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I’m often asked how do I know if I’m in a healthy relationship or for advice on building healthy relationships. Forming those bonds of trust, love, and true intimacy takes time and a real effort. Nothing ever happens overnight. For any relationship to grow and remain strong, it needs to be built on solid foundations and requires each of you to practice daily habits.
Communication is vital for a healthy love relationship. But not everyone knows how to properly communicate. Some people will actually shut down when it comes to communication because they are either afraid to make waves, or they just expect their partner to know what’s on their mind. Don’t be that person. Open and honest communication is necessary to build a healthy relationship with your partner. Vocalizing your love and appreciation for one another, and openly discussing the bad instead of hoping it will disappear is also necessary.
If you want your relationship with your partner to flourish you need to be able to talk about your feelings, regardless how akward or uncomfortable it may be at times.
When communicating your feelings to your partner, dig deep and get to your true feelings. Often times we communicate from the top layer emotions like anger and annoyance. When we lead from our top level emotions we end up creating confusion, defensiveness, and ultimately we end up distracting from the real issues. When you’re communicating your feelings to your partner, dig deeper and uncover the feelings that are really driving your reactions. Feelings like rejection, disrespect, lonliness, etc.
When you lead with bottom layer emotions it instantly creates an environment of empathy between you because it requires you to be honest and vulnerable and share from the heart instead of ego. It also creates a non-reactive environment where solutions can be found.
When we can communicate in this way, it helps us to understand our partners. We don’t necessarily have to agree with things but in a reactive state, each partner can only listen long enough to validate that they were right and the other was wrong. We should never seek to make our partner wrong. It breaks down the foundations of trust and begins to close the lines of communication between us.
Also in line with healthy communication it is important for both of you to be able to ask for what you want. We can never assume that our partners should know what we want. When we do this it sets up unachievable expectations which in turn has us questioning the viability of our relationship when those expectations are unmet. Asking for what you want extends to everything from emotional to sexual wants. Be open and clear with your needs so your significant other has the opportunity to meet them for you.
Respecting your partner comes in many forms. We need to respect our partner’s time, heart, character, and trust. Things like name-calling, talking negatively about your partner to friends and family, and threatening to leave the relationship all break down the respect in a relationship.
Quality Time, Not Quantity
It doesn’t matter how much time you and your partner spend together, It’s the quality of the time that counts. Sitting down to a table together for dinner and talking about your day or other important issues does not have the same impact as sitting together in front of the tv while eating. There is less engagement in the latter.
Think about the things you used to do together when you first started dating. What was it that really fired the two of you up? Even in long-term relationships it’s important to never lose the ‘dating’ aspect. Just because you have your partner, doesn’t mean you can just relax. You need to always be trying to win them the same way you were in the beginning. To maintain a deep connection with one another you focus should be on the quality of the time spent together.
Break out of your routines. If every Tuesday is taco tuesday then your relationship has become boring and mundane. Switch it up a bit. Commit to a regular date night and alternate back and forth as to who is in charge of coming up with the date. If you’re lost for ideas then google ‘cheap date ideas’ or ‘fun date night ideas’. Get creative and keep the passion alive between you.
No two people can spend 24/7 together and still maintain a [supreme kwid=1800 kw=”how to save my relationship” url=”http://www.divinitymagazine.com/savearelationship/” cpfl=false]healthy relationship. Overtime you are going to begin to feel suffocated and resentment will set in. When you spend every waking moment together then you know everything about the other person’s day. What’s left to talk about? Spending too much time together also creates unhealthy codependencies.
Each of you needs to be able to do your own thing. Spend time apart with friends and doing things that you like to do individually. Maintain healthy boundaries and some autonomy to make the relationship a long lasting partnership.
Each of us has different ways of feeling loved and believe it or not, your partner probably has a different way to feel loved than you do. Some people need to be told they are loved, others require gifts, some need to be touched or caressed in a certain way in order to feel loved. It’s important that you know what makes your partner feel loved. Don’t just assume you know the answer because often times we are wrong.
Not knowing how your partner prefers to receive love opens the doors to fights, disagreements, and the feelings of lonliness. How many times have you heard someone say, “I don’t think he/she loves me anymore.” One partner may be doing everything that they think is right to show the other that they love them but the one on the receiving end isn’t seeing it because they have different expectations of what constitutes love to them.
For my partner he may simply need to hear me tell him daily that I love him. For me, however, I need that touch; the hug, the kisses, the intimate moments together. When our needs are not being met on the level that we need them to be met, we begin to drift apart and feel unloved when in reality a simple remedy is just to ask your partner outright how they receive love and then give it to them consistently.
A little appreciation goes a long way. We live in a fast paced environment where our lives are often inundated with so many things that at the end of the day we just want to calm the ‘noise’ and escape. In those moments we tend to take things for granted and little things go unnoticed. We tend to forget to let the other person in our lives know that we appreciate them. Tell your partner how much you appreciate them in your life. Tell them you appreciate the things they do for you. And it doesn’t have to be done simply with words. You can do it in a card, or with flowers, write them a letter, or perform little actions that show them how much you appreciate their time, effort, patience, understanding, friendship, commitment, and love.
