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How to take charge in a relationship: 19 effective tips

You might feel undervalued or unheard in your relationship.

You and your partner are an otherwise happy couple, but there are some aspects of your relationship that make you feel like you’re not getting as much out of it — and out of your partner — as you need for your happiness.

So what’s going on?

The problem might be that you don’t know how to take charge in your relationship, and you haven’t communicated your needs properly.

All relationships are a struggle between two people trying their best to stay happy and in-love with each other, and it’s important that all your needs are met so you can stay with your partner for years to come.

Here are 19 tips to take charge of your relationship and turn things around:

1) Don’t Settle For Less

Learning how to assert yourself isn’t easy.

When you’re used to being meek and submissive, sometimes the simple act of feeling confident in what you feel seems like such a big feat.

One of the first things you should learn is to be more proactive with what you want.

Instead of sweeping feelings and issues under the rug, take the time to accept them as they are and understand the reasons why you feel those things in the first place.

According to relationship expert, Connell Barrett, “If you bury your feelings 10 feet underground, you make it hard for your partner to relate to you, and you make it almost impossible to solve problems.

Relationships are all about flexibility and compromise, but they are also about respect and boundaries.

Don’t let the relationship dictate what you should be feeling or thinking.

Be aware of your personal standards and use those to navigate your relationship, instead of completely abandoning them for the sake of your partner’s happiness.

2) Speak Up

Empowerment begins with honesty.

When you start being honest about what you feel, what your expectations and needs truly are, you are already taking the power back in the relationship.

Most people think taking charge of the relationship is about having the upper hand.

But “power” means having the freedom and confidence to control what you can and what is reasonable within the relationship.

Being able to speak up about issues concerning you and your partner, as well as some decisions you’ve made together along the way, can really create that sense of belongingness and authority in the relationship.

Rather than feeling like the relationship is happening to you, speaking up encourages you to become an active participant in the relationship.

You’re practicing this habit where you are active and involved in your relationship just as much as your partner is.

3) Maintain Your Independence

Sometimes feeling lost in the relationships has less to do with your actual partner and more to do with the self.

When you start losing that sense of “I” in a relationship, it can easily feel like who you are is just being washed away by the relationship; you no longer see yourself as an individual.

As with any relationship, it’s crucial to establish that strong sense of self.

Assert your individuality by reminding yourself of who you are outside your partner.

Engage in your own hobbies and carve time out for yourself — these activities help you touch base with your identity and make you feel more empowered in the relationship.

More importantly, tell your partner what you feel.

If you need some space to rediscover yourself, make sure to communicate that with your partner.

If you need to rethink the way you spend time together, make sure to tell them that too.

4) Be Consistent With Your Words and Actions

Taking charge in the relationship is all about earning respect in your partner.

You can’t rule with an iron fist; it won’t be much of a relationship in the first place.

If you seek to be a leader figure and want to take a more active role in decision-making, you need to show your partner that you’re someone he or she can rely on.

Let them know that your words and actions hold value and meaning by following through and showing your partner that the relationship isn’t completely lawless.

Set a good example by being consistent with your words and actions.

In other words, be the change you want to see in the relationship.

If you want to start setting boundaries about certain things, uphold those standards and follow through with what you say.

This helps your partner see that you mean what you say and you expect the same from them.

This creates a healthy baseline of respect and commitment that could prove useful as the two of you grow together.

5) Be Honest With What You Feel

You won’t ever feel like you have equal footing in the relationship if you won’t even let yourself feel the things you’re feeling.

Sometimes you’ll respond with anger, guilt, and unhappiness at your partner’s actions, and in some cases, your partner will feel like these feelings are unwarranted.

Instead of letting these feelings fester, use this as an opportunity to talk about what you really feel.

There is power in asserting your own feelings.

Sometimes we get into the habit of denying our own thoughts and feelings for the sake of preserving the peace in the relationship.

This seemingly altruistic move contributes to the feeling of lessening self-worth; if you don’t even value your own emotions, how can your partner extend you the same courtesy?

So, be open and honest with what you feel. Embrace the negatives as much as the positives. That’s the only way you could begin to feel like an active participant in the relationship.

6) Challenge Your Assumptions

Social conditioning makes us assume things about where our power lies in a relationship.

From friendships to old relationships, these interactions help us form ideas of what our role is in relationships and what our responsibilities are.

