How to increase peace and harmony with your romantic partner
When I fell in love with my husband, Kyle, he was a single dad with primary responsibility for three kids under 5. I was an energetic 20-something single woman who finally felt like she had her sh** together, living in a big city, managing a preschool, getting my master’s degree, and responsible only for my pet cat). And I freaked out about becoming a wife and a mother figure to three young kids.
When people see how close Kyle and I are, they’re often surprised to hear there was a time I called off our relationship out of fear.
Of course, it didn’t take me long to realize I didn’t want to imagine life without him and his kids. So, hand-in-hand, we jumped into the next chapter of our lives. This included a move to a city where I didn’t know a soul, starting a business together, and adding a fourth child to our family.
We’ve handled family traumas, crises with our children, and blended family drama in the last decade. We run a business together. We play together. He’s still my favorite human.
We’re often told our relationship is a role model for what others seek in theirs. So, below are some attributes that make our relationship one we both want to show up for daily.
Ten Relationship Tips for Calm
It can be challenging to prioritize your romantic relationship as a parent. But if you apply even one of these concepts, you’ll see less bickering and resentment and more joy. These mindful concepts keep us close (and calm) as a couple.
1. Put your ego aside. When your partner brings up an issue they’re not happy with (even gently), it’s natural for your ego to kick in to defend itself and spin the situation into how you are in the right. Taking accountability in a stressful moment is challenging but necessary, especially if you genuinely care about your partner’s feelings and don’t intend to hurt them. When you tell your ego to go away and listen with curiosity, you’ll avoid adding fuel to an already heated situation.
You ask your partner, “Hey, can you take out the garbage tonight? It’s pickup tomorrow.” They nod.
The following day, you wake up to an overflowing can.
“The garbage is everywhere. Why didn’t you take it out? It stresses me out to start a day in a pile of trash,” You say.
“Well, you didn’t empty the dishwasher or move the laundry yesterday,” they say back defensively, getting tripped up by their ego.
Instead of continuing this endless back-and-forth of accusations and justifications, watch how quickly an argument dissipates when you leave your ego behind and say:
“You’re right; I didn’t. I’ll add a reminder to make sure it gets done in the future. So, can you please take out the trash before you leave?”
2. Know your partner’s love language…and use it. Realize that how you give and receive love doesn’t always match how your partner does. Knowing your partner’s love language increases calm since you can interpret each other’s intentions more easily.
At the end of the evening, sometimes Kyle will sit next to me on the couch and rub my back. Even if I’m all “touched-out” after a day with kids, knowing that touch is one of his primary love languages helps me see this as a sign of his affection and love toward me rather than him needing something from me.
3. Treat your partner as a newly evolved person every day. Your partner is changing and growing, just like your kids and you are. Just because they reacted a certain way to a situation before doesn’t automatically mean they’ll react that way again. Letting go of thinking the past must always equal the future will make your relationship calmer.
Let’s go back to the garbage. Your partner neglected to take out the trash, and when you brought it up before, they got defensive and snapped at you. If the situation happens again, don’t avoid it. Give your partner a chance to react differently. Maybe they’re in a better frame of mind today or have just read an article like the one you’re reading now and are working on being a better communicator.
4. Prioritize “Us” over “Me.” When working through situations, think about your relationship as a collective unit. Prioritize what works best for your team and not just for you as an individual.
Your partner is irritated you’re getting time alone with friends this weekend while they’re home with the kids.
“How nice for you, you get to do whatever you want. I’m stuck here in diapers and tantrums,” they say, jealous and resentful.
Instead of digging your heels in and defending yourself by saying you earned that time or martyring yourself and canceling your trip out of guilt, respond by saying,
“I know being alone with the kids for long stretches is tough, and I appreciate the time away. What would fill your cup this week? Let’s plan for that.”
5. Practice the right kind of listening. Sometimes, people want to be heard. Other times, they want advice. There’s more calm in a relationship and less misunderstanding when you know what your partner seeks from you in a conversation.
Sometimes, when Kyle finishes his work day and emerges from his office, he can’t help but start venting immediately about his day. I’ll pause and say, “I’d love to hear about this. How do you want me to listen right now? Do you want me to just hold space for you? Or help you come up with ways to solve the issue?”
6. Read the room. Be aware of your partner’s state of mind before bringing up an issue. If your partner is visibly stressed, let them calm down first for the highest chances of being heard and a productive conversation.
Remember the garbage spilling all over the kitchen because your partner didn’t take it out? Don’t bring this up when your partner is already agitated or overwhelmed, or you’ll get a response like, “I can’t do anything right!” which doesn’t aid in calm or help the situation.
7. Validate and be empathetic with your partner. Research shows a huge way to prevent stress in a romantic relationship is to see each other’s point of view and be empathetic.
One night, Kyle was up late talking to one of our kids about an upsetting situation at school, leading him to sleep later than usual. This forced me to take the kids to school when it wasn’t my turn. Instead of expressing frustration and anger over this upheaval in my schedule, I tried to understand how tired and overwhelmed he was and offered to help him get to bed early that night. This kind of goodwill will come back to help you when you’re in a similar situation.
8. Encourage your partner’s self-care. Each person must be on top of their self-care for a calm relationship. When they feel their best, they can show up the best for you.
Instead of feeling resentful that your partner has a guy’s night out and regularly works out at the gym, give your self-care the same priority they give theirs. If needed, talk to your partner to come up with a plan that will allow your family schedule to include having your self-care needs met.
9. Don’t keep score. It’s not healthy to be “tit for tat” and count the number of chores one does versus the other.
Before you go to bed, you ask your partner, “Could you empty the dishwasher tonight?”
“I’ve done so many chores today already; I’d rather do it in the morning,” they reply.
Instead of getting annoyed and starting to list all the chores you do for everyone or being a martyr and doing it yourself, explain why you’d love it to be done at that time.
“If possible, I’d rather you do it tonight because, in the morning, I’ll have to empty it so I can fill it with dishes from breakfast.”
If you truly feel an imbalance in your relationship, have a “roles and responsibilities” meeting, using the guidance in the chapter “Communication” in my book, Chaos to Calm.
10. Connect regularly. Just like you might do with your team at work to gauge how they’re doing and provide feedback, regular check-ins with your partner are essential. Having various touch points throughout a day and week provides a healthy cadence to connect with your partner and creates calm, knowing you’re aware of what’s happening in each other’s days.
Kyle and I meet weekly to review family operations, check what kind of support we may need that week, how we can best show up for each other, and discuss upcoming events and other plans. I have a document I update throughout the week to remember what to discuss and track our past meeting topics and decisions.
Bonus: Have fun with your partner! Laughter and shared fun experiences enhance your bond and make you forget the little stuff you might sweat about during the regular home routines.
For more communication tips and a free “Roles and Responsibilities for Couples” downloadable, grab my book, Chaos to Calm. And if you need help getting more balance in your home and calm in your romantic partnership, I’m here for you!
Reach out, I’m here for you.