When you’re caught up in a new romance, the last thing you want to think about is having regrets. But ask any pair who has been partnered up for many years — or any recent divorcees — what their regrets are, and you’re sure to get an earful.
Learning what others wish they would have done differently may be the best relationship advice we could ever hope to receive. Here are nine big regrets we’ve learned (No. 6 is crucial for every kind of relationship).
1. They didn’t make their partner a priority
Married and divorced couples alike seemed to recall a time when they didn’t put their partners before friends, work, or other commitments. If you don’t make your other half a priority, your relationship will suffer the consequences.
Next: They stopped doing this.
2. They stopped dating
After awhile, couples tend to stop planning dates together, especially after careers and children have entered the picture. This is a colossal mistake, according to many former couples. It all ties back to making your partner a priority — the dates don’t have to be lavish, but spending time alone together to focus on your relationship is important.
Next: They thought this would happen.
3. They kept thinking the other person was going to change
While we should always be striving to be the best version of ourselves, if you stay in a relationship hoping your partner will change, that’s a mistake, say experts. If you marry an introvert, a shy person, or someone close to their family, you can’t expect them to change who they are.
Next: You need a life outside of marriage.
4. They didn’t have a life outside the marriage
Whether you stay married for life or end up divorced, having outside hobbies and interests is vital. If you stop seeing your friends, volunteering, or doing things that make you happy, you’ll end up feeling isolated even if your relationship itself is is fine.
Next: This isn’t a good look on anyone.
5. They were too jealous
A little jealousy in a relationship may be normal, but it can wreak serious havoc on your romance. Being needlessly jealous can stress you both out, and in fact, it can lead to someone being unfaithful or leaving. Deal with your jealousy now while you still can.
Next: A crucial ingredient for any relationship.
6. They didn’t communicate well enough
Licensed psychologist and clinical professional counselor says one of the top regrets her clients experience is that they wish they had learned to communicate better instead of hoping their partners would read their minds. Considering communication issues lead to the end of many relationships, that’s a huge eye-opener.
Next: Know when to fold’em.
7. They stayed in the wrong relationship for too long
People stay in bad marriage for all kinds of reasons, but staying too long only seems to lead to remorse. While it’s important to nurture your relationship and try to fix things if you can, it’s also important not to lose yourself in the process. And although it can be trickier to walk away from a marriage than a dating relationship, you should never ignore the signs your marriage is over.
Next: This is already a taboo topic, don’t make it worse.
8. They kept money secrets
If you have regular money meetings to discuss finances and you’re honest during them, this shouldn’t be an issue. But for one reason or another, many people report keeping a significant spending habit from their significant other. About 13 million consumers in the United States have kept a financial account hidden from their spouses, and about 20% of the population has spent $500 or more without telling their significant other.
“So many couples are hiding money or debt or charges and then the spouse finds out and its war in their marriage,” Perry Higgins told Forbes.
Whether you’re paying child support for offspring you never mentioned or you can’t get your spending habit under control, a committed relationship is no place to keep money secrets. If you or your spouse is hiding thousands of dollars, it might be wise to seek the help of a family finance professional, said Mary Claire Allvine, author of The Family CFO.
Next: They didn’t nurture these two important things.
9. They didn’t nurture fondness and admiration
You should maintain a sense of awe and admiration for your partner. Always try to find something to love about him or her. Look for ways to remind yourself why you fell in love.
“If a couple still have a functioning fondness and admiration system, their marriage is salvageable,” writes Psychologist John Gottman. “Fondness and admiration are two of the most critical elements in a rewarding and long-lasting romance … They cherish each other, which is critical to keeping their Sound Relationship House intact and preventing betrayal.”
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