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4 Reasons Your Relationship Issues are a “You” Problem

An honest look can help you be a better version of yourself.

When I was in college, one of my favorite shows to watch was The Late, Late Show with David Letterman. He was known to have funny skits as well as the famous Top 10 list. 

You’re probably wondering why I’m taking this stroll down memory lane.

Well, you’re probably reading this because you have had issues in multiple relationships with friends, family, work, and dating. Let’s be real: those issues affect us all, but they can be frustrating and downright hard. Personally, you may be wondering some things like:

  • Why do friends and family keep ghosting me? 
  • Why can’t I seem to get along with anyone at my job?
  • How do I get others to see that my way actually works better than theirs most of the time?
  • Do I want to have all the control in my relationships?

There’s no easy way to say this, and it may be a painful thing to even think about, but…

The answer may be that your relationship issues are a “you” problem. 

Self-examination is not always easy, and it rarely feels good, but it’s so worth it! With that in mind, here are 4 reasons which might signal that relationship issues are a “you” problem. (Look at this as my version of David Letterman’s Top 10, except there’s only 4.)

1. It’s never your fault.

When you don’t take or acknowledge any responsibility for problems in your life, that’s the epitome of a “you” problem. The blame can’t be and isn’t always on everyone else. People make mistakes and missteps, including you. Accountability and self-awareness are keys to effectively process how you impact your life and the lives of others around you. The good news: you can grow in this area.

2. You lack self-awareness.

Take some time to think about your past relationships. Look for patterns and tendencies, not of past partners, but YOUR OWN. Were you critical? Did you always have to be right? Did you listen? It’s essential to examine your behavior in the relationship. In taking an honest look at yourself, you may find some things that you don’t like to see or that you were unaware you did. The good news: others can help you see any blind spots you may have if you’re willing to find out.

3. You notice similar negative patterns.

Maybe you have become comfortable with the way things go in your life. You get takeout from your favorite restaurants and get your clothes from your favorite stores. We also have patterns in our relationships. You may have met your former significant others in similar ways. When you look back at your previous relationships and recognize many unhealthy issues and commonalities between them, that may be a “you” problem. The good news: you can step out of your comfort zone and make positive changes.

4. It’s your way or the highway.

It’s normal to want to have some say over what happens in your life. Or to be concerned about what happens in the lives of those you care about. It’s another thing altogether to consciously or unconsciously believe that the people in your life should automatically defer to you about the desires in their lives. It can be a “you” problem when people move out or are moved out of your life because they don’t respond in the way you would like. The good news: listening to others and respecting them even if you disagree goes a long way. The only person you can control is you!

When problems arise in your life, it’s essential to look at the person in the mirror. This is not to say that everything is a “you” problem. But, you do contribute to the problem. We all do! Being open to changing, growing, or adapting as needed is a significant first step toward correcting “you” problems. 

Growing isn’t meant to stop you from being you, but to help you be a better version of yourself. Once you are a better “you,” then forming meaningful relationships becomes easier. Healthy relationships often involve growing pains, but they are worth the effort, and so are you!

Other helpful resources:

4 Ways Having a Routine Contributes to a Happy, Healthy Family

Developing a framework can allow your family to prioritize what you value.

Every time I stand in line at the grocery store, I look at the magazines near the register. I often pick up one that has a headline about being organized on its cover. As someone who is not naturally organized, I’ve worked hard to understand the importance of being organized and having routines or schedules. Learning to juggle my family’s many plans has helped me embrace the need for routines. I’ve even found routines help our family be less stressed. If there’s one thing I need less of, it’s stress. Can you relate?

Through trial and error, I realized that routines provide a structured framework for my family (even for someone not naturally organized). The habits and plans you create for your family should be based on what works best for you. As a result, your routines will look different from other families, and that’s perfectly normal. 

When building your routine, allow for flexibility and adaptability over time. For example, your work schedule or your kids’ activities may change, so things will look different for each family. And you’ll probably have to adapt over time.

Here are a few ways that having a routine contributes to a happy, healthy family. Routines…

1. Provide a flow for the day. 

Your children learn what’s coming next. They begin to look forward to activities such as helping with dinner, storytime, or quiet time.

2. Create space for intentional family time. 

You may have movie night or family game night. One night of the week becomes breakfast for dinner night. 

