Relationships can be great, but they are not always effortless. Some might say that falling in love is easy, and everything that comes afterwards is difficult. Whether your relationship is old or new, there is always room for improvement. Let’s look at some fundamental tips for ensuring that your relationship is as healthy as possible.
1. Figure out how your partner expresses affection…and reciprocate
Recent research shows that most romantic relationships start as friendships. For the most part, people like to learn about their potential partner before they take the plunge. This doesn’t mean that you should worry if you don’t have that foundation upon which to build your relationship. There are a few steps to take to grow a healthy and understanding relationship. One of the most important things is learning how to communicate with your partner.
It takes a lot of effort to be vulnerable and share your feelings with your partner. This is especially true if you have a hard time connecting with the way that they express their love. It is essential to take some time to get to know your partner’s likes and dislikes, as well as their favourite way to show affection. Do they respond better to blunt conversation, or would they prefer a more active discussion? Do they place value on gifts, or do they place more importance on the time you spend together?
Once you understand how your partner thinks and what kind of interaction makes them happiest, try to make small gestures that you know will make them happy. Little compromises can have a significant impact on the health of your relationship.
2. Maintain open communication
Communication is not always easy. According to relationship and communication coach Paula Heartland, many people struggle with empathy and participation in serious discussions. We are not always raised to be open with our own emotions and beliefs. In turn, this often leads us to feel uncomfortable with a frank discussion about relationships and emotions.
Heartland says that it is vitally important to be an empathetic and willing listener while remaining confident in your own needs and feelings. After all, it’s no good learning about how your partner communicates if you can’t keep the lines of communication open with them. The importance of this communication is often overlooked, despite it being a key element in maintaining a happy, healthy relationship.
Take the time to work on your listening skills and try to get more comfortable with serious conversations. If you are having trouble getting to that point, reach out to your partner, tell them where the struggle is, and see if you can work through it together. This also helps to build a strong sense of trust between you, making communication much easier in the future.
3. Do not lose yourself
It is not unusual to find yourself falling into a new relationship and losing track of reality, especially during the ‘honeymoon’ period when everything feels perfect. New couples often want to spend every waking hour together, but it’s important to make time for you and your interests outside of the relationship. Maintaining a sense of self – an understanding of who you are outside of your partner – is essential to maintaining healthy boundaries with your partner.
When you lose your sense of self and begin defining who you are by your relationship, it becomes much more difficult to have objective conversations and minor disagreements. These constructive conversations are important as they promote good communication and ensure that all parties in the relationship are happy.
4. Make playful moments a priority
It can be easy to sink into the monotony of daily life. Our days sometimes begin to follow the same routine from the time we wake up until we fall asleep, which can quickly suck the fun out of relationships. Do not forget to have fun together! These lighter moments are invaluable to bonding and trust-building.
Making time for light-hearted fun is particularly important in the face of life changes that impact the tone of a relationship. The death of a loved one, for example, might naturally lead one partner to take care of the other as they grieve. There is nothing wrong with supporting your significant other, but eventually you need to move the relationship back to one where both partners care about each other equally. Making playful moments a priority can help remove some of the negativity that serious changes bring and make it easier to enjoy each other as equals.
5. Share hobbies and goals
Because so many relationships begin as friendships, it is natural to end up with a partner who shares some of the same interests you do. If you are unsure if you have a shared interest with your partner, try doing different activities together until you find one! You might be surprised at what captures your attention.
Time alone is critical to a healthy relationship, but so is spending time together doing something you love. This might be something physical such as hiking or mountain climbing, something quieter such as reading each other’s favourite books, or something a bit simpler such as playing your favourite online casino games together. Whatever the common denominator is, make time to pursue it together.
Similarly, shared goals are a vital element of healthy relationships. Note that these goals do not need to be overly significant. While you can certainly share serious goals such as saving for a home, you can also share the goal of getting more exercise or learning to cook. As long as you are working together to succeed, the goal can be as big or small as you want.
Are you ready to build a healthy relationship with your partner? Keep our tips in mind and remember that not every piece of advice will work for every relationship. It is okay if you need to improvise! Figure out what works for you both and go from there.