good things in your relationship too. I love when Adam goes crazy about how cute he thinks my laugh is and tells me. And he loves when I praise him for how hard he's been working in school. Talking about everything helped build that framework of communication between one another. 

Make time to share and listen to highlights of each others' day. This has to be my favorite time of day. Adam and I still have pretty different work/school schedules. Nevertheless, on his drives home from work/school we always spend that 30 minute drive chatting on the phone about our day. Even though we didn't spend it together, we have a sense of what the other was doing all day, so it feels like we were there. It also is a great way to learn about their friends, what makes them upset, and things that really made their day. 

Set aside a day in your week for dates. Right now, ours is Mondays. During these days, it is just him and I doing whatever we want. Homework dates, movie nights, gaming, catching up on YouTube, maybe even a little Stay-cation somewhere--you name it! It is a fun way to spend a little time together while doing something and engaging with one another. For us, by setting aside a little time for one another, it is like saying "You matter and you deserve a time prioritized for just us".

Never go to bed angry or upset. This is a rule Adam and I have lived by. Even if we have to stay awake until 4am to cool off before we can talk about it, we both stay up and talk about it. It is okay to remove yourself from the situation when things get heated. Sort of like a boiling pot, you need to remove the cover to let some air cool it off or it will overflow. But, that doesn't mean to ignore the situation either. You don't just stop cooking your food on the stove because the water is beginning to bubble over. You wait for it to calm before continuing. Same thing for a dispute.We always wait for both of us to calm down, then talk about it when we're both level headed. We never go to bed angry or upset because we'd rather not start the next day on a bad note.

Compromise, compromise, compromise! When we can't see eye to eye or there are differences in views, we always talk it out, share what about our side is the most important to us, and we will make a compromise from there. For example, if we were originally supposed to hang out but then something (like an assignment) came up, instead of cancelling our date night all together, we'd opt for a homework/study date or we'd have our date night but end the night earlier than we usually do. This way, nobody is overly upset about not hanging out and we get to spend some time together.

Disclaimers Prevent Misunderstandings. If one of us is going to have a busy day, we tell each other: "Good morning babe. I have a busy day ahead. I'm ___________________. I hope you have a great day and I'll send you a message when I can". THIS is so much better than leaving them wondering all day what you're up to or if you're ignoring them. I'm actually the worst at this, but I always try to put that extra effort to let him know what I'm doing that day, where I am, etc., just so he doesn't think I've been kidnapped or whatever guys worry about (?).

Actively Listen. I think we all can agree there is a certain time for everything. In our relationship, there are certain times when we are open to multitasking while talking/hanging out together; and there are certain times when we are expected to give out 110% attention to one another. We have agreed open which times are which so that there are no misunderstandings. When we are on our PC's at night talking to each other on Skype, there is flexibility for multitasking--as most of the time we are doing homework or playing games. On the other hand, when we are on the phone while Adam drives home or are hanging out in person, we both have mutual expectations of each other to give all of our available attention to one another so that we can both enjoy that small time together with no distractions.

Always Greet Each Other "Good Morning" and "Good Night". This is something that should be happening anyways but I find many couples stop doing through time--or at least as my friends in relationships tell me. For us, sending a simple "Good Morning" in the morning tells the other that we are thinking of them and are wishing them a great start to the day. Similarly, by saying "Good Night" every night, it is our way to ensure the other ends the night on a great note.

Sometimes "Him & I" is better than just "Us". By this, I mean to live your own life; separate from your s/o. You don't need to do everything together. You don't need to only have shared friends. You don't need to have all the same hobbies or spend of your time together. With doing that, sometimes you lose your ability to differentiate between yourself as a separate person and yourself as part of the relationship. Even though Adam and I love spending time with each other, we also love letting the other spend time with friends alone or letting the other do separate hobbies they love by themselves without joining in. This is okay. I think so many people forget that when you are in a relationship, it is okay to be your own individual person outside of who you are inside of your relationship.

These were a couple lifestyle changes we both made to strengthen and save our relationship. I hope, if you are going through a rough time, you try some of these out. As I said earlier, obviously different things work for different relationships because each relationship is different in its own way--kind of like beautiful snowflakes. I hope if you do end up using any of these, you let me know how it impacted your experience in your relationship with your partner!


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*Referrals are affiliate links--meaning I will receive small commission every time a product is purchased. You are never obligated to buy anything and my opinion of these products or services are not altered just because I am receiving compensation. I respect my readers and would only share that which I enjoy myself. 

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