Here are 8 Ways to Keep Your Relationship Going Strong
Relationships take a lot of effort to maintain a good connection. This is especially true if you have been with your partner for an extended period of time. A healthy, loving relationship needs continual care and attention like a blossoming flower. Once you stop taking care of the relationship, it can deteriorate and fade away. This leaves you feeling disconnected from your partner. In order to have a healthy and happy relationship, couples must know how to deal with the ups and downs. So how exactly is that done?
Communicate openly with one another and work to be attentive during these conversations.
One significant thing that can lead to disconnection quickly in a relationship; it is not communicating with radical honesty, hiding parts of yourself, or not sharing truthfully with each other. I'm sure you've heard it sold as the best marriage advice…and that's because it still stands today! Healthy and happy couples do not avoid conflict. Conflict can be uncomfortable but can also help bring you together and learn new things about each other. Doing so will also bring you closer and make you feel more committed to one another. Most people were not taught how to communicate growing up. Everyone expresses themselves differently, so learning about your partner's communication styles can help navigate complex topics like parenting or particular unmet needs in the relationship. Set aside time regularly to talk about your day and what's been hard for you or your partner. Tell them whatever is on your mind. Do so without distractions from TV, phones, or other people. Work to be present, be honest, and reflect on what you hear from your partner.
Don't forget to take your relationship in for "maintenance"…just like you would your car.
On occasion, individuals let their relationships go onto cruise control and forget to "check-in" with how each of you feels emotionally, like checking your pose. Relationships do occasionally need regular tune-ups. Examine what is working for you, what is not working, and what you both can do to strengthen the thread that holds you together. Do you wish you spent more alone time together? Do you share the household work? Discuss any changes in your relationship and be willing to compromise as you both are on the same team. Focus on being practical and not being "right" in every situation.
Let go of old issues.
Everyone has baggage. If a new romantic partner says, they don't…RUN! ;) Be mindful that we all make mistakes. No one is perfect. Talk about the things that are old wounds that are hard to let go of. Talk about your fears related to the relationship if you continue to feel hurt by an old issue. Work to communicate this feeling and what you need from your partner to help heal from this hurt. Bringing up past mistakes or faults of your partner will cause more conflict and lead to more significant disconnection within the relationship. Work to own your feelings and do your best to describe how your partner can help make this better. Ask yourself what you need from your partner and what you might need to do.
Get to know and accept the important people in your partner's life.
There may be people in your partner's life that you might not like. Expressing distaste for these individuals will only pull you further apart. Instead, commit to getting to know the important people in your partner's life. This may be a close coworker, childhood friend, neighbor, family member, or friend group. Remember, you don't have to love everyone around you, but if these are essential people in your partner's life. Having a cordial relationship with them will be necessary as the relationship grows. Being on good terms with your partner's essential people also shows commitment to the relationship that you care about the same things they do and align with the people they value in their lives.
Commit to spending individual time doing an activity "just for you" outside of the relationship.
This could be: going on a girl's trip once a year, taking an afternoon to golf with friends, joining a volleyball league, going for a bike ride, taking the dog for a walk, or maybe spending a weekend doing your favorite activity alone, going to happy hour with friends once a month, or going trivia night with your friends. Sometimes people think that doing things "outside of your relationship" means you don't love or care for the other person. But, in actuality: having individual activities that you enjoy just for yourself can help keep you grounded in your sense of self, maintain happiness and longevity in a relationship and help you continue to have positive energy to pour into the relationship.
Be FAIR and RESPECTFUL when you fight or have a conflict.
Conflict is inevitable in all relationships. Fighting is not "bad" in itself, and research shows that healthy conflict can help a relationship grow as you work through various aspects of the relationship and learn different sides about your partner that you may not have known before. Knowing "how" to fight is a crucial aspect of any relationship. Things like name-calling, calling out another person's character flaws, belittling your partner, bringing up the past, and putting the other down are all unhelpful when fighting with one another. Instead, work to maintain a level of respect for each other. The golden rule of "treat someone as you would want to be treated" applies here. If you wouldn't want your partner calling you names, don't call them names even if you are upset or angry. This will only pull your partner farther from you and lead to disconnection and hurt feelings.
Celebrate the "small things" in life.
There is no doubt that life can get crazy busy. We tend to focus on ourselves and make it through the day when we are stressed. But taking time to pause and reflect on the small accomplishments in each other's lives can help bring you back together to what matters in life. A new promotion at a job? A personal win for your partner? Surviving a problematic parenting challenge? Your partner made the bed without asking? Make time to vocalize your appreciation for your partner. If you feel positively towards your partner: share it! All people want to be seen/heard. The more you notice and appreciate the little things that bring you together and how proud you are of each other. This genuine source of positivity can lead to many incredible things together!
Keep your expectations of each other realistic.
No one person can meet all of our needs all the time. In healthy relationships, people accept their partner's flaws, downfalls, and mistakes and know they can't change the other person. But we can work together to find out what works for one another.
According to relationship researcher John Gottman, happy couples have a ratio of 5 positive interactions or feelings for every 1 negative interaction or feeling. Work to express warmth, affection, and positivity towards your partner. Work to verbalize the kind deeds that you do for each other. Don't ASSUME the other person knows you care about them. Work to express this through words.
To find out more on keeping your relationship strong or working with Lindsey Kingsley for couples counseling. Please schedule an appointment with me below!