3. Foster brain development in your children. 

Children can recognize signals for what’s happening next. When the lights are turned low, your child sees that the bedtime routine is beginning. When you walk to the bookshelf, they recognize storytime is starting, and they go to your “reading chair.”

4. Promote social and emotional development in kids. 

Children learn how to clothe themselves, brush their teeth, and clean up after themselves once routines are established. (Hello, independence!)

If you’re ready to create (or redo) a routine that works for your family, consider these things: 

Times that naturally lend themselves to routines.

There are specific times in the day that make having a routine more manageable. Routines around bedtime, storytime, playtime, dinner, or the mornings are a great place to start. Make it as simple as possible, with only a few steps. 

Things you can remove from your routine.

In creating the routine that works best, take a look at what you may need to remove from your schedule. When you write down your activities in order of importance, it will help you decide what no longer fits your plan.

It’s a work in progress.

Your routine may be ever-changing because your children continue to change and grow. The routine you create may work for a while but be open to tweaking it when you need to.

Having a routine doesn’t mean you need to fill all the time slots or that you’ll be the most organized family on the block. The intent is to provide a framework that allows your family to be healthy and happy, and to prioritize what you value. You may love quality family time, reading, or play. If so, build those things into your routine. But remember that your plans don’t have to be written in stone and followed like the law; routines are meant to serve you — not the other way around. 

Other helpful blogs:

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Is Stress Killing Your Relationship?

Find ways to manage stress before it does major relationship damage.

Are you overwhelmed with deadlines at work, kids in school, the weekly to-do list, health concerns, drama on social media? Is stress taking a toll on your relationship? Do you find yourself taking out your stress on your significant other? If so, you’re not alone. 

Stress, handled wrongly, hurts relationships. It’s a reality. Often it’s the small stressors that build up and do damage. 

We all face daily stresses. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could use a magic wand and remove all the stress in our lives? The reality is we have to learn to manage stress, not let stress manage us.

Here’s how to tell if stress is impacting your relationship:

Stressed out people are more withdrawn. 

When you’re stressed, you may pull away from those you love or be less affectionate. Maybe you’re working longer hours, spending more time alone, or camping out in front of the TV as a way of escaping all you have to deal with. Isolating yourself can damage your relationship.

Stressed out people see the worst in others. 

When we’re stressed, it’s easy to allow the small things to overwhelm us. A minor thing your spouse does, like not picking up their shoes, suddenly becomes a sign of disrespect and a lack of appreciation. Maybe they just forgot their shoes. But stress is blurring your vision and you see them doing it out of spite.

Stress leads to exhaustion. 

Not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. Whether the tension stems from work, kids, or our calendars, it bleeds over into all aspects of our lives. Have you ever noticed that when you’re mentally exhausted, you just want to sleep? Stress takes a toll on our bodies. This can leave our spouse (and others) feeling neglected.

Stress makes us irritable. 

Who wants to be around grumpy people? The longer the stress lasts, the crankier you get. This can lead to arguments and hurtful words. 

[How Not to Blow Up On Your Kids When You’re Stressed Out: The Timeout is a great read if you’ve got kids]

Stress causes us to put other things in front of our relationship. 

Technology is a fabulous tool but can also be a source of stress. Endless work texts or emails can interrupt time with your spouse. When we are stressed due to work or other obligations, it becomes easy to prioritize those above our relationship.

So, if you find yourself resonating with these common signs of stress…

Make a plan…when you aren’t stressed out. 

If both of you are in a place of little stress, plan how you will deal with stress once it increases. Help to identify each other’s stressors and stress patterns. Look for ways to reduce stressors before they take over.

Reduce your stress. 

You can’t help your spouse if you can’t help yourself, so identify what reduces your stress. When I feel overwhelmed, I like to go for a run. It’s time to decompress, soak in the fresh air, and clear my mind. Maybe it’s exercise, music, or getting in nature. Communicate to your spouse what you need to do to reduce stress. Make sure you both have time to de-stress and refresh. (Read How Couples Can Help Each Other De-Stress and Improve Their Relationship)

Prioritize your relationship. 

You’re a team! Commit to each other and to ensuring that stress will not take over your relationship. Dr. Michael Mantell, an Advanced Behavior Coach, puts it this way: “Help each other remember you cannot control the uncontrollable, to always look for victory not defeat, to agree to set aside time to talk and be each other’s defense attorney, not prosecutor.”

Ask for help. 

