Building a healthy relationship
All romantic relationships go through ups and downs and require work, commitment, and a willingness to adapt and change with your partner. But whether your relationship is just beginning or you’ve been together for years, there are steps you can take to build a healthy relationship. Even if you have experienced many failed relationships in the past or have struggled before to rekindle the fires of romance in your current relationship, you can learn to stay connected, find satisfaction, and enjoy lasting happiness.
What makes a relationship healthy?
Each relationship is unique, and people come together for many different reasons. Part of what defines a healthy relationship is sharing a common goal for exactly what you want the relationship to be and where you want it to go. And that’s something you will only know by speaking deeply and honestly with your partner. However, there are also some characteristics that most healthy relationships have in common. Knowing these core principles can help make your relationship meaningful, fulfilling, and exciting, regardless of the goals you work for or the challenges you face together.
They maintain a significant emotional connection with each other. Each makes the other feel loved and emotionally satisfied. There is a difference between being loved and feeling loved. When you feel loved, it makes you feel accepted and valued by your partner, as if someone really caught you. Some relationships become stuck in peaceful coexistence, but without couples truly relating to each other emotionally. While the bond may appear stable on the surface, the lack of continued engagement and emotional connection only serves to add distance between two people.
You are not afraid of disagreement (respectful). Some couples speak quietly, while others may raise their voices and passionately disagree. However, the key to a strong relationship is not to be afraid of conflict. You must feel safe to express the things that bother you without fear of retaliation, and be able to resolve conflicts without humiliation, degradation, or insisting on being right.
You keep external relationships and interests alive. Despite claims to romantic fiction or movies, no one person can meet all of their needs. In fact, expecting too much from your partner can put unhealthy pressure on a relationship. To stimulate and enrich your romantic relationship, it is important to keep your own identity out of the relationship, preserve connections with family and friends, and maintain your hobbies and interests.
You communicate openly and honestly. Good communication is a key part of any relationship. When both people know what they want from the relationship and are comfortable expressing their needs, fears, and desires, it can increase trust and strengthen the bond between you.
Falling in love vs. stay in love
For most people, falling in love usually seems to happen. Staying in love, or preserving that experience of “falling in love,” requires commitment and work. However, given its rewards, it is well worth the effort. A healthy and safe romantic relationship can serve as an ongoing source of support and happiness in your life, through good times and bad, strengthening all aspects of your well-being. By taking steps now to preserve or rekindle your infatuation experience, you can build a meaningful relationship that lasts, even for a lifetime.
Many couples focus on their relationship only when there are specific and inevitable problems to overcome. Once problems are resolved, they often turn their attention to their careers, children, or other interests. However, romantic relationships require continued care and commitment for love to flourish. As long as the health of a romantic relationship remains important to you, it will require your attention and effort. And identifying and fixing a small problem in your relationship now can often help prevent it from becoming a much bigger one in the future. The following tips can help you preserve that infatuation experience and keep your romantic relationship healthy.
Tip 1: Spend quality time face to face
You fall in love looking at you and listening to you. By continuing to watch and listen in the same attentive way, you can keep the infatuation experience long-term. You probably have fond memories of when you first dated your loved one. Everything seemed new and exciting, and you probably spent hours just chatting together or inventing new and exciting things to try. However, as time passes, the demands of work, family, other obligations, and the need we all have for ourselves can make it more difficult to find time to be together.
Many couples find that face-to-face contact on their first dating days is gradually replaced by rushed text messages, emails, and instant messages. While digital communication is great for some purposes, it doesn’t have a positive impact on your brain and nervous system in the same way that face-to-face communication does. Sending a text or voice message to your partner saying “I love you” is great, but if you rarely look at them or have time to sit together, you will still feel like you don’t understand or appreciate them. And they will become more distant or disconnected as a couple. The emotional cues both of you need to feel loved can only be passed on in person, so no matter how busy life is, it’s important to make time to spend together.