Don’t Make Your Partner Wrong
Have you ever caught yourself looking at your partner and you find the littlest things just annoy the crap out of you? Something that you used to find endearing in the beginning of your relationship suddenly becomes so incredibly annoying you actually contemplate physical violence inside your head.
No one is perfect. We all have our little foibles. Constantly concentrating on the negative can only bring about more negative. When we hear nothing more than everything we are doing wrong in life or in our relationships it leaves us feeling defeated and unwilling to change. It creates resentments and built up tensions. No one wants to feel like that. Instead of focusing on the bad, make a conscious effort to look at the good. And understand that I’m not saying that if your partner is abusive, has an alcohol or drug addiction, or can’t remain faithful in your relationship that you should avoid that by seeking out the positive. If you’re facing those things I’d advise you to leave the relationship and learn to have a healthy relationship with yourself first before entering another relationship.
But if you and your partner are generally good people who truly want to be together, then spend more time concentrating on their good qualities. Those qualities that you fell in love with in the beginning. Fall in love with those qualities all over again. You’ll be surprised by how much of an impact it can make on your overall relationship.
Choose Your Battles
Every good relationship is going to have its ups and downs and there are going to be fights. But it’s critical to bring your issues to the forefront and discuss them as adults. And by that I’m not suggesting that everything requires a discussion or a fight. If you’re going to fight over the fact that he left the toothpaste cap off or she used your favorite coffee cup, then you need to grow up and learn to pick your battles more wisely. Discussing the more important and worthy issues is one thing, nit-picking and bitching about everything else is a quick trip to a single life.
Sex: Get Your Freak On
Sex is important in a healthy relationship. Not only is it important for your relationship health, it is also proven to have actual health benefits. Sex can relieve tension and headaches, and having it on an average of three times a week can actually knock ten years off of your internal health and make your body run better.
Think back to when you first started dating. You were jumping each other at every opportunity, often times more than 3 times per day. When you were out in public you couldn’t wait to be alone so you could rip each other’s clothes off. The desire and passion was intense and raw. I know couples who are still like this 10 and 20 years into their relationships, and I know others who after 6 months together are looking at each other asking what happened to the fire.
Sex is simple. The more you have it, the more you want it. The less you have it, the less you want it. The less you have it, the less you feel connected to your partner. Sexual contact and touching (kissing, holding hands, cuddling, etc) are vital components of a romantic relationship. Polarity and dancing energies need to be released. Women were made to be sexual, seductive, goddess and men were made to accomodate those energies. Don’t wait for your partner to initiate… walk out of the bedroom is something sexy and see how long it takes him to suddenly get in the mood. Take the reins and seduce your partner regularly. Send them sexy texts during the day while you are apart and tell them what you want to do to them when you’re alone. Build the sexual tensions throughout the day and then explode together later on. Explore new things together. Spice it up and be creative.
Don’t let your sex life become routine and boring. If you’re always in the bedroom and doing missionary then you seriously need a wake up call. Grab a book on the Kama Sutra, google how to spice up your sex life. Men don’t assume that what turned her on in the beginning will work for the next 20 years. Get on the internet and learn new things, step up your A-game and blow her mind. The point is to keep your sex life fresh and alive and happening. And don’t just have sex for the sake of having sex. Love your partner with everything you have. When we love our partners this way it creates a strong physical and emotional bond that can’t be touched by the outside world.
Do Not Make Comparisons
Remain present within your relationship. Don’t be comparing your relationship to the other ones you see around you. Looks can be deceiving and the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. They may use different fertilizer on the other side of that fence so don’t let that fertilizer taint your relationship.
The happiest and most fulfilled couples don’t compare their relationships to others. They commit their focus to keeping the grass green within their own gardens. If your relationship isn’t what you want it to be, explore new ways to get it there.
Have a Long-term Mindset
This is actually number 11 but it’s important. In our society today relationships have become like a drive-thru event. One day we are in love and happy and the next, we’re looking for ways to get out. It’s no wonder that 50% of all marriages end in divorce, or that the rate of marriages has actually declined considerable. People would rather shack up together and see how it goes.
We have given ourselves an easy out, a way to end it and move on to the next. There is no real long-term commitment anymore. It’s time to change the mindset and adopt a long-term mindset. Relationships should not be a numbers count. Instead they should be a bridge to something long-term and permanent. Remove the easy out option and commit to fixing things at all cost. If you’re mad at your partner, take them in the bedroom and work it out. Don’t come out until you do. If you can’t work it out together, seek outside help and advice. Giving up is easy and cowardly. Sticking around through the good, bad, and the ugly takes real love and commitment.
If you want to have a healthy relationship I invite you to adopt these 11 habits of happy couples into your life. I’ve just outlined what it takes to have a healthy relationship at any age. Set aside your ego and approach them from a place of love and compassion and marvel in the ways your relationship will transform when you begin to apply these habits within your own relationship.