Your partner can’t provide for all your needs. Putting that expectation on each other isn’t healthy. Sometimes we need help, whether that’s a trusted friend or a therapist. Don’t be afraid to seek help. Protecting your relationship must be the priority. 

Stress is a reality. You can’t make it go away, but you can manage stress so that it doesn’t kill your relationship. What will you do today to reduce stress in your life?

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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We’re Living With Our In-Laws and It’s Destroying Our Marriage

Here are a few reasons you might feel this way—and what you can do about it.

Maybe when you started living with your in-laws, you didn’t think it would be all that bad. After all, they raised your spouse. But now, living with them feels like it’s destroying your marriage. 

Criticism. Judgment. Parenting critiques. Lack of boundaries. Arguments. Living with them seems to be impacting your marriage—not for better, but for worse. How’d this happen? Can’t we all just get along? 

I’ve been there, done that, got the T-shirt, lived to tell about it. (Full disclosure: We lived with MY family, so I know what it’s like from my wife’s perspective, too!) 

Maybe finances, illness, or some other reason led to your living situation. Regardless, it’s hard to foresee all that can arise when you and your in-laws live under the same roof. But why is it so hard and what can you do about it? 

Maybe you feel like living with your in-laws is destroying your marriage because…

1. You haven’t been clear about your expectations.

We’ve all done it. You decide to do something. Then you begin to imagine how it should go—how you’ll deal with food and groceries, parenting and finances. You may even think about how much you and your in-laws will help each other. But you never talked it out with your spouse or the in-laws. And it isn’t going how you expected. You’re disappointed, frustrated, and full of resentment.

Well, guess what? You have expectations. Your spouse has expectations. So do your in-laws.

ACTION STEP: Rewind the tape. Lay out your expectations. HEAR their expectations. 

You may want the same things but have totally different ways of getting there. Whether your living arrangement is temporary or not, a plan will help to keep you from being discontented about your situation.

2. You haven’t talked about boundaries, OR your boundaries aren’t being respected.

And that can be a massive part of what’s going on in your marriage. In-laws can totally obliterate bedtime schedules, eating habits, structure, and order in the home. Or maybe they want too much input into your parenting decisions and how you do your marriage. When you don’t feel like someone respects your boundaries or keeps finding fault with you, it can feel like a fire is burning inside.

ACTION STEP: Set boundaries as a couple and stick to them. Household upkeep, eating habits, and house guests (among other things) are all potential points of irritation. Having clear boundaries sets a culture of respect for everyone in the house.

3. You need privacy.

All married couples need time alone to talk and… you know. Sometimes it’s hard to see that the lack of it is keeping you from connecting. Make sure your spouse knows you need some private time together and talk about ways to make that happen. (A hotel room may be in order…)

ACTION STEP: Talk to the in-laws about it, but keep this in mind: it’s best for the spouse to talk to their parents about these issues. It just is. Trust me.

Most people can think of a time where they needed some alone time. Appeal to their own need to discuss how to get yours as a couple. 

4. You’re dealing with a case of role confusion.

Are your in-laws taking their parenting roles too far with your spouse or your kids? Are your kids confused about who’s in charge? Has your mate become a part-time child? It’s crazy how easy it is for an adult to change when they’re around their parents. There may be some things that bothered you before that are magnified now. This is an excellent opportunity for growth.

ACTION STEP: Lovingly address the issue with your spouse. Give specific examples where you see actions or decisions that have impacted your marriage. Get some help from a marriage counselor if you need it.

It’s tough when you feel like living with your in-laws is destroying your marriage, but remember, YOU ARE A TEAM. Turn toward your marriage. Not every issue will be solved. Some tension will just need to be managed. 

  • Teams stick together and grow through adversity. 
  • Teams see a challenge and plan for the best way to overcome the obstacles. (Just remember the obstacles aren’t necessarily the in-laws. Hopefully, they aren’t the opponents.) 

Making sure you and your spouse are on one page about how you’re doing marriage and family is vital. The security of being on one page will help you talk through your problems with the in-laws. And even if you don’t see eye-to-eye, your marriage will grow stronger because you’re together.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

A new year brings new opportunities, new goals, and a fresh start. As we enter a new year, many are making resolutions with a desire to improve something. According to a survey by Finder, 45% of Americans will make a health-related New Year’s resolution

So, as I sat down to write, I thought about some things: what was most pressing for me last year, becoming a runner, and what I’m looking forward to. The pandemic showed me that I need to focus on the health of my marriage as much as I do on my physical health. As I reflected on my journey, I found that the road to success in one area also applies to the other. 

