“Where do your priorities lie in this relationship?” You’ve probably heard this in one of those romcoms that seem to be filled with miscommunication between the partners. One thing they do get right, however, is the importance of priorities in a relationship. You don’t want to jump into a relationship only to realize that a sports match is more important to your partner than you.
To make sure you don’t keep hearing how your priorities aren’t in order in every fight, consultant psychologist Jaseena Backer (MS Psychology), a gender and relationship management expert, is here to offer a lowdown on what relationship priorities should look like.
How Do You Set Priorities In A Relationship?
Setting priorities in your relationship is largely about how well you can communicate in your relationship. Jaseena says, “The most important thing in a relationship is making your partner a priority. Setting priorities right might fix a broken relationship as well.” Here are a few tips she suggests:
- Communicate how to incorporate each other into your individual lifestyles. Talk it out instead of making assumptions
- Prioritize each other’s happiness and be understanding in situations where your perspectives don’t align. And no, giving up the last slice of pizza doesn’t count
- Figure out what matters most to you in your relationship, and have a conversation about priorities in a healthy relationship with your partner
When you set priorities in a relationship, you’re laying down some guidelines with your partner. You can follow them with a mutual agreement to maintain a happy and healthy bond. If your relationship is going through a rocky phase, setting some principles can help it heal. Even if your relationship feels like a match made in heaven, setting these priorities will enhance the love between you and your partner.
What Are The Biggest Priorities In A Relationship?
So now we’ve seen why relationship priorities are important and how you could go about setting them in your love life. But make sure you don’t end up prioritizing your personal time more than your relationship so much that you barely ever see each other. What should your priorities be in a relationship, the degree to which they’re healthy, and how many you should consider, are all listed below:
1. The relationship itself
The biggest priority you should have in your relationship may well be the relationship itself. No guesswork there. When life gets in the way, a lot of time may pass before you two really pay attention to each other. If you don’t fix your relationship when you see problematic signs, it will most definitely get worse.
Couples tend to take each other for granted once they’ve reached a certain level of comfort and trust. The only way out of this is to check in with your partner, work on the issues and make your relationship a priority.
Besides, in this digital age, you have the option to connect with anyone in the world. This ease of access can pave the way for social media problems in a relationship. Many couples live together because they want to spend quality time. However, after a few months, they end up chatting with others on date nights, right after sex, or during a serious conversation.
At first, it may not seem like something to worry about. But with time, this can ruin your relationship. This is a sign you should rethink your relationship priorities. In such a situation, if possible, take a break from social media to focus on your partner.
2. Happiness is among the priorities in love
Are you not feeling like a priority in a relationship? Do you want to work together to make your relationship a priority? Start with something as simple as happiness. We all know that a happy relationship means making happy memories with your loved one. But once you’re in the thick of a toxic/karmic relationship, you often forget how to be happy in a relationship.
Jaseena tells us, “Happiness does not mean a simple feeling of joy throughout the day. One should prioritize making the other person feel special – that is what is more essential on a relationship priority list. Think about what makes them happy, create it for them, and try to even be part of that happiness.”
When happiness is one of the most important relationship priorities, you’ll be able to ask each other tough questions like, “Are you happy with me?” Figure out what makes them happy and what doesn’t, or why they’re unhappy. Spending quality time with your partner can be helpful in such a case. So, make an effort to devote some time to your partner and see if it makes you feel genuinely happy.
Related Reading: 7 Tips For A Relationship That Will Lead To “I Do”
- Having one’s opinions, thoughts, and feelings dismissed and invalidated by one’s partner can discourage one from opening up. This can cause distance to creep into the relationship
- A lack of mutual respect can make it hard to sustain a relationship in the long run. It can also be a major reason why you’re not feeling like a priority in a relationship
- Respect cannot be bargained on or demanded; it has to exist. Even when partners are not on the same page, they shouldn’t bring each other down or attack one another’s insecurities
- Lack of respect results in skewed power dynamics, which cannot be the basis of a loving relationship
4. Honesty – one of the priorities in a healthy relationship
You may not always be on the same page with your partner and that’s perfectly normal. What matters is how you handle situations where your viewpoints don’t align. Do you have an open conversation about it or do you resort to lies? If it’s the latter, your priorities in the relationship are amiss.
Lying in a relationship to avoid a tough conversation, or just withholding information will just lead to uglier fights in the long run. Even if it’s something as small as you not liking the way they chew, tell them. But do so kindly, or they might exaggerate their animalistic chewing just to piss you off. Honesty, even if it’s momentarily uncomfortable, it will help make your relationship stronger.
You’ll often see relationship priorities change as you evolve as a couple. But communication stays or at least should stay constant. Making time to communicate with your partner is crucial. Once you start taking each other for granted, you may communicate to figure out how to go about the upcoming week but you won’t really talk to your partner.