Make a commitment to spend quality time together on a regular basis. No matter how busy you are, take a few minutes each day to put your electronic devices aside, stop thinking about other things, and really focus and connect with your partner.
Find something they enjoy doing together, whether it’s a shared hobby, a dance class, a daily walk, or sitting down for a cup of coffee in the morning.
Try something new together. Doing new things together can be a fun way to connect and keep things interesting. It can be as simple as trying a new restaurant or taking a day trip to a place you’ve never been before.
Focus on having fun together. Couples tend to be more fun and playful in the early stages of a relationship. However, this playful attitude can sometimes be forgotten as life’s challenges begin to interfere or old resentments begin to build up. Maintaining a sense of humor can help you get through tough times, reduce stress, and solve problems more easily. Think of fun ways to surprise your partner, like bringing flowers home or unexpectedly reserving a table at their favorite restaurant. Playing with pets or young children can also help you reconnect with your playful side.
Tip 2: Stay connected through communication
Young woman sitting by the bed smiling while gesturing towards her partner. Good communication is a fundamental part of a healthy relationship. When you experience a positive emotional connection with your partner, you feel safe and happy. When people stop communicating well, they stop relating well, and times of change or stress can really trigger disconnection. It may seem simplistic, but while you are communicating, you can usually solve whatever problem you are facing.
Tell your partner what you need, don’t make him guess.
It is not always easy to talk about what you need. For one thing, many of us don’t spend enough time thinking about what’s really important to us in a relationship. And even if you know what you need, talking about it can make you feel vulnerable, embarrassed, or even embarrassed. But look at it from your partner’s point of view. Bringing comfort and understanding to someone you love is a pleasure, not a burden.
If you’ve known each other for a while, you can assume that your partner has a pretty good idea of what he’s thinking and what he needs. However, your partner is not a mind reader. Although your partner may have an idea, it is much healthier to express your needs directly to avoid confusion. Your partner may feel something, but it may not be what you need. Also, people change, and what you needed and wanted five years ago, for example, can be very different now. So instead of letting resentment, misunderstanding, or anger build when your partner continually makes a mistake, get in the habit of telling him exactly what you need.
Take note of your partner’s nonverbal cues
Much of our communication is transmitted by what we do not say. Nonverbal cues, which include eye contact, tone of voice, posture, and gestures like leaning forward, crossing your arms, or touching someone’s hand, communicate much more than words. When you can pick up on your partner’s nonverbal cues or “body language”, you can tell how they really feel and respond accordingly. For a relationship to work well, each person has to understand their own and their partner’s non-verbal cues. Your partner’s responses may be different from yours. For example, one person may find a hug after a stressful day, a loving mode of communication, while another person simply wants to walk together or sit down and chat.
It is also important to make sure that what you say matches your body language. If you say “I’m fine” but you grit your teeth and look away, then your body is clearly indicating that you’re not “fine”.
When you experience positive emotional signals from your partner, you feel loved and happy, and when you send positive emotional signals, your partner feels the same. When you stop being interested in your own or your partner’s emotions, it will damage the connection between you and your communication capacity will be affected, especially in stressful moments.
Be a good listener
While there is a lot of emphasis in our society on speaking, if you can learn to listen in a way that makes someone else feel valued and understood, you can build a deeper and stronger connection between yourself. There is a big difference between listening this way and just listening. When you really listen, when you are committed to what is said, you will hear the subtle intonations in your partner’s voice that tell you how they really feel and the emotions they are trying to communicate. Being a good listener does not mean that you have to agree with your partner or change your mind. But it will help you find common points of view that can help you resolve conflicts.
Tip 3: Keep physical intimacy alive
Touch is a fundamental part of human existence. Baby studies have shown the importance of regular, caring contact for brain development. And the benefits don’t end in childhood. Loving contact increases the body’s levels of oxytocin, a hormone that influences bonding and attachment.