As you set your goals, do you have one to help you make sure your relationship is fit?

Every achievable goal needs a plan. Here are 5 ways to keep your relationship fit:

1. Practice self-awareness on a regular basis.

You don’t know where you need to go if you don’t know where you are. As you embark on a journey of relationship fitness, start by evaluating your current relationships. Take an inventory of how healthy you are in this area of your life. How do you communicate with each other? Do you handle conflict well? How do you express needs and desires? These are just a few areas to evaluate. Be objective and honest. A realistic starting point helps you reach the finish line.

2. Set realistic expectations and goals.

Once you’re aware of your relationship’s current state, it’s time to set some realistic goals and expectations. We often drop New Year’s resolutions because the goal is too broad and the expectations are unrealistic. If you want to run but have never run before, it’s not the best idea to set a goal to run a marathon in your first year. The same goes for your relationship goals. Set achievable, measurable and realistic goals. Maybe you want to spend more quality time with your spouse. A goal of two date nights per month is a lot more doable than a couple’s seven-day, all-inclusive getaway.

3. Make a plan to increase your opportunity for success.

You may have heard it said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” That statement rings true in every aspect of your life because you can’t haphazardly achieve your goals. You must plan. Let’s talk about the goal of two date nights per month. Put it on the calendar. If you have kids, book a babysitter. If you have a babysitter you love, book them for the next 12 months so you aren’t scrambling month to month. Taking time to plan helps you reach your goal.

4. Find an accountability partner.

It’s tough to achieve goals on your own without accountability. You and your partner should hold each other accountable for shared goals, but it’s not a bad idea to enlist another couple to help in this area. Share with someone who will push you to achieve success. 

5. Access tools to assist in your fitness.

Just as a runner invests in shoes and a cyclist invests in bikes, you have to invest in your relationship to ensure proper fitness. Look for tools to help you on your journey. This could be a mentor couple, books, classes, blogs, and social media accounts. It may take some time to ensure you’re getting useful information, but a healthier relationship is worth the investment. (HOW TO FIND GOOD RELATIONSHIP ADVICE can help you out!)

As you embark on your goals, I wish you the best. I challenge you to focus on keeping your relationship fit. Investing in your relationship benefits the two of you and generations to come. Plus, taking time to make your relationship healthier will increase your happiness and strengthen your community. Imagine the good that will come to us all if we take a little time to focus on not just “me” but “we.”

We throw the words compromise and sacrifice around quite a bit in relationships. But what exactly do they mean? And don’t they mean the same thing? 

Well, the short answer is, not exactly. It’s complicated, kind of like relationships are sometimes. Read on to see what I mean.

Both sacrifice and compromise require someone to lose or give something up, but in two very different ways. 

Compromise involves people meeting in the middle to solve a problem. Each person gives in a little… or a lot. Here’s a simple example: one person wants to meet for coffee at 11:00, while the other prefers 11:30. They meet in the middle and decide on 11:15. Each person gave up 15 minutes; problem solved.

Sacrifice is different, though. It requires one person to meet another where they are. They give up something to accommodate the other person regardless of whether they respond or give back. Another simple example: one person can only meet at 11:00 for coffee. Rather than reschedule, the other person gives up a prior engagement to meet with this person. 

Compromise is a team effort toward a common goal, resolving conflict or disagreement. It’s mutual by its very nature. Everyone involved must give up something for it to be called compromise. A compromise works out differences.  

A sacrifice is a solo act done to strengthen the bond between two people. One person gives something up for the relationship; the other person doesn’t necessarily have to, although relationships generally thrive when sacrifice is mutual. Sacrifice seals commitment. 

The nature of sacrifice and compromise gets hairier when you consider different levels and depths of relationships. 

Here’s what I mean. 

Compromising on a coffee time with a co-worker is one thing. Settling with your spouse on how to raise your kids, save money, or where you’ll spend the holidays is a totally different ballgame. Deeper relationships call for deeper considerations.

Perhaps not so much with sacrifice. Giving up a career, living in a particular city, or spending a lot of time with other people is considered good in some relationships, but downright crazy in others.  

