- 7 Tips to Strengthen Any Relationship
- 14 Ways to Keep Your Relationship Strong, Healthy, and Happy
- 1. Don’t argue over money
- 2. Try not to focus on trifles
- 4. Be friendly
- 5. Resolve arguments together
- 6. Show affection daily
- 7. Focus on the positive
- 8. Be supportive
- 9. Words plus deeds
- 10. Recognize that all relationships have ups and downs
- 11. Respect each other when arguing
- 12. Have each other’s back
- 13. Set goals as a couple
- 14. Make your partner a priority
- 5 Simple but Often Forgotten Ways to Keep a Relationship Strong
- Quality time
- Small acts of kindness
- Express Your Love
7 Tips to Strengthen Any Relationship
Source: Ilene Cohen
“Happy marriages are a deep friendship, mutual respect and enjoyment of each others company.” –John Gottman
I was taking my usual morning walk when I spotted an elderly couple sitting on a bench, holding hands and enjoying the beautiful bay view.
That image of lifelong love and affection pulled at my heartstrings; it’s the kind of scene we strive to live out in our own relationships. But a happy marriage that lasts until the end doesn’t just happen by accident.
It takes hard work and a strong commitment. How do you end up as the couple sitting on the bench together, instead of in divorce court?
Society Misrepresents Marriage
“The sound of your heart — it is the most significant sound in my world.” –Edward Cullen, Twilight
Society tells us we need love to be complete, but many people don’t quite know what real, healthy romantic relationships look . When we compare our actual relationships to the ones we see projected in the media, it’s easy to feel ours are falling short.
Movies usually end just at the start of the characters’ romantic relationships. Well, of course: The beginning is the exciting part! What the movies don’t show is what happens during and after the couple’s fights, when all the making up is over.
What happens when the children are waking you up at all hours of the night, dirty clothes are strewn all over the floor, and the pile of bills keeps getting bigger? Movies distort the image of a romantic relationship, setting an unattainable standard.
They trick us into thinking you can change the “player,” turning him into a lifelong monogamous partner. These relationships are unrealistic, working the angle that true love conquers all, brings endless happiness, and involves zero conflict.
As people embrace this popular view of love, it’s becoming more common for couples to enter relationships a desire for happiness and personal fulfillment.
When the initial romantic feelings fade, people think the love is gone. They become emotional subway stations, transferring from one relationship to the next.
This can be problematic because it sets unrealistic expectations about sex, love, and relationship intimacy.
Since 1973, Dr. John Gottman has studied what he calls the “masters and disasters” of marriage.
Hundreds of individuals from the general public have taken part in his long-term studies, which he designs to determine what makes marriages fail, what makes them succeed, and what factors give them meaning.
his results, Gottman is able to predict with more than 90 percent accuracy which couples will make it and which won’t. Below are some of his top suggestions for how to keep your own relationship strong:
1. Seek help early. The average couple waits six years before seeking help for marital problems — and keep in mind, half of all marriages that end do so within the first seven years. This means the average couple lives unhappily for far too long.
2. Edit yourself. Couples that avoid saying every critical thought when discussing touchy topics are consistently the happiest.
3. Soften your “start-up.” Arguments typically escalate when one partner makes a critical or contemptuous remark in a confrontational tone. Bring up problems gently and without blame.
4. Accept influence. A marriage succeeds to the extent that the husband can accept influence from his wife.
If a woman says, “Do you have to go out with your friends Friday night? My parents are coming that weekend, and I need your help getting ready,” and her husband replies, “My plans are set, and I'm not changing them,” this can create some shakiness in a marriage.
Gottman emphasizes the husband’s ability to be influenced by his wife, because research shows that women are generally well practiced at accepting influence from men. A true partnership occurs when both husband and wife accept influence from one another.
5. Have high standards. Happy couples have high standards for each other from the beginning. The most successful couples are those that, even as newlyweds, refuse to accept hurtful behavior from each other. The lower the level of tolerance for bad behavior at the beginning of a relationship, the happier the couple will be down the road.
