by Gideon

June 27, 2018

This is part 2 of the 16 of the best relationship advice tips I’ve come across in my life so far. You can read part 1 here.

9. Keep growing – together and separately.

If I wasn’t a big fan before, I’m definitely one now.

I don’t know if you saw the video (watch below) by Will Smith and his inspirational relationship advice a while back.

It is really profound.

The point he is making is the same point this ninth best relationship advice tip is getting at.

Even though we are in a relationship with someone else, we, as individuals, are responsible for our own growth and everything that entails.

Will Smith talks about happiness, but it also extends to all other parts of our lives and well-being.

You and I, as individuals, are responsible for our own joy, happiness, well-being, inner peace, mindset, habits, growth, etc.

We cannot give any of those necessary elements to our well-being away to someone else.

Or like he put it – we cannot turn up at our partners with an empty cup expecting them to fill it up.

It is unfair and unrealistic.

It is also not sustainable.

In my opinion, if you want to serve your relationship well, make sure that you don’t rely on your relationship for your personal well-being and growth as a person.

Whether that be spiritual, mental, emotional, or physical.

Set your life up in such a way that you have more “wells” to tap into.

Take responsibility for your own personal growth and development, and by extension happiness, joy, inner peace, etc. and feed all of that back into your relationship.

Don’t be a beggar in your relationship while seeing and treating your partner like someone who is supposed to give handouts to you.

Now, even though growing separately, growing together is also extremely important for the well-being and health of your relationship long-term.

Yes, it is important to make sure that you keep growing as individuals, but it is also beneficial that you grow together as a couple.

Making it a goal to experience and learn new things together will only serve your relationship well.

After all, the fact that we are in a relationship indicates that we actually want to do stuff together.

So make sure that you put things in place for that to happen.

Remember how things were in the beginning?

You wanted to do everything together and were even willing to try things you were unsure of because you wanted to impress the other one.

That changes over time, however, as the novelty wears off.

But, that doesn’t mean it should.

You have to make it your focus to keep growing together also, otherwise growing separately only could lead to growing apart.

10. HOW you disagree is more important than THAT you disagree.

Some people believe that the key to relationship success is a lack of conflict, but is that really true?

Not exactly.

Relationship scientists have actually found that the mere presence of conflict does not necessarily indicate that the relationship is in trouble.

Rather, what is important for relationship success is HOW couples manage the conflicts that do inevitably arise.

The reality is that in any relationship, disagreement and conflict are almost inevitable.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The issue is not that we fight or disagree, but rather how we fight or disagree.

What we know about conflict and relationships, has taught us that conflict is fine and won’t destroy the relationship as long as a couple keeps positivity at the heart of their relationship, remain compassionate towards one another, fight fair and even with a little bit of humour.

Humour, empathy, compassion, and demonstrating listening are all helpful and positive conflict tactics.

Conversely, criticism and showing contempt and disgust, are particularly negative.

Relationship experts also tell us that a pattern of conflict where one person continually demands or nags, while the other one responds by avoiding or withdrawing (stonewalling), is a particularly toxic way of interacting and dealing with conflict.

Having disagreements and conflict in your relationship is not a problem.

It really comes down to HOW you deal with them.

Work very hard to remain positive in your relationship, stay turned towards your partner (i.e. remain compassionate, forgiving, and gracious – remembering you are fallible also), and avoid sweating the small stuff.

This also goes for some perpetual problems in your relationship.

Many relationships have very particular problems that are perpetual and difficult to overcome.

For example, one partner not getting along with the in-laws.

One way of dealing with this difficulty is making it the source of perpetual conflict.

Another way of dealing with it is remaining positive towards your partner and even finding a way to see the humour in the situation.

In this way, a perpetual problem cannot become a source of poison for your relationship.

But, you will have to adopt the attitude that creating happiness in your relationship is more important than overcoming every single perpetual problem.

11. Learn to let stuff go – i.e. stop sweating the small stuff.

This one leads on from the last.

And it’s pretty self-explanatory.

Your happiness in your relationship is in direct proportion to your ability to let things go.

The more you hold on to stuff, which then causes frustration, resentment, negativity, and contempt, the more your relationship will hurt in the end.

No relationship can survive with an overwhelming sense of negativity.

And a few things create that as holding onto stuff does.

I like how one author put it,

Often in our relationships, we use our minds in self-defeating or negative ways that encourage our love to drift away. – Richard Carlson

the cool thing about this statement is that as we use our minds in self-defeating and negative ways that cause our love to drift away, we can also change that by adopting different mindsets.

I like what William James once said,

The greatest discovery of my generation is that human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.

Our tendency as human beings is to overreact, blow things out of proportion, and hold on to stuff as we continue to focus on the negative aspects of life and our relationships.

Once we fall into the habit of doing that, negativity sets in.

And like I said earlier, no relationship can survive on negativity.

When we lose faith in our partners, or at least that’s the perception they get, it puts a chokehold on the relationship and its growth.

Learning to change your mindset and focus on what’s positive, and letting stuff go quickly, will make it far easier for you to create an environment of positivity in your relationship.