**Compromise happens in all healthy relationships to some degree. Sacrifice is probably more appropriate for long-term, committed relationships. And problems can occur when we get those two concepts mixed up.**

As a matter of fact, it’s possible to sacrifice for the wrong reason. An interesting piece of research found that when one romantic partner gave something up for the good of the relationship, both partners had higher than average relationship satisfaction

On the flipside, both partners felt less satisfied in their relationship when a partner gave something up to avoid guilt or hurt feelings. 

Did you catch that? The same behavior—sacrificing for one’s partner—had opposite effects depending on the motive behind it. Your reason for sacrifice makes a difference. 

What can we take away from these ideas? 

  • Disagreements happen. Compromise can help solve problems and keep relationships healthy. 
  • Sacrifice isn’t always the best option, like maybe in a new dating relationship. It can even be harmful. But when it is appropriate (think marriage), both people benefit from it. 
  • Compromise costs, but it’s typically refundable. If a compromise doesn’t work, you can usually step back and try something else.
  • Sacrifice is also costly, but it usually has a no-return policy. It’s risky. And it shouldn’t be done recklessly. 
  • Carefully weigh your relationship’s depth and outlook (and the issue you need to solve) before sacrificing or compromising. 

Some say compromise is the foundation of a relationship. Others say throw compromise out the window and selflessly sacrifice. 

I say there’s a time and a place for each: compromise freely and sacrifice wisely

Related blogs:

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

How gritty are you? 

Is your marriage gritty

Do you teach your kids to be gritty

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Harvard-trained psychologist and researcher Angela Duckworth examines what it takes to stick things out and accomplish long-term goals. 

Grit has everything to do with how we do family relationships. 

Don’t mistake grit with talent (which Duckworth describes as the rate at which a person improves a skill). Grit isn’t how intensely you want something. Instead, grit is an attitude. It is a relentless, determined work ethic—despite setbacks, defeats, and hard days

It’s a “never-give-up” attitude.

Who do you know that is truly gritty? Grit is what drove Thomas Edison to succeed as an inventor. As a boy, teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” Edison was  fired from his first two jobs for being “unproductive.” He reportedly experienced 1,000 failed attempts before successfully inventing the lightbulb. (Edison reported that, rather than failing 1,000 times, the lightbulb was an invention with 1,000 steps. Now that’s grit.)  

Great things are achievable in ordinary people through gritty determination.

Duckworth quotes sociologist Dan Chambliss, “…the main thing is greatness is doable. Greatness is many, many individual feats, and each of them is doable.

Grit is more than just a trait for inventors, athletes, or business leaders; grit is a significant family value. 

Duckworth’s research points to a high correlation between grit and marital longevity. People with a gritty determination have a can-do attitude toward building a healthy, strong marriage—despite struggles, conflict, and tension. Gritty couples say, “No matter what we have to do, we’re going to make this work. We’re committed to this marriage.”  [Note: There are some situations in marriage that are unhealthy and unsafe. “Grit” is NOT enduring a dangerous relationship. See the note at the bottom of the article.]

For parents, the nagging question is, how do you teach grit to your children? Duckworth offers some great answers. 

First, grit is best taught with a balanced parenting style. In other words, parents who connect through affection and encouragement, while also creating structure and appropriate expectations, have a parenting style that fosters grit. 

It’s a balance between love and support with accountability and parental toughness.

Second, gritty kids want to take after gritty parents. Duckworth explains that “if you want to bring forth grit in your child, first ask how much passion and perseverance you have for your own life goals.” 

Third, Duckworth suggests that extracurricular activities are especially beneficial in developing grit in kids. An organized activity requiring a child to overcome challenges or criticism from peers, coaches, or teachers fosters grit. Bad days, lack of energy or motivation can help teach kids to push through and be gritty. 

Let’s get practical. Do hard things.

Duckworth shares a very practical strategy for developing grit in her teenage children called the “Hard Thing Rule.” There are three parts: 

  1. Everyone in the family, including the parents, has to do a Hard Thing. A “Hard Thing” is anything that requires deliberate practice. For a parent, in addition to the skills they use at work, it might be yoga, running, or completing a degree. For kids, it might be ballet, piano, or soccer. 
  2. You can quit your Hard Thing. But there’s a catch. You can’t quit until “your season is over, the tuition payment is up, or some other ‘natural’ stopping point has arrived.” In other words, you can’t quit on the day your coach yells at you, or you have to miss a party because you have practice. 
  3. You get to pick your Hard Thing. 

As a family and relationship educator, it makes me wonder: If grit was a more common character quality, would we see more successful marriages, healthier parenting styles, and overall relationship satisfaction? 

