With spring comes change and with that, sometimes relationships change. If the winter had you cooped up and feeling blasé you may be coming down with Spring fever. It’s time to check off the spring cleaning your relationship list and reevaluate your current situation.
Maintaining a relationship takes constant nurturing and Spring is a great time to do some emotional cleaning. Clear out the cobwebs and dust bunnies that are threatening your relationship before you scratch that itch for something new, or worse, your partner does.
Spring Cleaning Your Relationship
1. Ask yourself how you truly feel. Are you happy? Restless? Stifled? Bored?
2. Handwrite your pros & cons. Don’t focus on your partner focus on you, and be really honest.
- What are you good at?
- What needs work?
- Are you doing everything you can?
- What can you change?
Acknowledge yourself for the things you do well. Loving yourself is essential to taking care of you.
The most common thing that exasperates relationships is ghosts from the past. They come in many forms; memories of previous lovers, resentment of earlier wrongs, unresolved disagreements, deep-rooted bad habits, the list could go on and on. To be truly contented you have to exorcize them.
3. Memories of Previous Lovers
- Remove all physical traces of ex-lovers and put them in storage somewhere.
- Write a letter telling each ex good-bye and that you won’t be thinking about them anymore.
- DON’T mail the letters! Maybe even burn them to signify its finality.
- Every time you start to think of an ex remind yourself you said you wouldn’t. Think of something in the present instead.
4. Forgiveness can be hard but you have to master it for a healthy relationship. If you’re still berating your partner for something ancient you have to stop for your own good. Harboring resentment generates stress. If you can’t let it go you have to move on. Nagging isn’t good for either of you. It destroys the love your partner feels for you and will in time end your relationship.
5. Blame is another demon. Take responsibility for your own actions and decisions. It’s not terrible to be wrong if you can apologize and learn something. Plus it feels better than being defensive. Sometimes you might have to bury the hatchet by both agreeing to disagree.
Once you have a clear picture of your participation direct your focus towards your partner.
6. Write down the pros & cons of your relationship.
- Do the pros outweigh the cons?
- Are the cons insignificant enough for you to live with?
- If not, are they things he’d be willing to work on?
If any of the cons are he or she hit you that’s a deal breaker. Leave him or her now. If he or she’s controlling or attacks your self-esteem that’s unacceptable too. Without help it will get worse.
Usually, the cons aren’t that obvious. If you can’t decide to stay or get out make an outline of your ideal partner. Be realistic. Don’t relate it to your current relationship just list what you’d like. Decide what traits are requirements and which ones are just desires. Then compare your partner to your list. If he or she doesn’t meet your requirements it’s time to let go. Never adjust your requirements to match your relationship. That’s settling.
Loving someone is never a good enough reason to stay if the relationship isn’t working. At a much younger age I hated the song lyrics “If you can’t be with the one you love honey, love the one you’re with.” I thought it was a waste of time to be with someone while you wanted someone else.
I now recognize the wisdom in those words. As a heartbreak coach I talk to so many jilted lovers who can’t let go of the person they think is the love of their life. It prevents them from finding happiness. Keep your thoughts in the present and don’t waste your time pining for someone you can’t have.
Learn more about creating a healthy relationship and enforcing healthy boundaries in my book Giving Up Junk-Food Relationships: Recipes for Healthy Choices.