If you want the absolute best relationship that you can have with your significant other then you must maintain constant vigilance at all times.
If you want to take a good relationship and make it wonderful then it is essential that you learn what vigilance is and how to properly apply it.
I have written about the need to maintain vigilance in our daily lives before. For me it is absolutely in the top five traits most necessary to have a successful life.
It’s application to our relationship with others, especially our romantic relationships, is even more critical. Applied properly it will make your relationship better in every way and buttress it from all but the worst attacks.
WHAT VIGILANCE IS AND WHAT IT IS NOT
The Oxford Living Dictionary defines vigilance as the action or state of keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties. The word possibly derives from the Latin “vigilare,” which means “keep awake.”
If you want a more common touch to that definition then let me oblige you. For me, vigilance is staying on top of shit at all times to make sure it’s going right and isn’t heading off the rails.
But it must be done frequently and on a regular schedule. Not when it all of a sudden pops in your head. Not when shit goes sideways on you. You do it when times are good and bad. All the time.
Every day?? Well, it depends on how important the thing is that you are staying vigilant about is. If it means everything to you then I suggest you keep up on it as much as you can.
On the other hand, I am not talking about obsession here. I am not suggesting even for a second that all your thoughts are tied up in your relationship all day every day.
That would be ridiculous and completely counterproductive. When I was looking for quotes for this article I came across this one immediately below:
I have no idea the context of that half quote, but it’s useful to illustrate that I’m not talking about making your relationship a job, or suggesting a strategy of suffocation by love.
I am talking about constantly thinking of ways you can make your relationship better, and that can be as fun as you make it. Think of it as always keeping the best interests of the relationship in mind.
WHY BE VIGILANT IN A RELATIONSHIP
The first reason to make a point to be constantly vigilant in your relationship is that relationships become stale, and that is due to a lack of attention being paid to the relationship.
Relationships are are wonderfully rewarding in many ways, such as tax breaks, splitting expensive meals, only owing half the rent for a nice house you couldn’t afford by yourself. Oh, and love and companionship, kids etc. etc.
But they can be mentally taxing as well. They do require some effort and work on your part. Like most things it’s better to do the work up front than on the back end.
The back end is a divorce with child support obligations, or a disappointing breakup for legally single folk, anger, cheating, financial ruin, constant bickering and I am just scratching the surface.
Divorce sucks, to varying degrees, whether you want it or you don’t. Yes, even if you are sick of that other person and you can’t wait to get as far away from that person as you can, it still sucks.
Your mission is to avoid these nasty pitfalls by all means necessary. The way to do that is constant vigilance. Always keeping in mind that a garden not watered always withers and dies.
The second reason to be constantly vigilant is because you genuinely care for, and indeed love this person. They are one of if not the most important person in your life. Surely then they deserve your constant effort to keep the love alive.
You spend most of your time with this person. They must have some importance in your life. Treat them accordingly!
At the beginning of our relationships we tend to be excited with the new person we have found and the feelings they inspire in us. Often, this alone is enough motivation for us to improve ourselves, to act on our best behavior, and stay vigilant, or attentive to the best interests of the relationship.
Yet this is a temporary situation. Soon you will fall back into old habits once the newness wears off. But not if you stay vigilant!
HOW TO STAY VIGILANT IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP
I’ve written before that the best way to stay vigilant in life is to create habits or routines that will remind you at regular intervals to act. Relationship vigilance works on the same principles.
Establish times during the week where you focus on your partner and relationship. For example, establish a time each week when just the two of you go out on a date. You can always change the time or the day, just get it done each week.
Try to think of something weekly or daily that you can do for your mate that brings them joy. Always be coming up with something that you can do for your mate. Put their needs first several times a week.
That can be gifts, cards, flowers, but it can also be chores around the house, a short handwritten note, a nice text, a voice message, a short video, a surprise anything.
Just do something and give your best effort. Context is important too. You know your partner well and should have an idea of what’s going to make a difference to them.
And when I say constant vigilance I mean you do this every week. You don’t have to overwhelm your partner; just be consistent.
If you have to write it down on a calendar or put it in an app on your phone, just get it done. I don’t care if sounds mechanical or it lacks romance. Both are arguably correct but neither are relevant.