Perhaps it starts with you.

Maybe it means you are more intentional about pressing through your small, doable feats even when you’re not motivated. Maybe you model more grit for your family and lead by example. Perhaps this week, you and your family can pick your Hard Thing to practice. 

Don’t be afraid to get your hands gritty.

I’m convinced—and I hope you are, too—grit is a good thing and something we all can use in our family. 

Related: 

10 Things Healthy, Happy Families Do

How To Encourage A Growth Mindset In Kids

The Blessing Of The Skinned Knee

Got some gritty thoughts on grit? Share them in the comments below!


***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

I’ve read lots of relationship articles and books written by relationship experts giving me relationship advice. Tons of advice. And I’m the kind of person who wants to dive in headfirst and try everything at the same time, eager to improve the relationships with the people in my life. 

But when I sit down with the information to decide where I want to begin, my head starts swimming. The vast sea of tips and must-dos of relationships starts to run together and I can feel the wiring in my brain start to short-circuit. Overwhelmed is the feeling. There’s often so much information out there that it seems impossible to find a starting point to apply it. It’s paralyzing. 

Relationship resources like blogs, videos, and classes can have the same effect on everyone. Whether it’s marriage, parenting, friendships, or dating help you’re searching for, understanding how to use all the advice you’re hearing can be overwhelming. But this doesn’t have to be your experience. 

Here are five simple ideas to help you actually use relationship resources and still stay calm, cool, and unruffled: 

Start in the slow lane.

No need to dive headfirst into a long list of “50 marriage to-dos” or “28 ways to be a better parent.” Choose one thing, one step, you want to take to improve your relationship. And concentrate on that one thing. Pacing is everything. Trying to make too much change at once often results in no change. 

Begin with a step you feel drawn to with your relationship.

You know the context of the help you’re looking for and the nature of your relationship. Choose a piece of advice that speaks to where you want the most benefit. You want to follow a step that is both realistic and impactful to your relationship’s health. When you’ve found your groove with that one thing, move on to another area of your relationship you want to see become healthier. Consider tackling something a little deeper. 

Approach relationship advice like an experiment.

Look at it like you’re going to try a piece of advice out to make your relationship healthier. It doesn’t mean it’ll work. And it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t. Simply try it again, or try something different. (Again, couples, be sure you’re on the same page with this). Above all, be patient with yourself. Not all healthy relationship advice works in the same way for everyone. But something will work. Keep experimenting. Stay in the pocket. You’ll find your rhythm and what works best in your context. 

Know that taking a step toward healthier relationships can often be challenging and uncomfortable.

Whether it’s addressing conflict with your teenager, talking about intimacy with your spouse, or having that difficult conversation with a friend or co-worker, you sometimes have to take steps that don’t seem so fun. That in itself can be overwhelming. But keep the endgame in mind: taking these kinds of steps works toward a better relationship. The discomfort doesn’t last forever, and more often than not, going through those difficult steps actually pulls you and the other person closer together. Uncomfortable doesn’t have to feel overwhelming if you understand it’s for the better.  

Find a source of social support.

No one is wired to go through life alone. As a matter of fact, we are our best selves when we are surrounded by people who will love and support us, people who have been there in their own relationships, and have the scars to prove it. These are the ones who have experienced the ups and downs of raising kids (teenagers, no less) to be responsible adults. Who do you know who has crossed both the peaks and valleys in their many decades of marriage? Or who do you know who has lived through the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of the dating scene

These are people to lean on when improving your relationship using helpful resources. They can tell you what has worked (and not worked) for them. As you pull into the slow lane and choose that one thing you’re going to do, draw on their wisdom and experience to serve as a compass. 

Related: How To Know If Someone Is Trustworthy.

When you find good advice on relationships, it’s often overwhelming. But then you have to stop and remember one thing: your goal is simply to commit yourself to make each of your relationships stronger. And so all you need to do is make the simple decision to take one simple step in a given relationship: with your spouse, your kids, your friends, or anyone else in your life. That’s it. Sometimes it might not work out so well, but I’m willing to bet that most of the time you can make it happen. And that one step will make a tremendous impact on your relationship

Don’t let relationship advice and resources overwhelm you. Take it slow, choose one step, experiment with it, and lean on others who have been there. You’ll find that a healthier relationship is well within reach. 

Related: How To Find Good, Reliable Relationship Advice.