While sex is often the cornerstone of a committed relationship, it shouldn’t be the only method of physical intimacy. Frequent and affective contact (holding hands, hugging, kissing) is equally important.
Of course, it is important to be sensitive to what your partner likes. Unwanted touches or inappropriate overtures can make the other person tense and pull out, exactly what you don’t want. As with many other aspects of a healthy relationship, this may be due to how well you communicate your needs and intentions with your partner.
Even if you have to worry about workloads or young children to worry about, you can help keep physical intimacy alive by spending a couple of regular hours, whether in the form of an evening date or just an hour at the end of the day when you can sit and talk or hold hands.
Tip 4: Learn to give and receive in your relationship
If you hope to get what you want 100% of the time in a relationship, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Healthy relationships are based on commitment. However, it takes work on the part of each person to make sure there is a reasonable exchange.
Recognize what is important to your partner
Knowing what is really important to your partner can go a long way towards generating goodwill and an atmosphere of commitment. On the other hand, it is also important that your partner recognizes your wishes and expresses them clearly. Constantly giving to others at the expense of your own needs will only generate resentment and anger.
Don’t “win” your goal
If you approach your partner with the attitude that things have to be your way or else, it will be difficult to reach a compromise. Sometimes this attitude comes from not meeting your needs when you were younger, or it could be years of pent-up resentment in the relationship that reaches a boiling point. It’s okay to have strong convictions about something, but your partner also deserves to be heard. Be respectful of the other person and their point of view.
Learn to respectfully resolve conflicts
Conflict is inevitable in any relationship, but to maintain a strong relationship, both people need to feel that they have been heard. The goal is not to win but to maintain and strengthen the relationship.
Make sure you are fighting fairly. Stay focused on the topic at hand and respect the other person. Don’t start discussions about things that can’t be changed.
Don’t attack someone directly, but use “I” statements to communicate how you feel. For example, instead of saying, “You make me feel bad,” try “I feel bad when you do that.”
Don’t drag old arguments into the mix. Instead of looking for past conflicts or grudges and assigning blame, focus on what you can do here and now to solve the problem.
Be willing to forgive. Resolving conflicts is impossible if you do not want or cannot forgive others.
If your spirits burn, take a break. Take a few minutes to relieve stress and calm down before saying or doing anything you will regret. Always remember that you are arguing with the person you love.
Know when to let something go. If you can’t reach an agreement, agree to disagree. Two people are needed to have a discussion. If a conflict is going nowhere, you can choose to disconnect and move on.
Tip 5: Prepare for ups and downs
It is important to recognize that there are ups and downs in every relationship. You will not always be on the same page. Sometimes a couple may be struggling with a stressful problem, such as the death of a close relative. Other events, such as the loss of a job or serious health problems, can affect both couples and hinder the relationship between them. You may have different ideas for managing finances or raising children. Different people handle stress differently, and misunderstandings can quickly turn into frustration and anger.
Do not eliminate your problems with your partner. The stress of life can make us feel bad. If you’re dealing with a lot of stress, it may seem easier to let off steam with your partner, and even feel more confident about hitting them. Fighting like this may initially seem like a release, but it slowly poisons your relationship. Find other, healthier ways to manage stress, anger, and frustration.
Trying to force a solution can cause even more problems. Each person works through problems and problems in their own way. Remember that you are a team. Continuing to move forward together can help you through difficult times.
Look back at the early stages of your relationship. Share the moments that brought the two of you together, examine the point where you started to break up, and figure out how you can work together to rekindle that infatuation experience.
Be open to change. Change is inevitable in life, and it will happen whether you go with him or fight him. Flexibility is essential to adapt to the change that always takes place in any relationship, and allows you to grow together in both the good and the bad.
If you need outside help for your relationship, contact us together. Sometimes relationship problems can seem too complex or overwhelming for you to handle as a couple. Couples therapy or talking to a trusted friend or religious figure can help.