What is more important is that you make the acts that you perform for your partner romantic. Not even romantic necessarily, just kind and thoughtful. Moreover, that you cared enough to come up with a system to remind you to do that is romantic.
Do try to vary the things you do for your partner. Doing the same thing or things will get old, whether you think it should or not.
Put some thought into your efforts. Changing things up will be noticed and appreciated.
Something hand made or handwritten is always a home run, a touchdown, a three pointer, a goal (soccer and hockey), and any other positive sports result you can think of.
Beyond gift giving and chore doing for your partner, vigilance is making sure you are happy too. Vigilance is for the relationship; not just your partner.
It’s a good idea to occasionally, but regularly, ask your partner if there is anything you can do for them, or whether every thing is good.
Now, I understand that there is a sizable percentage of the population that would rather impale themselves than be criticized or god forbid have a confrontation, or even an honest discussion.
You would do well to get over those fears, for if you don’t learn to endure some pin pricks in the form of honest conversation with your partner, then you will eventually have to bear the pain of greater problems (see previous section).
In other words, ask up front if there’s anything wrong or whether you can do anything for them.
Finally, deal with problems immediately. Don’t let them fester hoping they will subside.
Do deal with it with kindness and early on.
BENEFITS OF CONSTANT VIGILANCE IN A RELATIONSHIP
The benefits of maintaining constant vigilance in your relationship run deep and stretch far and wide, but the main benefit is that you happily stay together for a lifetime. There is no greater benefit than that.
In the face of perpetual kindness, for that is much of what your vigilance strategy is, you will receive nothing but positive results.
Your partner will either start treating you in a similar fashion or they won’t. Either result is beneficial to you. If your partner does not eventually respond in kind to your generosity then perhaps you are with the wrong person.
Yet, think about if someone was constantly making an effort to make you feel important, loved, valued, and respected. That would feel magnificent! And you would likely feel the desire to reciprocate.
Thus, the way to receive is to give, and whom better to give to than the person you love the most. Essentially, you are practicing being a giver to your partner.
Understand that your partner may not match you. They do not have to match you and you would do well not to expect that; expecting tit for tat is nonsense, and not the purpose of being constantly vigilant.
Rather, you are doing your absolute best on a regular basis to make certain your partner feels loved, valued, respected, and that all of their needs are being met. The reason is to ensure that your relationship will happily endure.
One reason some people stray from their relationship is because they do not feel they are getting enough attention at home.
Nothing excuses cheating, but the point is not whether cheating is ever justified, it’s working to ensure that the reasons that most often lead to cheating, such as boredom, or a feeling of not being appreciated, do not occur.
Cheating could happen to anyone. Please don’t assume that people are predisposed to cheating. Surely, some are, but some are just bored or do not feel appreciated.
You can easily prevent those last two issues from occurring by trying your best on a regular basis to bring joy and happiness into your mate’s life.
You will feel confident and happy with yourself and your partner if you stay constantly vigilant in your relationship.
Taking action and making plans to do something nice for your mate will give you a sense of great accomplishment and fill you with pride and happiness.
Seeing the results, like their smile or a change in attitude, or seeing them start to make an effort to make you happy, will leave you absolutely joyous.
Even if you fail to see any change in your partner that may be OK too. Keep at it. Perhaps nothing needs to change.
But if your relationship is stale or in bad shape do something radical and start doing nice things and checking on your partner’s needs. This new vigilance may save your relationship.
But if it does not save it you can feel good in knowing that you put forth great effort and that you are well prepared for the next relationship with someone that will appreciate it.
Finally, by staying vigilant you are heading off larger problems. Dealing maturely with issues as they begin to arise or before they arise is your goal.
Give effort. Be nice. All the time. Automate it if you have to, but get it done without fail. Suffocate? No. Regular Care and Concern? Hell to the yes.
I’m telling you that constantly keeping in mind your partner’s wants and needs is going to make for a wonderful relationship.
Now imagine this going on for the rest of your life. Amazing!
Stay vigilant with your relationship and watch it improve right before your eyes, much like a thirsty flower when watered. And then observe how strong it stays so long as you stay constantly vigilant.