As familiar as these roles are, they aren’t always helpful.

Assumptions about where your power lies become automatic because this is what you’ve been used to before.

But keep in mind that every relationship is different and that every partner you’ll be with is different.

Having an understanding based on your current relationship allows you to grow and genuinely connect with your current partner.

If you’re feeling restrained based on your previous relationship, let your partner know.

If you think you’re acting out based on what you were used to in the past, take a step back and realize that your actions and feelings might be a reaction to your old relationship instead of the new one.

7) Look At Your Own Choices

What better way to take charge than to take responsibility for your own actions?

There’s no better way to feel better about your relationship than to own the parts you’re actually responsible for.

You can’t keep getting annoyed or upset at your partner because of choices they’ve made, when your choices aren’t really that much better.

So take a step back from the heat of the relationship for a minute and ask yourself: are you really being the best partner you can be?

Have you taken your partner’s thoughts and feelings into consideration with every choice you made, or have you still acted like the same old single person you’ve always been?

8) Take Responsibility For Your Actions

It’s easy to forget this part with all the love and good vibes in a relationship, but relationships take tons of work, and part of that work includes acknowledging the times you’ve messed up.

You might wish your partner could just let go of your mistakes and your flaws; that they should love you unconditionally no matter what, right?

You might even think that allowing your partner to see the mistakes you made will only undermine your own power in the relationship, which is exactly the opposite of what you want.

But it’s all about leading by example: you want your partner to see that you’re serious about this relationship, and that includes seriously trying to be the best version of yourself you can be, even if that means calling yourself out for your mistakes.

9) Take Time To Change What Bothers You

No relationship is perfect. Even the happiest couples have some arguments or disagreements from time to time.

And building a strong relationship where you call the shots isn’t just about criticizing your partner and making them fix the things you don’t like about this partnership.

It’s about truly understanding what bothers you in the relationship and following a game plan to fix those issues.

Don’t just complain, complain, complain.

Your partner loves you as much as you love them, and of course, they want to be better for you, but that doesn’t mean they always know-how.

Help them fix whatever the issue is so that you two can both move on peacefully.

10) Ask For Help

A relationship should always feel equal, with both partners feeling that they’re loved and accepted by being in the relationship, and when you don’t feel that way, it can be a problem.

This isn’t something you should be ashamed about — if you feel like your relationship is draining you more than it’s helping you, then it might be time to ask for outside help.

This could mean asking for help from your friends, your family, or even with a professional.

The feelings of powerlessness in your relationship might not stem from the relationship at all; it might just be the way you handle yourself in life, and it’s only most obvious with your partner since it’s your most active relationship.

Figure out what’s causing this sense of powerlessness by talking about it with someone you can trust.

11) Build On Trust and Communication

The need for power in a relationship is normal — it gives you a sense of order and stability, the certainty to go on with your day, knowing that your relationship will be around even when you turn your back.

But during this struggle for power, you need to ensure that your need to control doesn’t turn into toxic manipulation.

You might end up spying on your partner, following them around town, or going through their phone, simply because you want to know everything that’s going on.

This is the quickest way to destroy a relationship.

What you should do instead of build on trust and communication.

Talk with your partner; let them understand exactly what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it.

Explain to them what you need to feel comfortable, and ask them if they’re comfortable adjusting for you.

If not, find out how you two can reach a compromise you can both agree with.

12) Let Go Of The Need To Be Right

Too many people confuse control with being right.

You think that when you don’t win an argument or a discussion, then you’ve suddenly lost control; now you might end up spiraling, feeling like the relationship is falling apart and there’s nothing you can do about it.

You need to take a deep breath and relax.

Stop mixing together your need to be in control and your need to be right, because those are two separate issues.

Asking for control in a relationship is understandable, but asking always to be right is unreasonable.

So let go.

You don’t always need to be right, because you won’t always be right.

And is the need to be right really more important than your partner’s happiness?

13) Set Clear Boundaries

Gaining control in a relationship means gaining acceptance from your partner of your need for control.

Your partner needs to understand what “control” means to you before they can agree to be in that relationship with you because their happiness is just as important as your happiness.

This is why it’s crucial that you establish clear boundaries, and you explain exactly what you want in the relationship.

