Jennifer Johnston-Jones, Ph.D.
Healthy long-term relationship
How do we create a healthy long-term relationship? When you’re a couple it’s important to have a couple plan and to agree on things overtly. In my practice, some of the couples I’ve seen find themselves having resentment or anger because their partner is out having soccer matches or going to a game or going shopping with her friends when in their mind that was meant to be together time. This is interesting because a lot of anger and emotions get tight to these behaviors; however, nothing was ever discussed.
Here is one of the first things you need to do. Hopefully you can do this when you just got together. If you’re further down the line do it tonight. Sit down and write down what your expectations are for each other. You can create your own reality. There’s no right or wrong. There’s no expert that’s going to tell you, well, couples should always stay together on the weekend or couples should have separate lives. It’s whatever you decide is right for you between you both. This is a two-person democracy, but you do need to make it very, very clear and write it down from the beginning.
So, if you decide together that it’s kind of bothering you that she is out shopping every Saturday afternoon with her girlfriends and you’re yourself watching the game, that needs to change. What are your expectations? Do you expect to spend all of Saturday and all of Sunday together? Are there two nights a week when you feel comfortable with your partner being out with his or her friends? Come up with a plan. It’s not hard to do. But one thing that really needs to happen is to have that be clear. You might not quite know what you expect yet and you might not have an answer. But if you’re not feeling right about it, bring it up. Talk about it. Work it out. Write it down. You will probably have two or three or maybe even ten revisions of the draft, but clarifying your expectations is the first thing that you can do to set up a healthy relationship.
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