10 Habits to Keep Your Relationship Healthy and Happy
You want the best relationship you can get. We all do. You probably know, too, that it takes work.
Romantic evenings at the beach or being tucked into a corner of nearby Flora Restaurant and Bar with your partner are lovely. Grand promises and high hopes are nice to hear.
But these 10 solid, relationship-boosting habits will go a much longer way to keeping your love healthy and whole. Here’s how to start making happy happen on a regular basis:
1. Prioritize your partner.
People do what they want to do. Your partner knows this. Show him or her that your list of to do’s and have-to’s come second to your relationship.
Snuggle for a few minutes every morning before heading for coffee and the job. Put away the tablets, laptops, smartphones, and the remote to focus on your partner’s day when you come home. Go to bed together. Schedule date nights and getaways. Always put loving connection first on the list.
2. Notice. Listen. Listen again. Respond (thoughtfully).
Basically, pay attention to your partner. Communicate carefully and compassionately. Turn to your partner, look intently, and lean in. Engage your brain. What you say to each other matters.
Resist the effect that familiarity can have on communication. Say “I love you” often and mean it. Build time to talk into every day for a happier union. Make sharing a safe and attentive process so that you both feel heard and genuinely understood.
3. Respect your love and your lover.
You love your partner. You put time and energy into finding each other, wooing each other, and building a life together. That deserves the utmost respect.
As you both respond to life’s challenges, respect for each other may be tested. Don’t allow circumstances, disappointments, or unresolved tensions to seed resentment, judgment, or contempt in your relationship. Avoid name calling, put downs, or condescension. Maintain that passive aggression and the silent treatment are unacceptable. Keep communication safe and honest. Healthy couples don’t hurt each other.
4. Hug. Stroke. Hold. Kiss. Pat. Squeeze. (Repeat)
You need to touch each other. Good touches. Comforting, loving, and sexy touches. Don’t hold back because you’re angry or sad or busy. Do it anyway. Your bodies long to be connected, it feels good emotionally and physically. It soothes stress and strengthens your bonds. Close couples find ways to be close.
5. Align your paths.
Happy couples do life together. Be intentional about cultivating similar interests. Stay your own person but also keep developing shared goals and dreams. Check in regularly to be sure you’re on the same page. If not, don’t get frustrated, get creative. Find new ways to build your future together.
6. Play with your partner.
Seriously dedicate yourselves to having fun as a couple. Do whatever you can to thoroughly enjoy life together. After all you didn’t come together to bore each other to death. It doesn’t take much.
Play like kids. Go on bike rides or hikes. Play board games, eat ice cream, and watch scary movie marathons.
Play like grown ups. Make more time for lovemaking. Spice up the intimacy between you. Libidos change over time and so do our sexual needs. Invent new things to try. Need help finding the way to explore new things? A lot of people do. Call a therapist who specializes in it and have fun.
7. Accept your partner openly and unconditionally.
Love feels good to us because it feels like we belong. We fit. We’re wanted. Happy couples work at keeping that feeling going. Find ways to actively accept and connect. Make your relationship a safe place to be yourselves without criticism or correction. Accentuate the positive.
8. Support and celebrate each other.
Appreciate the opportunity to have your partner’s back. A push in the right direction or pat on the back from you should be encouragement and accolades your partner can rely on.
Be a team of two. Wear matching T-shirts. Throw each other parties. Whatever it takes to communicate to each other that you’re in this life together.
9. Plan for fights, flare-ups, and fall-out.
Relationships and conflicts are companions. They go together. Healthy couples realize this and negotiate their differences rather than avoid them or make them obstacles in their relationship. Sometimes this means setting ground rules, sometimes this means having long discussions, sometimes this means allowing room for respectful disagreement.
Sometimes it means couples counseling. Conflict is okay if you develop a management plan.
10. Forgive and move forward.
Sooner or later, you or your spouse will really mess things up. How you handle that will determine how fast you can get back to happiness. Successful couples are successful because they allow each other to be human. You’ll do well to face mistakes and missteps honestly.
Then, forgive them promptly for the sake of the good thing you have together: your future.
To keep your relationship healthy and happy, remember to build habits based in loving effort and sincere appreciation for the opportunity to love your partner. In time, loving well and living happily will become second nature.