If one thing in life is inevitable, relationships take much work and effort. But when work gets busy, and schedules get hectic, romantic relationships can be put on the backburner. To avoid neglecting the special relationship you share with your partner, there are several things that you should practice by yourself and as a couple.
It’s important to remember that no relationship is perfect and unrealistic expectations hold the ability to eradicate something perfect for you. While working toward a “healthy” relationship can seem like a daunting task, a future filled with happiness, support, and excitement is worth it.
You might be wondering, “what is a healthy relationship?” This looks different for every couple, but every loving relationship shares a few characteristics like respect, open communication, friendship, intimacy, and honesty.
These tips will help you build a strong foundation for an extraordinary relationship with your significant other.
Begin by improving yourself
By taking care of your mental, emotional, and physical health, you can become a better partner. It means getting adequate sleep at night to be productive during the day, expressing your gratitude to others, and loving yourself. Practicing self-compassion and being kind to yourself will result in behaviors that translate into healthy relationships.
Keeping your ego in check can also help your romantic relationship—humility is an essential factor in relationship success. Those who cannot push their ego to the side can be extremely hard to communicate productively. If you’re wrong in an argument, you have to be capable of giving a sincere apology to your significant other.
Another way you can improve yourself is by prioritizing your career and goals as an individual. Sometimes, the two people can become so intertwined that personal hopes and dreams get neglected in relationships. Being motivated toward your career and individual hobbies, outside of your goals as a couple, is extremely healthy.
Never question the intent of your partner.
Assuming or questioning your partner’s intent rarely results in a positive outcome. Doubting the intention of your significant other can make them feel as if you do not trust them. Instead, try to understand your partner’s intent better and remember that at the end of the day, they care for you deeply. All relationships encounter speed bumps but what’s important is how the couple navigates them.
Take the time to appreciate what makes them unique and wonderful.
In all relationships, especially long-term relationships, it can be easy to over-focus on what your significant other isn’t doing correctly. When you shift your thinking and reflect upon what makes your partner unique and what you first admired about them in the beginning, your relationship will flourish. Instead of being too hard on your partner, try to give them sincere compliments and appreciation when they do something that makes you happy.
When they leave their dirty dishes in the sink for the millionth time, take a second to reflect upon your first date and your feelings. Reconnecting with these feelings and memories will help you see your partner for who they are.
If you’re having a hard time appreciating your partner, plan a romantic or fun date that can help you reconnect. Watching television all night long provides limited opportunities for romance, so it’s best to shake things up with a kayaking date, hike, or trip to the nearby mini-golf range.
Finding ways to interrupt negative or repetitive patterns in a fun and exciting ways
Relationships are certainly not all rainbows and unicorns—disagreements are always bound to happen, and couples can get stuck in a routine. Some people carry dysfunctional relationship dynamics and patterns from past relationships into their current ones. Becoming aware of these negative or repetitive patterns is the most crucial step.
If you find yourself stuck in a repetitive pattern with your partner, stop everything you’re doing and go for a walk or ice cream. Giving in to the repetitive pattern will result in the same unproductive outcome as always, so you might as well try something new to get both of your minds off of it.
Never threaten the relationship.
When you encounter a disagreement with your partner, one of the worst things you can do is threaten a break-up or divorce. Doing this will create insecurity in the relationship, and it will forever change the dynamics of future arguments.
Threatening a break-up can also cause you to lose all credibility in your relationship. In future disagreements, your partner will lose faith in whatever you say. Some people even believe that repeatedly threatening a break-up or divorce is a form of emotional manipulation.
Instead of threatening your partner that you’re going to leave, the both of you need to learn how to calmly and effectively communicate with each other. Jumping to rash and dramatic conclusions seldom end well.
Continually review how the relationship can improve together.
While it may feel uncomfortable for the first few times, meeting with your partner monthly or quarterly to check in on the relationship is a great way to ensure all parties are happy. This doesn’t have to be a long or formal conversation.
If you don’t like communicating about your feelings, you can rate your relationship on a scale of 1 to 10 and explain why you picked this number. This allows both of you to discuss needs that aren’t being met or your goals for your relationship. Those keen to have a thriving relationship can ask their partner, “what can I do to be a better partner for you?”
Reviewing the relationship can feel awkward, especially if you take constructive criticism personally. It’s essential to deliver your messages to your partner with respect and kindness, and hopefully, they will follow suit.
