As soon as Christmas cards leave the shelf in the New Year sales, they are quickly replaced by Valentines cards – a swathe of pink and red hearts, promising true love and romance. It’s the stuff dreams are made of – finding a soul mate who will love you forever, warts and all. But with 42% of marriages in the UK ending in divorce, this dream isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and the reality just doesn’t match up. The question is …. Why?
Perhaps the answer lies in the gulf between the expectation and the reality. When we’re fed the Valentines message no one deigns to mention putting the washing on, going to the supermarket or cleaning out the cat’s litter tray. In my relationship, all of those jobs have to be attended to – they are not generally accompanied by swooning or protestations of love – even though we do love each deeply. The romantic ideal forgets to mention that life with your significant other will undoubtedly include some, quite frankly, mind-numbingly boring activities that just have to be attended too. We’d all prefer to be lying in a gondola in Venice at all times but that won’t get the ironing done!
That doesn’t mean that you and your partner can’t be one of the relationship success stories (and there are still lots of people celebrating many happy years together) but being a realistic romantic is the key:
- Enjoy the romantic hype – and the romantic moments when they come along. Just don’t expect them to be there all the time – remember you can have too much of a good thing anyway.
- Recognise that everything in life takes effort – start putting some into your relationship.
- Don’t expect perfection from your partner – you can’t provide that so why expect it from someone else?
- Remember that you’re different people and that you won’t agree on everything or do things in the same way – enjoy the differences because without them life would be a bit boring!
- Enjoy doing things together – but take time for yourself as well – you’re still an individual not just part of a duo.
- Life is busy but try and make time for each other and have some fun because too much time focusing on the detritus of life is what kills off many relationships.
- Be supportive – and expect the same back.
- Don’t forget to have sex! It’s a great stress relief and a nice reminder of the fact that you actually do quite fancy this person that you watch telly with every night.
- Lastly, if it’s not working anymore, be honest – perhaps it can be fixed but perhaps it’s time to move on – only you know the answer to that. Whether you’re in a relationship or not, life is for living!