Have you ever heard the old saying that “Relationships take work?” How does that make you feel when you hear that? Tired? A little frustrated? Do your eyeballs roll back in your head when you think of “working” on your relationship after a long day at the office?

Relationships can be a lot of work. Sometimes, they can just be plain hard. Many of us have been through relationships, or are in struggling ones. But even if we have given up once, we absolutely need to give ourselves a second chance at love. Here are a few things that could help you stay happy in your relationship and make it work.

Never assume, always ask: I do not care if you have been together for over 20 years and believe you know what the other person’s response is going to be to everything. More feelings are hurt and more communications misunderstood because of a simple assumption. Cut it out. Do not assume that you know what your significant other wants or doesn’t want, what they need or how they are going to react to a situation. Respect them enough to be upfront and ask them. You may be surprised at their response.

Make sure to keep yourself happy: We often forget that keeping ourselves happy and healthy is imperative – if we even want a shot at making anyone else happy. Whether it’s grabbing coffee with your friends, or going to the gym after a long day at work – if there is something you’d rather do than what your partner suggests, do it!

Practice active listening: Yes, this goes together with never assume, always ask. If you are going to ask, you must really listen to your partner’s response. When someone else is talking, let them finish talking completely. Do not interrupt them to insert your own response – when you are already thinking about what you are going to say next, before they have even finished talking, you cannot be present and fully aware of what they are saying. Think about how it feels to you when your partner actually hears what you are trying to communicate and give them the gift of listening actively.

Be willing to adjust: Sure, if your partner really wants to do something with you, or has somewhere important to go to and asks you to come along, you should. But remember that there is no point doing what they want and resenting them for “making” you do it. Do it because you love them and want them to be happy too.

Leave the skeletons in the closet:  You know exactly what I’m talking about. Those controversial moments in time you had long forgotten and thought you would never hear about again until that one disagreement or argument when any past hurt or misdeed rises up from the depths of the past as ammunition for the current moment. Stop holding on to past hurt, or do what you must to heal if you are using the past as an excuse for present situations. Keep current disagreements about current events. You will have more credibility and get more respect from your significant other.

Confront compassionately: If you attack someone, their natural instinct will be to immediately jump to their defense. This gets you nowhere except to a point where two people are having a rather loud conversation about who’s right and who’s wrong. The situation however, is rarely black and white. You both have valid points in all probability, but are being too stubborn to meet on a middle ground.

Celebrate each other: Male or female, we all want similar things in our relationships. To be appreciated, acknowledged, nurtured, supported, respected and loved. So, do one small thing each day to celebrate each other. Tell him he looks handsome in that new blue shirt, that she is beautiful and you’re the luckiest man in the world. Thank him for taking the trash out or putting the kids to bed. Tell her you appreciate everything she does for you. Leave love notes or send your significant other a card in the mail. It really is the little things that make such a big difference. Make the time to celebrate each other so you build a solid foundation of connection that will last the test of time.

Give them the benefit of doubt: It’s easy to believe that people may do things intentionally or doubt their honestly- to believe that your boyfriend was trying to hurt you by not inviting you out with his friends or that he double booked a date with you and a night with the guys. If you’re with someone who loves you, they want you to be happy. So whether it was calling you back or the movie plans you had, if they say it just slipped their mind, try and believe them.

Tell them you trust them, and mean it:  As easy as it is to get upset in certain situations, if you trust your partner, there is very little room for negativity. Trust your gut, but if you’re trying to do a relationship right, trusting the person you’re with is everything.

Don’t jump to conclusions. Very often, we react before we think. Whether it is based on our past experiences of our partner’s behavior or the fact that we have never seen them behave a certain way before, understand the situation before you come up with your own theory.

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