If you are a good breadwinner, a good planner, a good cook—whatever your role in your relationship is—it doesn’t necessarily mean you are a good partner. Those things are only one aspect of your relationship. Being a good partner requires more. It takes time and effort, but it’s worth the investment. You can reap one of the greatest rewards in life—a beautiful relationship.

Check in. You would not drive your car for years without a check up and an oil change. Same with your relationship. Check in with your partner from time to time. Set aside time just for this purpose. You may ask, How am I doing as your partner? What do you need from me? How can I do a better job? Keep your relationship tuned up regularly.

Notice any imbalance. It may be that you hate to cook, and never do it. And your partner hates to clean up, so you always do it. If that’s how you both like it, great. But what if she cooks and cleans and does the bathrooms too? What if you always have to be the strong one and pull her through every crisis? What if your relationship has become lopsided and one of you is carrying much more of a load than the other? Time to make adjustments.

Keep yourself up. Nobody likes bait and switch advertising. That’s when you dangle something great in front of someone and then when they buy it, you change the merchandise. Like you worked out and were fit, and now you’ve let yourself go. Or you used to take care to dress impeccably, but have gotten a little lazy about doing your laundry or keeping up with the styles. Your partner once found you alluring—don’t lose that feeling.

Never assume. Of course you love her. You’ve been together for years. And of course she knows how you feel. You tell her you love her all the time. At the end of every phone conversation. Mechanically. But she really doesn’t know what’s on your mind. It’s time to find a more meaningful way to tell her how you feel. How you love the sound of her laugh. How you feel lucky every day to have her in your life. How nice it is to cuddle in the mornings. You get the idea.

Maintain focus. You made the decision to be with this person. So be with her. Not with your iPhone, not with your Facebook friends. With her. Focus your attention on what she’s saying. Don’t let your monkey mind jump ahead of her. Take a breath. Slow down and really listen to how idiotic her boss is. Don’t cut her off with a story about your boss. Don’t offer a solution before she’s asked you for one. Just listen, empathetically.

Be polite. Don’t let familiarity breed contempt. Treat your partner at least as well as you’d treat someone at work. “Please” and “thank you” are always correct and a nice acknowledgement of a large or small effort your partner makes. When he brings in the mail, feeds the dog, changes the light bulb in the kitchen—remember. He didn’t have to. And you can at least give him a verbal nod of appreciation.

Next week I’ll talk about more ways to be a good partner.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional.  If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch.  You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.