Television shows and movies tend to depict romantic relationships as easy-going unions involving two people who rarely have conflict. In reality, while most couples strive to have happy, world-stopping romances, no one can have a “perfect” relationship at all times. In today’s stressful and volatile world, cultivating positive and healthy relationships is becoming more and more challenging. Couples are facing big trials and small tribulations. Now, more than ever, it’s time to take a look at our personal relationships and work towards strengthening those special bonds.
Like any other major, worldwide events, the COVID-19 crisis has forever changed our routines and the way we see life. It has also reshaped our romantic relationships. As several nations across the world slowly emerge from lockdown, we reflect on the way we’ve been separated from our loved ones or been obliged to live in close proximity with our partners. Every experience has been unique, but it has raised some concerns.
For some, the high confinement has created tensions and caused serious conflict. In March, for example, China saw a dramatic peak in divorce requests. Something similar has happened in other European nations.
However, this is not something exclusive of the current health emergency. Romantic relationships are hard work. With everything going around you — your career, children, hobbies, and personal goals — it’s easy to lose sight of how much you care about your significant other. Especially when you’re going through a rough patch.
5 Tips to Cultivate Healthy Relationships
No person is an island. As human beings, we feel the need to bond and share our lives with others. This is not a myth. In fact, several studies support the idea that healthy romantic relationships can have positive benefits for your health. Researchers from Cornell University found that married couples or partners who live together are happier and less likely to experience depression. Another study from the University of Chicago discovered that couples in committed relationships produced less cortisol, the stress hormone.
If you are looking forward to experiencing these and many other positive benefits associated with healthy and loving relationships, there’s a couple of things you can do. Of course, everyone is unique and has their own needs and wishes. However, here are 5 relationship tips that might help you and your partner to strengthen your special bond.
1. Let Go of Small Things
Let’s face it, sometimes you and your partner can get into arguments over small topics. It tends to happen because one of you is in a mood or stressed out at the moment. Small things like a pile of dirty dishes, misplaced items, or what to eat on Friday night can snowball into a verbal altercation.
Whatever the reason for the argument is, sometimes it’s best to pause and ask yourself the following questions. Is this thing worth getting upset over? Is it important at all? Creating problems over issues that can easily be solved just furthers negativity and stress. Excessive stress can not only affect your relationship, but also compromise your physical and mental health.
However, this doesn’t mean you should let everything go. You or your partner have the right to feel upset sometimes. This needs to be addressed in an open and honest way. After all, keeping your thoughts to yourself can lead to your significant-other harboring resentment or feeling insecure. Communication during times like this is crucial to maintaining a happy and healthy relationship.
2. Maintain Good Communication
Without clear communication, it’s difficult to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships. On a daily basis, your partner can bring out a wide array of emotions within you, from joy to frustration, to sadness, and more. People hold in their emotions during relationships for many reasons. And, sometimes, it’s not even a conscious decision. While there are some thoughts that you can keep to yourself, you can’t hide others from your partner.
You aren’t a mind reader and neither is your significant other. If you aren’t honest about your emotions, supporting each other becomes a challenge. The more your partner knows about who you are and what makes you tick, the easier it is for them to be mindful of your needs and feelings, and vice versa. Communicating what’s on your mind or asking your partner what’s on theirs will strengthen your emotional bond creating a stronger sense of intimacy and trust.
3. Keep Intimacy Alive
Romance, passion, and excitement are key components to most long-lasting and healthy relationships. Sex can help couples connect on an emotional, mental, and physical level. Whether you’ve been in a relationship for six months or six years, it never hurts to break out of routine and try something new to keep the spark alive.
When you’re deciding what to try with your partner, make sure you’re emphasizing comfortability and romance. The effort that you put into making sure the night is perfect will show your dedication to your partner’s happiness. As you’re preparing, also try to anticipate things that may disrupt what you have planned.
4. Schedule Some “Me” Time
Sometimes, you just can’t have enough of each other. If your special person is also your best friend, chances are you do everything together. But no matter how tempting that is, try to refrain from doing everything with your significant other and occasionally make time to do some things alone. When you’re constantly with someone and making decisions together, it can wear on your relationship. It translates into tension or unnecessary arguments. It can also create codependency in the relationship resulting in unhealthy habits such as excessive clinginess or constant need for approval from your partner.
Taking time for yourself allows you to put your thoughts and wants first instead of always thinking about someone else. How long or how extravagant your “me” time is, is completely up to you. Perhaps, you want to go out for a jog or just relax at home. Whatever you do, just give yourself the opportunity to focus on your own happiness at the moment. This isn’t a selfish act, rather something that ultimately leads to a healthier relationship.
One important thing to note is to never let your significant other forget how much you love them. Always show your appreciation for them so that they never have to question how you feel. Communication can go a long way. So, prioritize honesty above everything else. If you do, then you can get through any challenges or stressful times together.
5. Be Grateful
Never underestimate the power of the words “thank you”. Gratitude is rewarding. Yet, gratitude is much more than saying thank you every now and then. It’s about showing your appreciation and happiness when someone does something fantastic for you. In relationships, it’s vital to demonstrate appreciation for your partner’s commitment and support. A study published in Journal of Family Psychology revealed that people with grateful partners tended to start out more satisfied with their relationships. After three years, they were still satisfied if they were also grateful.