Create shared traditions and goals
Being stagnant is never a good thing, so couples should always have set goals to work toward together. This could be collectively saving for a trip to Europe, fostering a dog every few months, or training for a half marathon. Having shared goals means that you must support each other along the way and will create a stable framework for your relationship.
When it comes to traditions, these provide couples with the perfect opportunity to connect through something that is meaningful and brings them joy.
Another huge tip is that couples should celebrate every milestone, no matter how small. Promotions, anniversaries, and accomplishments in your personal life or spouse’s should always be marked with a date night or glass of champagne. Celebrating is an excuse to connect.
Decide to be kind rather than right.
Sometimes it’s more important to be kind than right in arguments or disagreements. When these occur, look at them as an opportunity to strengthen your communication and relationship. Instead of saying hurtful words or throwing accusations around, be respectful and listen, as this will benefit your relationship in the long run.
When fights occur, many people can become highly defensive and say words they can’t take back. While fighting does show a healthy level of passion, name-calling can be detrimental to the well-being of both people. If you tend to get explosive and aggressive in arguments, remove yourself from the situation until you feel like you can maturely and respectfully address it. Going for a walk or practicing yoga is a great way to calm yourself down before clearly communicating your issues with your partner.
It’s completely normal to want to be right in every disagreement. However, learning to admit that you were wrong can strengthen your relationship. Constantly wanting to be right can stunt the growth of your relationship, skew the dynamics, make your partner feel bad, and even make you feel bad, too.
Learn your partner’s love language
“What’s a love language?” you may ask. Well, it’s the general ways that romantic partners experience and express their adoration for each other. There are five ways:
- Words of affirmation: If you love to receive compliments or love letters and find it essential for your spouse to communicate how they feel about you verbally, you like to receive love through words of affirmation. This can also be seen as encouragement.
- Quality time: People with this love language feel most loved when their partner spends time with them. If someone’s love language is quality time, stay off of your phone when you’re spending time with them.
- Receiving gifts: Some people like to get showered in thoughtful gifts or symbols of love like flowers and chocolate.
- Physical touch: People with this love language feel most loved when their partner holds their hand, initiates cuddling, or other types of intimacy.
- Acts of service: If you love when your partner picks up groceries, unloads the dishwasher, or takes the dog out for their afternoon business, your love language is acts of service.
But the way people express love and how they like to experience it isn’t always the same. Often, it’s different, which is why a casual discussion about love languages with your partner is always a good idea. This way, you can be mindful of how they like to receive love, as this will make them feel supported and cared for.
When in a relationship, many people assume that their partner has the same love language. But if you love it when your partner prepares and serves you a sandwich, you have to understand that they might not appreciate this gesture in the same way. That’s why it’s most effective to find out what makes them feel happy and loved and to do that instead.
Be flexible and learn how to compromise.
Comprising is important in any relationship, whether romantic or with a friend or family member. It’s unhealthy to make your significant other always do what you want to do. Even if you dislike their date ideas or hobbies, participating in them from time to time will make your partner feel appreciated and loved. With that being said, they also need to compromise and occasionally do what they want to do. Learning how to compromise with your partner will help you grow together as a team, fostering trust, consistency, and security. It shows your significant other that you care about your happiness and success as a partnership rather than your satisfaction and interest.
Ask them questions
Genuinely asking your partner questions about their day without having your phone out in front of you is seriously underrated. After a long day of working at the office or from home, it’s nice to have your partner check in on how you’re feeling. If you always ask them, “how was your day?” and get a one-word response, try to ask probing questions that can develop into a conversation. For example, try asking, “what made you smile today?” or “can you tell me a little bit about what you did today?” No matter what their answer, find something interesting about what they are saying and use this conversation as an opportunity to connect and unwind together.
When you date someone for a long time, it can be easy to assume that you know how their day went or what’s going on in their life. Asking your partner questions makes them feel supported and that you’re interested in what they have to share.
While relationships feel like a lot of work, they are worth it if you’re with the right person. Consistently putting in the effort to hear and support your partner will result in a deep, respectful, and emotionally intimate relationship, which everyone wants.
Aside from emotional intimacy and a strong bond, your partner often becomes your best friend. If you accept who they are, work to understand them, and try not to take them for granted, they will surely do the same for you.