Without these clear boundaries, your partner might end up feeling confused and frustrated; they might think of you as abusive and power-hungry, constantly changing the goalposts just to get what you want.

So let them know from the start — what’s okay with you and what isn’t.

And if they can agree to your boundaries — and you can stick to them — then there’s no reason why the relationship can’t work out.

14) Use Active Language Without the Anger

The modern world doesn’t usually encourage us to be so forward and open with our language.

We often like beating around the bush, suggesting what we want instead of actively asking for it, because we don’t want to come off as aggressive or needy.

But that’s exactly how you need to communicate in a relationship.

You may think that something is incredibly obvious to you, but your partner might not be getting it at all.

This can go on until it gets to the point that you’re mad at your partner for not getting obvious, while your partner is saying that they can’t read your mind.

So use your active language, without any of the drama.

Tell your partner what you want, what you need, what you feel, what you will do and won’t do, what you can and can’t do, and what you would like from them.

Explain in clear language: what works with you and what doesn’t.

15) Stop Being A Perfectionist

This one goes along with the need to always be right, but it might be even worse: it’s not just about being right in discussions and disagreements, but it’s also about being right in every little facet of your lives together.

Remember: being in a relationship means fitting your life with another person’s life.

What may be perfect won’t necessarily be perfect to them. And nitpicking over every little thing will do two things to your relationship:

It will make your partner feel unhappy, because of the constant need to adjust for your perfectionism

It will undermine your say over the more important things because you care so much about the tiny things

Learn how to be flexible. Learn to live with the imperfection and the uncertainty of doing something you’re not totally comfortable with.

Your partner will recognize your effort and naturally grant you power when it truly matters.

16) Cultivate Affection

Gaining control over your relationship isn’t always about showing that you’re not a pushover.

This isn’t a business transaction; this is a romantic relationship.

And that means your partner isn’t going to respond positively if you’re just pushing them around all the time, demanding you get what you want.

Because that’s not what anyone expects from a relationship.

If you want their agreement to what you want in your relationship, then make the relationship worthwhile to them with tons of affection.

Keep the intimacy, love, and harmony between you two alive with constant signs of affection.

Let your partner know that you’re not just with them so you can have someone to bully; you’re with them so you can truly enjoy building a life with them.

17) Work On Goals Together

Getting the most out of your relationship means pushing both you and your partner out of your comfort zones.

It’s not just about making each other happy; it’s also about giving each other a sense of fulfillment and achievement that you could only have earned together.

So find ways to add more to each other’s lives. Maybe you can pick up a project together, or start hitting the gym together or start any new hobby together.

Whatever you do, the purpose of these goals is to push each other to greater heights, and show each other that you need one another to be your best self.

When your partner sees that, they will naturally respect you more, and with that respect comes the willingness to listen to your needs and make sure you get what you want from the relationship.

18) Be Intentional About Who You Want To Be

Many people want control, but they don’t know what to do with it once they have it.

This is mainly because they don’t ever really envision themselves in a position where they have what they want; they only envision the act of asking for it.

So when they finally get into a relationship where their partner is willing to give them what they want, they’re not entirely sure how to deal with it.

Why?

Because you might not know who you are, or who you really want to be.

Ask yourself the question: what kind of a person do you want to be, and what kind of a partner do you want to be in your relationship?

Discover the true intentions in your heart, the real goals you want to achieve with your partner and the way you see yourself in your ideal relationship.

What steps do you have to take to get from your current self to your ideal relationship self? What do you need to change — and what do you need from your partner — to become that person for them?

19) Learn How To Respond To Conflict

Fights are a normal part of any relationship.

The last thing you want to do is drop a relationship just because you’ve had a few fights, because it might be impossible to find a relationship where you have zero fights.

And when you try to take charge in a relationship, you might try to hyper-analyze every single fight down to the tiniest details, in your attempt to make the relationship perfect again.

But the problem isn’t the fight; not what caused the fight or what the fight was about.

The problem is how you and your partner reacted to the fight. If you started it, how did your partner react?

If your partner started it, how did you react? What could either of you have done differently to stop it from escalating to that point?

How could you have acted more productively and positively to make sure all emotions stayed unharmed?

Show your partner that by taking charge of the relationship, you know the best way to steer the ship and ensure you two stay happy and in love.

And this means learning how to fight each other without tearing everything apart.

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Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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