This Habit is one of the 10 Habits of Happy Couples Tina and Michael LeBlanc write about in their blog and in their book that will be released in the Fall of 2022. To check out the other Habits as they’re released weekly, check out the index below. To really use these Habits to work on your relationship, you can access their book – The 10 Habits of Happy Couples – which gives you complete examples of each Habit and exercises that you can do with your partner to develop these Habits in your relationship.
The 10 Habits of Happy Couples
Habit #10: Better Yourself First
Habit #9: Have Realistic Expectations
Habit #8: Have Clear Relationship Rules and Organize Your Daily Lives
Habit #6: Setting Goals and Dreaming Together
Habit #5: Respect Each Other
Habit #4: Prioritize Your Relationship
Habit #3: Understand Your Fights
Habit #2: Always Repair
Habit #1: Talk Openly and Tune In
Habit #9: Have Realistic Expectations
Thinking that a relationship means being totally head over heels with each other all the time is unrealistic. This feeling might last for a few years (or less), but then life happens, and lots of ups and downs come along.
So, expecting things to be easy and always happy can lead to difficulties. A lot fewer divorces would occur if people had two different expectations instead: That love is a constant commitment to your partner and that love is constantly evolving and changing.
Accept that successful relationships require a constant commitment to your partner regardless of life circumstances. Life throws curve balls, and we need to ensure we don’t let them get in the way of our relationship. Troubles could come along in the form of the loss of a job, a health issue, the loss of a loved one, or the long-held relationship fears your partner has. This is a much harder part of love that involves tears, anger, arguments and hurt at times. But if you keep focused on your partner and your bond, a deeper and stronger love has a chance to develop through these tough times, just like it did for us (the authors).
Get okay with riding the waves of a relationship – the ebbs and flows that are natural in our lives. Remember that a love that is alive is constantly evolving. People face challenges, and they change and grow. They need their partner to grow with them. They can’t be pegged into a way of being that you knew when you met. They need to be able to grow.
There’s a book we read together when we first met that we both love. It’s a Shel Silverstein book called “The Missing Piece Meets the Big O”.
It’s about learning to become yourself in the comfort of a relationship that allows you the space. Check it out. It’s beautifully written.
The more you learn how to do this with your partner, you’ll notice that the ‘downs’ don’t last as long, and the ‘ups’ are much more satisfying.
As Antoine Saint-Exupery wrote, “Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”
Tips on How to Have Realistic Expectations
If you are one of those people who get a thrill from high emotions, or your instinct is to bail when things get too hard, you need to seriously take a look at that and ask yourself where this is coming from. Learning how to stick it out through the hard times actually makes your love stronger. So perhaps you need to get the help to process this further to investigate where this habit was born so you can make some changes. The behaviour likely makes sense based on your past life experiences, but it’s no longer serving you well if it’s causing problems in your current relationship.
But right now, think about your partner. You chose this person as your partner for a reason. Deep down, you care for them and want what’s best for them. Be grateful to have someone willing to be by your side through the ups and downs of life. That helps strengthen the bond between you.
One tip to help you focus on the positives is to keep a Gratitude Journal or Gratitude Jar. Every day, write something about your partner that you are grateful for. Gratitude journalling has been shown to be very effective in increasing our joy. And the journals can be used for the purpose of increasing our appreciation of our partners.
And remember that enduring difficult times makes you stronger. If you stick with focusing on the positives and get the help you need when it gets too hard, it’s totally worth it on the other side. Give yourself that chance to get to that stronger, deeper bond.
About the Authors
Tina and Michael LeBlanc have been happily married since 2003, are parents to two teenage boys, and have over 20 years of combined experience as Licensed Counselling Therapists. Being experts in the Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) model and using it to help couples in their work, Tina and Michael drew from the EFT model to create a list of 10 Habits of Happy Couples. In this series of articles, they take you on a comprehensive walk through the 10 Habits, and with each, they give you an overview followed by specific tips you and your partner can use in your daily life.