Enjoy More, Maintain Less

With the emphasis on home and garden this month, it's easy to feel as though you spend more time maintaining your home than enjoying it, right? And chances are you've also felt that way about your relationship. The words — muttered or screamed — go something like, "My God, can't we be civil long enough to enjoy one measly weekend?"

Therein lies the problem! When you can't get along, anger and resentment are brewing, just waiting to boil over. So, you find yourself either boiling over or trying to keep a lid on it. Not fun! And although you are not actually doing anything to maintain the relationship, what you are doing is draining. You feel spent, with nothing to show for it.

You've probably used plenty of Saturdays, albeit with better results, to spruce up the house, mow the yard, plant flowers — or at least lined up somebody else to do it all? Well, taking care of your relationship also requires time; and you can't delegate it! You have to get involved in the details and follow through, not simply endure the agony of what's gone awry. It's work.

While doing it may not seem like fun; not doing it is even less fun. So, you might want to start now ... and let spring's renewal buoy you.

How, exactly, do you maintain your relationship, though? First, you and your partner have to be willing. The alternative is to let the relationship die; and even if you choose that option, why choose a miserable death? Feeling up to the task ... or at least willing to take the next step?

Now, assess what you have. You can only start where you are; so, where are you? If you were to meet your current sweetheart for the first time today, what gaps would you have to fill to make this the relationship of your dreams? Don't get stuck in an old dream, though. What's important to you now?

Next, communicate who you are and what you want from a relationship, while listening very carefully to who he is and what he wants. Feeling less overwhelmed? Facing the truth liberates you; it's keeping the truth in the dark that can scare you to death.

Now you can explore compatibility and work towards more of it, with full knowledge that just going through the motions and basing a relationship on a lie doesn't work. Make a list of what you have in common AND make a list of differences. You might find that some of your favorite things about each other are the ones that make you different. Think penis.

Appreciate the differences as well as the similarities. Instead of resenting his free spirit, for example, let it complement your structure. Accept his outgoing personality and let him be your teacher. Think of him as a resource, rather than compete with him or try to make him wrong. You're on the same team.

When you put yourself out there and ask for his help, you'll find he's more receptive to your "help." Maybe you've been trying (too hard) to help him change. Accept him the way he is, while you let him show you how to get out of your comfort zone ... and he'll let you help him out of his. It's magic. Well, almost.

Something amazing happens when you simply get to know and love somebody for who he is. You offer him a safe place to be his best self, which also means being the best partner he can be.

You see ... as love would have it, enjoying a relationship goes a long way toward maintaining it! And when you enjoy something, you're much more motivated to do the hard work — when it is necessary — of maintaining it.

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Author's Bio: 

Jan Denise is a self-esteem and relationships consultant, the author of Innately Good: Dispelling the Myth That You’re Not (Health Communications) and Naked Relationships: Sharing Your Authentic Self to Find the Partner of Your Dreams (Hampton Roads), and the columnist who penned the nationally syndicated “Inside Relationships” for ten years. Denise conducts workshops, speaks professionally, serves on the faculty of Omega Institute, and consults with individuals and couples nationwide. She is silly and deeply in love with life and her husband Sam Ferguson. They live in McIntosh, Florida, where their home in the woods is open to others as a sanctuary and retreat center.