Your Romantic Relationship: To Keep It Great, Keep It Clean.

image by United Nations from

Too often in our romantic relationships, we let petty grievances remain tucked in the back of our minds. We allow resentment to build over time. We feel frustrated with our partner but stay silent over and over. We experience disappointment or anger at something our partner does and then hold onto it, continuing to think about it, feel upset by it, and bringing it up countless times with them, well into the future.

All of this dirties your relationships. It mucks up the waters. It adds a toxic layer of sludge to your connection with this person over time, and to the aura of the relationship. Eventually, the dark cloud of bitterness will take over and engulf the relationship. This is likely to include and lead to, what relationship experts John and Julie Gottman call, The Four Horseman. These pave the way toward the eventual death of a relationship. They are: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.

If you want to maintain a joyous relationship, one that feels healthy and good, keep it clean.

What does this mean?

Well, everyone is going to, at times, feel anger, disappointment, or frustration with their partner. There will be moments in our intimate relationships when our love hurts us unintentionally. This is part of close relationships with others. However, the key is to handle it at the moment, as opposed to sitting with and stuffing it.

Do not just swallow your sadness, frustration, anger, or disappointment.

Instead, speak with your partner about it, in a way that is not nasty or dramatic. Let them know, “what you did just hurt me,” or, “I feel angered by this situation. It’s upsetting to me.” Confide in them, “I was disappointed when this happened,” or “it frustrates me when you do this.”

The point, though, is to get it out on the table. Air that stuff out. Say it. Do not sit with it, over and over, which often leads to the issue brewing and curdling inside of you as it ages like a not-so-fine wine.

If it’s something minor and is not likely to be a significant issue which will upset you later on, maybe just let it go. We need not air every single grievance and always be speaking up on each occasion that we feel annoyed. That can create problems where there are not any, and it can lead to an aura in the relationship of negativity and walking on eggshells.

So, there is something to be said, both in relationships and in life, of picking your battles.

But. As a general rule, if your partner does something that hurts, disappoints, or angers you, tell them. Speak about it. Clear the air. Do not allow these things to sit, stewing inside you, and contaminating the air of the relationship over time. Deal with them at the moment instead. Work through them now. And then let them go.

(This can also be applied to good friendships and family relations).

Keep your relationship clean to preserve its health, joy, and long-term potential. This requires emotional maturity and bravery, to speak up and address things with your partner, even if they are uncomfortable doing so, when needed and when the time has arisen. It requires patience as well, from both parties. Being able to make time to listen and speak with one another in these crucial moments. Do not let anger and resentment over things build up while you say nothing. This is, over time, likely to ruin your romantic relationship.

To keep things great, keep them clean.

Fervent writer. Ravenous reader. Impassioned with words. Relationship researcher. Social Scientist. Social Justice Advocate. Author.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store