We are Kara & Jared, an odd couple separated by a decade and brought together by chance. We met at college almost five years ago, have lived together two years, and anticipate a future full of adventure. Jared is a graphic designer and builder extraordinaire, while I work in Parks & Recreation. Together we raise two dogs, three chickens, and forty-three houseplants. Despite obstacles, we make our relationship work by learning from what doesn’t work and loving each other through trial and error. Below you will find three tips that have helped us become a healthy, happy, unstoppable couple.
1. Compromising won’t solve all your problems.
Compromise can be a beautiful thing… sometimes. It allows couples to come to an agreement, but the issues which caused the disagreement are often overlooked. We have learned that if we are always compromising, neither of us really gets what they want. Our alternative? Jared and I decided to practice saying “yes” to each others’ needs and requests as much as possible. When your partner is satisfied, you are likely to feel more content, too. So the next time he’s had a long day and asks, “Can you rub my back?” I say yes even though I’m busy doing ten other things. After all, happy partners sustain healthy relationships.
2. Make the distinction that you are partners, not conjoined twins.
Don’t get me wrong, we love spending time together - camping, cooking, gardening, bring it on! We make a great team. Be that as it may, Jared and I don’t need (or want!) to be with each other every waking moment. It is important to take time for ourselves. Jared needs to escape to the woods with the guys as much as I need to attend wine festivals with my girls. Likewise, we appreciate when our friends and their partners can take a break from each other, too. Coming to the realization that you don’t need to do everything together will improve your relationship and your friendships. Keep in mind that there are things you absolutely should do together. For us, these include: spending time with each others’ families, accomplishing domestic chores, and brainstorming to solve problems.
3. Learn from what doesn’t work in your relationship.
As a couple, you will eventually find some aspect of your relationship that just doesn’t jibe. First things first, do not expect your relationship, or your partner, to be perfect. You have to learn to deal with your differences. Routine doesn’t work for Jared – he gets bored. Confrontation doesn’t work for me – I get defensive. The list goes on… So what do you do? This is when verbal communication is crucial. Discuss what isn’t working, but be careful not to play the blame game. Once you understand the problem, devise several solutions and try every single one of them. Do not be afraid of trial and error. Part of being together is working with your partner, and making mistakes, to achieve the best possible outcome.