We all want our relationships to be successful, but often, they are not, for various reasons. It feels so completely wonderful to be in a strong, healthy relationship. Having a healthy, happy relationship makes life so much better! It reduces stress associated with everyday life, and creates a place of comfort. Coming home to someone who you know loves and cares for you can turn even the worst days into the best ones. These principles will help to build stronger relationships.
1. Talk about problems.
Communication is key in relationships, we all enjoy talking about good things, but often, we keep negative thoughts bottled up until they explode into an emotional outburst, which is harmful to any relationship. Talk about problems when both you and your partner are calm and relaxed. The key is to discuss calmly, and approach the issue rationally, not emotionally. Often you find that something was a misunderstanding, and not actually a problem at all. Willingness to discuss problems communicates that you value the relationship and respect your partner enough to listen to and consider his/her point of view.
2. Focus on the solution, not the problem.
This means do not blame, accuse or otherwise incriminate one another. Remember, we all make mistakes, but no one likes to be yelled at or hurt by someone they love. It’s okay to let them know something is wrong, but do so respectfully by saying something like “I want to make sure that we are being financially responsible so that we can save for X, but I think we need to come up with a plan to not spend so much,” rather than immediately blaming your partner. Never bring up the past unless it is directly related to the problem you are trying to solve- this will automatically put someone in defensive mode. We have all made mistakes in the past. The past is over- remember you are working toward the future. Approaching the problem with a solution-driven mindset communicates that you are in this together, and that you are willing to work together to build a better future.
3.Know one another’s limits.
My husband is a morning person. I am an absolute monster in the morning before I have coffee. My husband knows this and we don’t talk before coffee. It’s better for everyone. He, on the other hand, likes ten to fifteen minutes to chill out when he comes home from work before anyone talks to him. I am the opposite, I want all the hugs as soon as I come home! Even though our perspectives differ in these regards, we both know and respect each other’s boundaries, and give one another the space we need.
4. Never speak negatively about your partner.
What we say often carries more weight than we realize, even if we think we don’t actually mean it. The more you say something, the more you start to believe it yourself. Even a seemingly harmless phrase like: “You wouldn’t believe what my stupid husband did this morning,” will absolutely take a toll on your relationship the more it’s repeated.
5. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
If your partner slurps his or her coffee in the morning, or accidentally throws a sock on the floor instead of in the hamper, just let it go. It will help both of you to be more relaxed and comfortable around one another. There are few feelings more stressful than feeling like you’re walking on eggshells all the time- being at the receiving end of this is miserable, and is hurtful to the relationship. Relationships should feel safe, like a haven from the busy, hectic, and stressful world outside. Antagonizing will create more stress, which is the exact opposite direction a healthy relationship should go toward.
7. Do things together (by mutual agreement)
Try doing each other’s favorite things. If one person likes playing video games, snowboarding, fishing or golf, why not give it an honest, open-minded try? You might love it, then you would have a way to spend time together that you both enjoy. If you don’t like it, try not to be negative about it- you wouldn’t like someone putting down your passion, so don’t do it to someone you love. Just say it’s not your thing, and leave it at that. On the flip side, do not drag your partner away from something they enjoy and into something that only you enjoy- this is disrespectful and will only create hostility. Find things that you are both passionate about and make time for them, but also remember to give your partner time to pursue his or her passion, even if it is not one you both share.
8. Dare to be different.
Every couple is different, not everyone enjoys doing the same things together, and everyone relates to one another differently. The media fills our brains with images of what a relationship should be, and maybe for some people, sitcom relationships work, but they do not work for everyone. Recognize that your relationship is unscripted, unique and special. Be true to who you are, and be true to one another. If getting married in Vegas, or having Dad stay at home with the kids while Mom works, is what makes the most sense for your relationship and your family, then do it and forget what anyone else says about it. Do what makes you happy! It’s your life, not theirs.
9. Always Kiss Goodnight.
…and say “I love you,” even if you’re angry (and sometimes you will be). If there is one thing I have learned through life experience, it’s that life can give us beautiful and happy moments with someone, but it can take that someone away in a tragic moment quickly and unexpectedly. Make an effort to always make the best of your time together. Always remember to tell your partner that you love him or her before they leave or go to sleep, no matter what. Making this effort also reminds your loved one that you care, and no matter how crazy life is, that there is always time to say I love you.
A relationship is a journey. Don’t expect it to always be perfect, and strive to generate solutions to obstacles in your path rather than just stumbling through them. Know and accept that there will be challenges, but the strongest relationships aren’t those that don’t have challenges. The strongest relationships are those that face challenges, and emerge stronger than ever. You are on this path together, so be there to support and love one another, and never, ever harm one another.