Become aware of the small things you sweat too easily and too often.

Then make every attempt to change this.

12. Small things add up.

Have you ever had the experience of thinking you had a certain amount of money in your bank account, only to discover at some stage there is far less in it than you thought?

And perhaps, initially, you had a knee-jerk reaction or even an outburst, until you actually looked at a statement.

Once you started going through the statement, you realised how each small transaction over time chipped away at your bank balance.

That’s very much how a relationship works as well.

Everything small thing we do either makes a deposit or withdrawal.

Nothing is neutral.

It all matters.

But, it’s not the big stuff that matters so much.

They do matter, but they tend to be few and far between.

The stuff that really matters in the long run, are the small things that either contribute or take away from the growth of your relationship.

When you show compassion, understanding, love, and presence in small amounts on a consistent daily basis, your relationship benefits in the long run.

These small things make a big difference over time.

But, conversely, when you neglect to show compassion, understanding, love and presence in small dosages when it matters most on a consistent daily basis, your relationship pays the price in the long run.

Small things do matter.

Small things are what matters most.

Positive or negative – either way, they make a difference.

So, make sure that you pay attention to the small things on a consistent daily basis to end up with a healthy relationship balance rather than in insolvency.

13. Sex matters – a lot!

Before we talk about WHY sex (or the lack thereof) matters a lot in a relationship, let’s look at a few general facts first.

Firstly, when you have sex, like when you have chocolate, the pleasure centres of your brain are stimulated in much the same way that partaking in other pleasurable experiences do.

Experiencing high levels of pleasure and having those anchored (or associated with) to your relationship goes a long way in establishing high levels of positivity between you and your partner.

All good stuff.

But, sex can be a powerful source of pleasure or a powerful source of pain.

In fact, sex always makes the top-four list of subjects that couples fight about.

Even in the free survey, I’ve been running on my site (see sidebar) since July 2017, lack of intimacy and poor communication/conflict are leading as the #1 biggest obstacles in relationships.

Studies show that, when things are going well, sex contributes only 15% to the overall satisfaction of a relationship.

But if things aren’t going well, it contributes 85% to the dissatisfaction!

The reality is, you can destroy your relationship without talking just as you can improve your relationship without talking, by ignoring certain important factors like sex.

Ignoring the importance of sex in a relationship is a very effective way to build resentment and destroy love in the long run.

And it doesn’t matter whether you agree with this or not, or even like it or not – the facts speak for themselves.

Sex is important, especially if one person in a couple values it.

If both don’t, then great, no worries.

But, if one person wants sex, and he or she doesn’t have sex – then the relationship has a real problem.

So, the first thing to figure out is where your partner stands on sex.

  • Is sex important for her or him?

Secondly, where do you stand on sex?

  • Is it important to you?

If there is a disconnect on this, chances are you will be experiencing some issues in this area of your relationship – and therefore ALL of your relationship.

So you need to find a way to address this.

To help you get started I would recommend you get these books on Amazon:

Also, if you want to work with sexologist one-on-one, I would recommend you check out Isiah McKimmie (Australia) and contact her here today.

Isiah-McKimmie
Isiah McKimmie

I love her philosophy on sex and intimacy, and her clients rave about working with her and the result they were able to create.

Don’t overlook the importance of this very controversial and sensitive area of your relationship, PLEASE!

There is no need to be hurting in this area with all the available help out there.

14. Have clear and healthy boundaries.

I wrote a whole article on this recently called Setting Boundaries: How to Do It The Right Way With These 8 Tips that looked at WHAT boundaries are as well as WHY they are important.

I referred to Melissa Sulkowski, a trained family mediator and divorce coach specializing in conflict work, who wrote on Goerie.com recently that simple things like setting boundaries can improve and even save your relationships at home and at work. She makes the point that boundaries come in all shapes and sizes and show up in different areas of our lives and that they serve to protect us. 

The point I made in that article is that setting boundaries are important for several reasons because they ultimately serve as barriers to protect YOU.

They are also tools for establishing limits with others and communicating that you won’t tolerate certain behaviours.

It is also usually those without personal boundaries that commonly end up in less than ideal situations and relationships.

The reality is that without limits, of any kind, you’re opening yourself up to become a victim to the whims of those around you.

So, what is a personal boundary exactly?

Melissa defined it as,

A boundary is anything that indicates a limit. Consider boundaries as the fence between your personal core values and the needs of others. Boundaries are created to mark our tolerance of how others behave towards us.

Psychology Today wrote,

Boundaries can be thought of as imaginary lines between you and others that distinguish what belongs to you from what doesn’t, and applies not only to your possessions, money, and body, but also to your thoughts, feelings, and needs. It can be helpful to think of your boundaries as a bottom line of sorts. Our boundaries are the limits we set and adhere to in our relationships that define what we are willing to accept and what we are willing to do. 

For me personally, setting boundaries are about RESPECT.

I added the definition,

Personal boundaries are about respecting yourself and demanding respect from others. Setting boundaries is therefore a safeguard against disrespect and abuse of any kind, and ensuring that you are treated the way you truly deserve. 

