The idealistic people among us might think that relationships should be pretty easy and straightforward.
You meet someone, you go on dates, you fall for each other and this leads to building a life together – marriage, a house, kids, the whole works.
But sometimes the path to love just doesn’t run this smoothly, there are issues, things can go stale and you might find yourself and your relationship stuck in a bit of a rut.
So if things aren’t going the way you’d hoped, what exactly do you do about it?
According to psychotherapist Esther Perel, who specialises in human relationships, you have to start with taking accountability for the problems in your marriage or relationship.
Essentially you have to remember these four words: It’s up to YOU.
In an interview for The Times with Gwyneth Paltrow, Perel advised the star to ask herself one question every day, and that was “What can I do to make things better?”
Instead of waiting for your partner to bring up an issue, or waiting to see how things will turn out, you need to take responsibility for what you feel and do what you can to make your relationship better, because ultimately the quality of your relationship can have a big impact on the quality of your life.
Start by thinking about what you want from your relationship and your partner, what are your expectations for them and ask yourself if they are realistic.
In turn, make sure you know what your partner’s expectations are for you and work out where you are both meeting these and where you are falling short of them.
On her website, Perel further explains: “How do we meet the expectations that we’ve set for ourselves and our relationships?
“We can stop thinking of love, desire and relationships as commodities. They are not. When a jacket doesn’t meet our expectations, we can easily purchase another one. The same is not true about relationships. We have to work to make our expectations come to reality, setting expectations is only the start.”
She adds: “The next step is to actually go about achieving them by investing the time, patience and space necessary with our partners.”