Why does working on yourself make you a better partner?

A long-term union starts with self-aware, happy individuals.

Whether you are about to get hitched or are celebrating 20 years of your marriage, there is always room to enhance the bond with your partner. It's crucial to understand that constant effort and attention can strengthen a union, however old or new it may be. 

Though every couple's dynamics are different, self-love and an intentional effort to become the best version of yourself, are two prerequisites that help every individual thrive in a relationship. This, in turn, improves the relationship.

According to Sharon Maria Ben, a certified clinical psychologist and a relationship expert, it's difficult to be in a relationship if you lack a strong feeling of self-intimacy. “I have come across many couples who often seek self-worth, happiness, and validation from their partners. This insecure and needy approach can turn sour and result in resentful marriages. A long-term connection always comes down to the core foundation, the sense of self,” states Maria Ben. According to her, self-love in a relationship looks like: I love myself and my relationship. Neither do I depend on it nor it takes away my self-identity; instead, it enhances me as an individual.

Couples who strive to bring the best version of themselves to the relationship, often contribute to a long-lasting marriage. Here, Maria Ben takes us through the five ways to work on oneself within a relationship to become a better spouse. 

Increase self awareness

Self-awareness is an ongoing process of introspection and willingness to learn and grow, and it is important to gain a deeper cognisance of how you show up to your partner and the relationship. It involves an understanding of your values, emotions, and behaviours. Developing self-awareness helps you notice personal triggers, which can be communicated effectively to your spouse. Expressing your needs and feelings with clarity can help you navigate conflicts in a healthier, more respectful way. 

Improve emotional intelligence 

Emotional intelligence is crucial for an optimally functioning relationship. It involves learning how to manage your emotions and adapt to situations. People who lack emotional regulation react impulsively to difficult situations and during conflicts. This often ends up in toxic behaviour and misunderstandings. If you are not able to regulate your emotions effectively, avoid addressing sensitive topics while you are going through emotional waters. Return to the conversation when both partners are calm and receptive. This helps you avoid unwanted arguments and respond to your partner with empathy and understanding. 

Practice effective communication

No matter how well you know each other, you cannot read each other's minds. Thus, effective communication plays is considered as the cornerstone of a healthy relationship. It involves being able to communicate with clarity, empathy, and respect. Make sure you regularly check in with your partner about their feelings and thoughts to avoid misunderstandings. You should avoid forming assumptions about your partner's intentions and feelings; always ask for clarification before jumping to conclusions. Practice being an active listener to foster open and honest communication. Always focus on expressing each other's feelings instead of getting into the blame game.

Respect boundaries 

Maintaining a healthy boundary enhances relationship dynamics. You and your partner should respect each other's individual space and needs within the relationship. Co-dependency creates an unhealthy imbalance where one or both partners get overly absorbed into the relationship. This restricts a sense of individuality and blurs personal boundaries. Spend time apart working on yourself and doing activities that nurture your soul. 

Take responsibility for your happiness 

Repeat after us, you are the master of your happiness. A balanced and harmonious relationship is the result of both partners cultivating a strong sense of individual happiness. Placing the burden of your contentment solely on your partner can create unhealthy expectations. A state of emotional well-being starts with the acceptance that the only person you can change is you. Understand your needs and dissatisfaction and work towards self-fulfilment. Working on your past baggage can help you feel lighter and be present and happy in your relationship. 

If you feel that you are struggling in your relationship, the first thing to do is focus on yourself rather than blaming it on your partner or trying to change them. 

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