Falling in love is fun, easy and pleasurable, but you’ve probably heard that staying in love is really hard work. And what exactly is that work? It turns out that the work of a relationship is really about training your mind. It’s about grasping a mindset that adjusts the lens on your problems. And trust me, if you can train your body, you can train your mind. Here are five ways to adjust your reality so that your relationship “problems” become your own personal fitness challenges:
1. Become A Glass Half Full Person
People often get stuck focusing on what’s bad instead of what’s good. Even in the worst of times, there is a silver lining. Make a rule in your relationship to list all the great things about the situation whenever you start to spiral down into negative thinking. And be vigilant about negative body language, vocal tone, facial expression, and yes, words. Honestly, you can control your mind and your thoughts affect your behavior.
2. Blame Yourself
It’s really easy to blame your partner for your problems. By most of the anxiety, anger and depression we feel, is our own baggage from the past. Blaming your partner will only push away a vital support person on your road to personal growth. Remember, we fall deeply in love with people who resemble our early like conflicts in some way. Your partner is an innocent bystander to your own perceptions of the relationship. Exploring your perceptions will get you farther than blaming him or her.
3. Fight As Often As Necessary
Believe it or not, arguments are intimacy waiting to happen. While plenty of people think that frequent conflict means they have chosen the wrong partner, in truth, conflict is a magical way to see your spouse’s tender spots. It’s an instant reminder of what hurts them and causes them to feel defensive. The road to intimacy is paved by rupture followed by repair. Avoiding disagreements denies you valuable make-up experiences that might include tender words, loving sex, and words of apology and forgiveness — all things that lead to a more secure relationship.
4. Find humor in the ridiculous
The father of psychology, Sigmund Freud, said there are only two healthy defenses against healthy pain: Sublimation, where we take our pain and help other experiencing similar agony, and, humor. It’s a way to get into a part of our brain reserved for lightness and fun. When my teenager and I are in a ridiculous argument that usually starts with “who took my computer charger” and ends with, “you always take all my stuff,” I sometimes stop and pretend that we are in a silly Saturday Night Live skit. You know, the ones where stupid people make big deals about small things. Or, I stop and put our troubles in perspective by saying we have “first world problems.” In the end, we often giggle at the absurdness of our tiff.