The point is this – if you’re in any kind of relationship at the moment where you feel you are being exploited, disrespected, or even abused, I encourage you to consider setting boundaries for yourself.

The article I wrote gives you a pretty good start, but first, you need to see the need for it.

If you are being exploited or abused at the moment, perhaps it’s time to look at your personal boundaries.

No or very flexible boundaries are not helpful, and you might want to consider putting some in place in your life as soon as possible.

People who have clear and healthy boundaries in place, find it much easier negotiating their needs and expectations in their relationship than those without.

Letting your partner walk all over you, or manipulate you every chance they get, are not love – it’s toxic to your personal wellbeing, as well as future.

15. Prevention is better than cure.

This is an extremely important relationship advice to keep in mind – WHEN you decide to seek help to improve your relationship is probably more crucial than their help itself.

Relationship experts tell us that marital or couples therapy can be effective, and some forms of therapy have the records (empirical data) to show this, but TIMING is probably more important than the type of therapy.

When it comes to improving your relationship, prevention does seem to be better than cure.

Dealing with relationship challenges or problems with well-timed therapy early on, or anticipating them in the first place (with preventative enhancement programs) seem to beat trying to fix things after they go wrong.

Once things start going wrong in a relationship and are allowed to fester and grow, turning the tide becomes increasingly difficult.

If you, therefore, find yourself constantly having a conflict on certain topics, as in the case with certain perpetual problems referred to earlier, dealing with them NOW rather than later might be a good idea.

It is not that curing issues is impossible, but rather far more difficult once problems have taken root.

World-renowned life coach, Tony Robbins, puts it best when he says,

Kill the monster while it is a baby.

Don’t allow any issues in your relationship to take root and become out of control weeds that suffocate the life out of your relationship.

Prevention is better than cure in this instance.

And if you have the time, make use of it.

16. Do what you did at the start of your relationship, and there won’t be an end. 

There are so much truth and power in this relationship advice tip.

I have tested this with many couples now, as well as in my marriage and it always ends up being an eye-opener.

We all know from experience that there is a period close to the beginning of most long-term relationships when we’re so swept up in the excitement of the chemistry of being in love that we don’t mind or just overlook so many things about our partners.

This is ironic because these same things oftentimes become ingredients for stress and frustration later on.

But, this is where we need to take control of our minds and attitudes to prevent this from happening.

This process of remembering who you fell for in the beginning, starts with you.

Think back and remember the details of your partner at the beginning – their personality, appearance, habits, preferences, favourite things to do, smile, focus, drive, etc.

Remember the things you found attractive.

In fact, remember the things you found so appealing that you couldn’t live without him or her.

In the early days of any romance, couples usually share some extremely powerful emotions, connection and exciting times.

And recalling them together can bring them back into focus and even spark new life in your relationship in the here and now.

This isn’t about recreating the past but using it to feed a richer experience in the here and now.

But this last relationship advice tip is about more than just remembering and talking about it.

This is about remembering how YOU thought, acted, and reacted differently from now.

When negativity of any kind moves into a relationship, the things we used to do in the beginning tend to move out.

And as we already mentioned, it is the small things done over time that makes a big difference in the long run.

Use this relationship advice tip to remember how you used to approach your partner and your relationship differently, which played a huge role in creating a different experience being with your partner.

Chances are both you and your partner are essentially still the same people as you were before.

Yes, we all get older, gain weight, start new jobs, etc, but we are essentially still the same people at our core.

It is your job to keep your focus on that person, and reminding yourself that he or she is still “in there,” rather than focus on all the negativity, resentment, and frustration.

That will make you blind for who your partner really is on the inside.

Remember how you use to treat your partner when they were upset or frustrated.

Remember how you use to talk to your partner, even when you had a long day.

Remember how you used to make a huge effort in treating them or showing them your love for them through small gestures like love notes.

Remember how you used to listen to them patiently, and make them a priority no matter what.

Remember how you would drop everything in an instant if they needed you, and you would come running.

These things tend to change over time.

Not because we can’t do them anymore, but because we have stopped “seeing” our partners – or at least, how we used to in the beginning.

But you can change that.

And it starts with remembering.

Last Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed this two-part blog post on the 16 best relationship advice tips I have ever come across.

There are many other great relationship advice tips I did not mention, but these ones I like a lot.

Hopefully, they will get you to start thinking about your relationship more.

But, I also hope that they will help you start thinking about the role YOU can play in changing the quality of your relationship if it struggling right now.

Don’t wait till it’s too late.

As the old saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago – the second-best time is now.

I truly hope that this served you, and I would love to hear from you.

Please leave any comments or questions in the comments section below if you want me to personally respond.

Remember, live and love fully.

About the author 

Gideon

Gideon is the Owner of The Relationship Guy, a top-100 marriage advice blog that helps married couples create happier relationships. He is a trained professional counsellor (DipProfCouns., DipMSHT.), has been happily married for over fifteen years and is a dad of two.​ He also holds Bachelor and Master degrees in the field of Theology and is currently studying Psychology at Massey University (New Zealand).

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