A healthy relationship is like medicine for your soul. It is a source of comfort, security and joy. We all know how important good relationships are, both for our hearts and minds. But not everyone is willing to expend the conscious effort required to preserve them.
Every relationship goes through highs and lows, but the balancing scale should tilt toward the highs. And if it doesn’t, it’s time for an overhaul. Don’t settle for an OK relationship. Aim for a better, healthier relationship.
While there are endless ways to enhance your relationship, I tried to stay practical with my advice. I combined research with my personal experience to give you nine tips you can actually use.
For a healthy relationship…
1. Set common goals
Setting common goals in a relationship is a great way to bond and enhance communication. Plus, when you set a common goal, you are more likely to achieve it. But ensure that your goals are in alignment with your values. Create a plan and agree to work on it equally to make your goal happen. And don’t forget to celebrate the milestones along the way.
2. Stay interested in your partner
Strive to make your significant other feel valued and understood. Show interest in their feelings, passions, wishes, or ongoing projects. We all want to be heard and seen, especially by our loved ones. Staying interested in your partner is an essential aspect of a healthy relationship.
3. Be generous with affection
Make showing affection part of your daily routines. There are so many ways you can show affection in a relationship that don’t require over the top actions. It could be a gentle touch, a soft kiss, a hug, a kind smile, a loving look etc. This tip offers instant benefits. Try it, and you’ll know what I mean.
4. Have realistic expectations
When two strangers come together to form a couple, there’s bound to be differences. And as a relationship progresses, they turn into “nagging differences”. You know, the ones we nag each other about on a frequent basis. Areas like cleanliness, organization, housework, and errands are just a few. Whatever it is you expect from your partner, make sure it’s realistic and it truly matters. Unrealistic expectations are a source of conflict.
5. Learn to listen more
Nothing is more frustrating than trying to get your point across to a person who won’t hear you out. And we are all guilty of it sometimes. When your partner speaks to you, make eye contact, lean in, and nod to let them know you are listening. Look for cues that tell you when to interject without talking over them.
6. Schedule lots of mini dates
As relationships progress, it’s important to continue dating each other. Yet, life gets so busy that we forget to make it a priority. While having a date night sounds very romantic, for a lot of us it doesn’t happen often enough. Instead, you can schedule daily mini dates. A mini date can take place anywhere, and anytime the two of you are alone. You can snuggle on the couch, flirt up a storm, have dessert after dark, take a walk etc. Get creative!
7. Don’t assume or judge
Aren’t we all quick to make assumptions? When we assume things about people, or what they say, we create an image of them that isn’t always accurate. This is where good listening skills come in handy. The right way to listen is to process information free of judgement. Be an example of empathy your partner will want to follow. It will come with extraordinary benefits.
8. Never use the silent treatment
The silent treatment is one of the most damaging conflict resolution techniques you can use in a relationship. But that doesn’t mean you have to participate in heated fights without retracting. Sometimes, stepping away from an argument when upset leads to a better outcome. However, if you withdraw, sulk, and ignore your partner for days, that is the silent treatment. Avoid it at all cost.
9. Don’t focus on defeating your partner
Oftentimes, we turn average fights into a competition of olympic proportions. We place so much emphasis on who is right, who is wrong, and who should win, that we forget what we’re even trying to achieve. Rather than focusing on coming out the winner at the end of a disagreement, focus on its importance. Is it worth fighting for? And what difference does it even make whether you win or lose? None. At the end of the day, you both want the best for each other, you just see things differently. Embrace your differences, and learn to let go of the little stuff. Agree to disagree more often.
Relationships are complex, but they don’t have to be hard. If you actively invest in the health of your relationship, it will become your greatest source of joy.