Therefore, improving communication in a relationship should never be overlooked. Unless you both communicate constantly about what you’re feeling, you’ll end up making guesses about the same. You wouldn’t want to mess up your relationship with the love of your life just because of misunderstandings, would you? Here are a few things to keep in mind to make sure that doesn’t happen:
- Talk about and communicate your likes, dislikes, and boundaries to the other person from the very beginning of a relationship
- When you communicate with your loved mind, keep in mind the best interest of your relationship
- Always find the right time and moment to communicate because if there is a spell of silence in the relationship, one or both partners might start feeling neglected or unseen/unheard
Related Reading: Communication Mistakes Couples Make
How do I make my relationship a priority? What should my relationship priorities be? Why is trust important in a relationship? Maybe these questions are keeping you up at night. No matter what you or your partner have been through in the past, opening yourself up and trusting your partner completely should always be a priority.
Now, things like being cheated on or being lied to in the past can justifiably impede your ability to trust your partner. However, if you keep doubting their intentions, it’s going to take a toll on your relationship, sooner or later. Of course, building trust takes time, and rebuilding it, even more so. But through honesty and communication, you’ll get there.
Jaseena advises, “Setting boundaries in a relationship is important because that is where respect stems from. What is acceptable, what is not, what is tolerated, what is not – these things should be clear in a relationship. Sometimes boundaries may seem blurry but do ensure that they are made stronger at the end of the day.”
It’s all very cute to say, “I can share anything with you!” or “My money is your money”, especially at the beginning of a relationship. But as time goes by and you mature, you realize the need for boundaries in your relationship. This is when you need to work together to make your relationship a priority, with the help of a few rules.
So discuss finances, sexual boundaries, physical boundaries, and the lot. You’ll get to know your partner better and you’ll have a clear understanding of their expectations. A healthy relationship means making some healthy boundaries. The more you communicate about what will work and what won’t, the fewer fights you’ll have.
8. Anger management and fixing problems
Jaseena tells us, “You may see your partner’s anger issues early on in the relationship. But understanding the triggers is essential to help the other person. One should know how to deal with it. However, don’t mistake that for allowing oneself to be constantly silenced or abused.”
Through a conversation about boundaries and constant communication, you should be able to figure out how your partner reacts in an argument. You’ve heard the saying before, a relationship is built on compromise. So, in a few situations, make it a top priority in a relationship. A few instances would be:
- You can’t keep meeting your ex if you’re in a committed relationship and your partner is not okay with it
- You can’t set the room temperature to what feels like minus 40 to your partner
- You’ve got to stop texting your colleague on date nights with your partner
This should also rank very, very high on your relationship priority list. Many couples consider loyalty to be the first priority in a relationship. If yours is an exclusive relationship, loyalty needs to be practiced by everyone involved. Even if it’s an open relationship, there are often limits to who you can sleep with and who you can’t. Unless you promise and practice loyalty, trust will never be fully achieved.
Being cheated on is a horrible feeling that might just make it hard for you to trust any future partners. Clearly tell your partner how much you value loyalty and wish to seek it in your relationship and do make it one of the priorities in a healthy relationship.
Related Reading: 8 Top Priorities In Marriage
10. Kindness – one of the priorities in love
Jaseena says, “Kindness comes from love and respect for another person. It’s a basic attitude and integrity that one should have toward their partner. Unless you care about someone, kindness will not come. Kindness is also a part of your inherent character and something you might have to develop to be in a healthy relationship.” Here are a few things to remember if you want to know how to be kind to your partner:
- Speak only if you can improve upon the silence. If you have nothing to say except hurtful words that you so conveniently hide behind a shroud of “honesty”, consider keeping quiet until you can do away with the harsh words
- No matter what it is you’re communicating, choose your words cautiously and practice empathy in your relationship
- If you put your point across in a condescending tone, the only thing that will be heard is the disrespectful nature of your voice
- Little things like making a cup of tea for your partner, when they could use one, will make your partner feel special. Such thoughtful gestures can go a long way in bringing you closer and making you feel connected
- Figure out your priorities in a relationship and have an open conversation with your partner about setting those priorities in your love life
- Couples tend to take each other for granted once they’ve reached a certain level of comfort and trust. The only way out of this is to check in with your partner, work on the issues and make your relationship a priority
- If there is a history of cheating, trust issues, or a rocky past, communicating honestly and building trust can heal your relationship
- Small acts of kindness (such as making a bowl of broth for your partner on a sick day) will make your partner feel special and prioritized in a relationship
In this list of relationship priorities, you must’ve noticed sex is nowhere to be found. While sex is a very important aspect, things like kindness, respect, communication, and honesty are often valued more. Have a conversation about sex as well, but a relationship that solely survives through physical intimacy in the absence of the priorities we listed, possibly won’t feel as fulfilling.
This article was updated in May, 2023.