Why It’s Important to Make Your Relationship The Priority
With couples therapy being a specialty here at Empowered, we’ve seen it all when it comes to relationships. People come in with all sorts of issues, whether it be miscommunication, infidelity and everything in-between. But there’s one thing these relationship problems seem to have in common…and that’s failure to make the relationship a priority.
If you’re in a relationship, first start by asking yourself…
Is your relationship your number one priority?
We all have to-do lists that seem to never end. These can be task and errand oriented, like picking up dry cleaning and going grocery shopping. There’s goal-oriented lists, like getting a promotion at work or running a marathon. And even people-oriented lists like taking care of yourself and making sure you’re happy and doing the same for your partner. With all that we have to accomplish, it can be difficult to prioritize. There are certain things that take priority, but ask yourself – where does your relationship fall on that list? Of course taking care of yourself is the most important thing. Outside of that, if your relationship isn’t even at the top, there can be consequences.
What happens when we don’t make our relationship priority one?
With so many things to accomplish, it can be challenging to even decide what to prioritize. Yes, it’s important to set goals, get ahead at work, and learn new things. But those things can sometimes come at the cost of your relationship.
When you neglect your partner, they tend to notice. It makes them feel unimportant which can cause resentment. This resentment can lead to arguing and whole array of problems. It can be helpful to put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if your partner was making you feel unimportant? Especially if you make them a top priority. Relationships should feel like a partnership, where both parties are making an equal effort. When it feels uneven, this is where the problems start to occur.
Once it seems like one partner has given up, the other tends to stop trying as well. Think about it – if you notice your partner making a constant effort, it’s more motivating for you to make an effort as well. If they stop making an effort, would you do the same? Everyone is different (and therefore so is every relationship) so people can view this effort way differently. One partner might make an effort by helping with your personal errands. While you prefer to see an effort made by carving out quality time for you to spend together. If you’re not familiar with the Love Languages, it’s a helpful tool to figure out if you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to expressing love and communication.
When you feel unimportant, it greatly affects your self-esteem and can take a toll on other aspects of your life. For example, if you feel your partner puts their job before your relationship, you might ask yourself – what did I do wrong? Why wasn’t I treated with the same or more importance as his / her career? This self-doubt can be destructive not only to you but to the relationship as a whole.
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What can we do about this?
Once you’ve figured out what you or your partner is or isn’t doing in the relationship, it will be easier to figure out how to fix it. You can’t get anywhere without getting to the root of the problem. Sometimes this takes some soul searching and tough conversations, but if you want your relationship to last, it will all be worth it.
An apology is nice but it’s a change in behavior the partner wants to see. This is the hardest piece of the puzzle, as changing one’s behavior is not easy. It takes real commitment to alter something you’re so used to doing. But when you truly love someone and want them to be happy, sometimes it’s the only solution. However, it’s important to realize that the change in behavior has to come from a loving, authentic place. If it doesn’t, you will resent your partner for making this change.
If you’re the one who has to make these changes, you’ll have to be willing to reallocate your time and energy, which may require a shift in the way you think. When it comes to big life changes and decisions, sometimes it just takes a little change in perspective. Once you can do that, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities, that come from an authentic and open-minded place.
When you’re a couple, you’re a team. Decisions you make not only affect you but your partner as well. So instead of just thinking “how will this decision get me ahead?” you must also take your partner’s opinion into consideration. This takes getting to know your partner on the deepest level possible and keeping a constant line of communication open.
Making your relationship priority number one doesn’t mean that it’s the end all be all. But it does mean that your decisions are made as a couple and not just as an individual. Certainly this doesn’t go for every single decision you make in a day. But big decisions involving work, family, or anything that will affect the both of you should be made as a team. This will make both of you feel important (as you both have a say in the matter) and give a sense of much needed equality to the relationship.
This can be especially difficult if you’ve come from bad previous relationships or if you were single for a long time. When you’re used to being on your own, it gives you this sense of independence you don’t want to lose. Like we mentioned previously, sometimes all it takes is a shift in perspective. Think of your relationship almost like another party – it’s you, your partner and your relationship. You nurture it, give it attention as well as a place of importance.
Whether you’ve been together for six months or 16 years, it’s important to always make an effort. Showing your partner you want to make them happy (and will make a real effort to do so) and you care about them more than anything makes all the difference. It sounds so simple, but with our lives being busier than ever, we sometimes neglect our relationship. And that’s okay. But it’s important to recognize the problem and make the necessary changes before it’s too late.
If you or your partner are currently struggling to make your relationship a priority, schedule an appointment with one of our therapists today.
Looking for Support?
Do you feel like your relationship isn’t a priority? For you or your partner?
Schedule an appointment with one of our couples counselors.