A healthy relationship between two people has shown to offer multiple benefits. It can reduce stress, increase happiness, and improve your overall physical and mental health.
It won’t always be easy, but the work it takes to establish a solid romantic foundation will set couples up for success in the future. Whether you’ve just entered into a new relationship or are looking for ways to improve your current one, these five tips can help create a strong and healthy partnership.
1. Communicate openly and honestly with each other
One of the most important things you can do for your relationship is to communicate openly and honestly with each other. This means sharing your thoughts, feelings, and needs with each other without fear of judgment or criticism. It can be difficult to do this at first, but it’s important for the health of your relationship. If you’re not sure how to start communicating more openly with each other, try exploring different methods until you find one (or multiple) that works for you as a couple.
Some of these methods can include:
- Express feelings in first-person with “I” rather than confrontationally with “you”
- Share what it is that you want from the relationship, not what you don’t want
- Ask open-ended questions and be open to the answers
- Listen without being defensive, condescending, or judgmental
- Respond calmly
- Don’t talk over each other
- Talk about more than just daily functions and necessities (i.e. talk about your hobbies, current events, or something interesting that happened that day)
- Remove distractions, such as phones, television, etc.
- Above all, be respectful of each other and what you each have to say
We know it can be easier said than done, so ask for additional help if you need it. Couples and marriage counseling not only gives you the tools to communicate more effectively, but can also provide a safe space to discover what works for you.
2. Respect each other’s boundaries
In any relationship, it’s important to respect each other’s boundaries. This means listening to what your partner has to say and being considerate of their feelings and needs. It also means respecting their need for space or privacy when they ask for it. When couples respect each other’s boundaries, they are more likely to feel closer to and trusting of one another.
Boundaries are also important when it comes to intimacy, sexual and otherwise. There may be times when your partner doesn’t feel like engaging in intimate activities, and that needs to be respected. Don’t take their withdrawal or rejection as a personal attack, but rather as an opportunity to discover the reason behind it. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a stressful day that your partner needs time to decompress from. Other times, people may just not feel like being intimate at that moment. No matter which side you’re on, communicate why you’re setting the boundary and be respectful of that decision.
3. Show appreciation for each other
One way to keep your relationship healthy is to show appreciation for each other. This can be done in small ways, like saying “thank you” when your partner does something nice for you. Or in bigger ways, like taking the time to write a heartfelt letter expressing your love and appreciation for your partner. Our partners may know we appreciate them, but little reminders every now and then provide confirmation. Whatever form it takes, showing appreciation for each other is an important part of keeping your relationship strong.
Showing appreciation for each other also includes respecting each other’s differences. Couples with different hobbies, opinions, or interests must learn to respect those differences in order to accept their partner as an individual. It would be unfair to expect your partner to like or participate in everything that you enjoy doing. Find activities or hobbies you both enjoy, and then spend time doing those together. Remember, it’s also okay to enjoy different things separately.
4. Keep an open mind
Compromise isn’t always the easiest thing to do in a relationship, especially when it requires a sacrifice from one or both partners. Keep an open mind to how your partner is feeling. Understand that the decision can be difficult, and talk through the options so you both have an understanding of what the compromise means.
Your relationship will ultimately become stronger, happier, and healthier when mutual concession has been made. Even little compromises, like who takes the children to school in the morning, can have a huge impact on the success of a relationship. A relationship creates a team, and a team won’t succeed unless it finds a way to work together.
It’s also important to know which aspects of yourself or your relationship shouldn’t need to be compromised. You shouldn’t feel like you have to change who you are or compromise your values or integrity for someone else. If someone is asking you to change important parts of yourself to fit their needs, it may be time to re-evaluate the relationship and that partner.
5. Make time for each other
Work, family obligations, and social commitments can make it easy for couples to get caught up in their busy lives. Quality time should be a priority in a relationship, even if it isn’t as often as it used to be. Make time to enjoy each other’s company, and spend that time together alone. Whether it’s going on regular date nights, taking weekend getaways together, or simply going for a walk together, making time for each other is an important part of maintaining a healthy relationship.
We hope these tips are able to provide a pathway toward a healthier relationship with your partner. It’s normal for relationships to go through rough patches, and it’s how you handle them that affects the foundation of your relationship.
If you or your significant other are struggling to find a healthy balance as a married couple or partnership, professional guidance could provide the additional support you need. Our professionals have helped couples build and establish a solid foundation that is set up for success in the years to come. Schedule an appointment or give us a call at (217) 222-8254 to get started.