Amy Setzer, Legal Assistant
April is Couples Appreciation Month and in honor of the occasion we’ll be posting a series of blogs on what to do (or not) when it comes to healthy relationships. If you’re down in the dumps about your recent divorce, don’t fret. While these tips are geared towards romantic couples, the basic principles can apply to all kinds of relationships from family to friends, so it’s still worth the read. Besides, as hard as it might be to imagine, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Eventually you will move on, and these tips could give you a leg up on a fresh start with someone new.
Do nice things for each other.
When I’m having a hard day, my boyfriend always seems to know it. I get an instant smile when I hear my phone chirp. There’s always a cute text – sometimes a heart emoji or a little animated GIF, or an “I hope you have a good day babe.” It’s never a long message, just a little something to remind me he’s thinking about me and enough to make me glad I have someone to come home to. My phone is chock full of these warm fuzzies. And yes, I do return the favor.
It need not be a grand gesture. Making your partner happy is as simple as an “I love you!” note in a lunch bag, a smiley face post-it on the door, impulse buying their favorite candy bar at the store, or brushing the snow off their car. Some days you might want to step it up a little. You could take the trash out when it’s not your turn – maybe even without being asked. The point is that a tiny little bit of effort here and there can have a big impact. It lets your loved one know you care and that they’re in the forefront of your mind. It reminds you that someone out there loves you and is thinking of you. Most importantly it reminds you that you’re not alone, that you’re in this life together.
Don’t argue in public.
Having a healthy relationship involves developing mutual trust and respect. You’re going to bicker. You’re going to fight. You’ll probably want to throat punch your significant other at some point in time. As mad as you might get at your sweetie, it’s important for both of you to know you have each other’s backs no matter what. Airing your dirty laundry and making a spectacle of your relationship in front of half the city’s population is not the way to let your special someone know they can trust you to defend them. It could embarrass your partner and make them feel they have to walk on eggshells around you for fear of a PDA (public display of aggression). When you see a couple finger waving at the next table, do you think, “Gee those two are really in love?” I’m not saying you have to swallow your feelings or that the opinions of strangers matter. I’m saying save the arguing for home and you’ll show your partner you think enough of them to show a united front and you’re willing to work through differences in a reasonable, rational manner.
Part of the healing process after The Big Split is self-reflection. If you see yourself in any the no-nos in this series, don’t worry. You can use these suggestions to turn over a new leaf, so be sure to tune in for Part 2.