I have had a few slip-ups lately in being the woman I want to be in my relationship. One stressful day, I yelled at my BF twice. Sometimes I tune him out in conversation when I’m feeling overwhelmed with information, or get pouty when I want something. I am more tempted to nag than I have been the whole time we’ve dated. We are in that phase in which, even though there’s no proposal yet, marriage seems more and more inevitable. At the same time as I am getting comfortable with him, the things that seemed little when we led separate lives are magnified now that we are planning a future together. So I’ve had a lot of thinking over the past week about what I can do to better myself in this phase.

It’s a given with the advice here that you’ve picked a strong, loyal man who can handle his emotions and is going somewhere in life. My man fits these characteristics. There are so many things to admire about him. He has risen up from a difficult upbringing and inspires me with his endless motivation to make things better for himself and his loved ones. So why do I care so much if he drinks too much soda or lets his place get messy in between cleanings?

In having anger problems, going through a divorce, and having lots of therapy to reform myself, I’ve learned that you just have to let things go. But how? Even if I intercept unhelpful thoughts and say to myself, “I’m going to let this go,” I will just be tempted to nag or criticize when it comes up again. If I resist 99 times and give in on the 100th time, I have still made an issue of something inconsequential, which adds up to have a corrosive effect on the relationship. So what can I do?

I’m starting to realize now, as the title says, that I have to want a healthy relationship more than anything else. Not as a sweet-sounding platitude, but as a life-changing reality. That means I have to want a healthy relationship more than I want “fairness”—more than I want to get my way or prove my point or have my preferred way of doing things adopted. This is a profound paradigm shift. No longer is happiness a power struggle to get the better of a zero-sum game, tilting the hourglass to put more sand in my half. I know now that, assuming the traits above, increasing his happiness will increase my own and vice versa. When the driver hits the gas, the passenger accelerates too. If my winning an argument means that he loses, then I also lose. We are a team, and our destinies are intertwined.

Addicts know that the most effective way to get rid of an unwanted habit is to replace it with something else. You can do this in a healthy way or in an unhealthy way. But if you undo something in your life without choosing what will take its place, a vacuum is created which will be filled with something eventually. So I am choosing to replace criticism and pouting with serenity and happiness-building. And for that, I can let it go.