6. Learn to repair and exit the argument. Successful couples know how to exit an argument.
After a fight, they repair by using attempts that include changing the topic to something completely different; using humor; saying a caring remark (“I get this is a hard topic to discuss”); establishing common ground (“This is our problem”); backing off (as Gottman puts it, “In marriage, as in the martial art Aikido, you have to yield to win”); and offering signs of appreciation for each other along the way (“I really want to thank you for…”). If an argument gets too heated, take a 20-minute break, and agree to approach the topic again when you’re both calm.
7. Focus on the bright side.
When discussing problems, successful couples make at least five times as many positive statements to and about each other and their relationship as negative ones.
For example, “We have fun together,” instead of, “You never want to do anything.” A good marriage must have a rich climate of positivity. Make frequent deposits to your emotional bank accounts.
Source: Cookie Studio/Shutterstock
I know how difficult it can be to implement the suggestions in this post, especially in the heat of an argument. But anything worthwhile, it takes work and a conscious commitment. If you can’t control yourself during a fight, take time afterward to repair your bond. And if you’re married, please share how you keep your marriage strong. I look forward to hearing from you.
Copyright Ilene Strauss Cohen 2017
14 Ways to Keep Your Relationship Strong, Healthy, and Happy
We’ve all heard that a relationship “takes work,” but what does that mean exactly?
Frankly, it sounds drudgery. Who wants to spend hours at an office only to come home to job number two? Wouldn’t it be more pleasant to think of your relationship as a source of comfort, fun, and pleasure?
Of course, it would. That said, here are some basic fixes if things feel stagnant if the good times are becoming few and far between, if arguing is your main form of communication, or if you just feel that you need a tune-up. And they might even be enjoyable.
How to maintain a healthy relationship doesn’t need to be long winding, complex process.
Allow me to elaborate and as you read on, you may just find it pretty resourceful to keep a healthy relationship.
1. Don’t argue over money
It’s practically a guaranteed relationship killer. If you haven’t yet had a conversation about how money is earned, spent, saved, and shared, do it now. Try to get an understanding of how each of you sees your financial life, and where the differences are. Then address them.
2. Try not to focus on trifles
Is it worth fighting about? More to the point, is it really a trifle? Often a seemingly minor issue is a manifestation of a larger problem. Do you want to know how to make a relationship strong? Talk about what’s really bothering you, instead of how loud the TV is. It’s really that simple.
Your hopes. Your fears. Your passions. Let your partner know who you really are. Set aside sometime each day just to talk about the things that are important to each of you, as individuals. This is one of the most crucial things to do to make your relationship stronger.
4. Be friendly
Treat your partner the way you’d treat a good and trusted friend: with respect, consideration, and kindness. It will go a long way in fostering a strong relationship.
5. Resolve arguments together
When couples fight, it’s all too easy to get locked into a win/lose dynamic. Think of your disagreement as a problem for you both to solve, not a fight for you to win. Think of saying “we” before giving in to the temptation of casting blame on the other person.
6. Show affection daily
Sex is one thing. Holding hands, a hug, a squeeze on the arm – all create connection and trust. If you’re not getting as much attention as you want, let it be known.
7. Focus on the positive
What do you appreciate about your partner? What first attracted you? What do you treasure about your life together? Focus on the positivity to make the relationship strong.
8. Be supportive
Nothing kills a buzz a negative or absent response to something you’re enthusiastic about.
9. Words plus deeds
Saying “I love you” carries much more weight when you consistently do things that your partner values.
10. Recognize that all relationships have ups and downs
Think long-term. Your relationship is an investment, as the stock market. Ride out the down times. With the right kind of attention, they will be temporary.
11. Respect each other when arguing
It is all too tempting to use whatever ammunition you’ve got in the heat of battle. Ask yourself, where will it get you? A partner who is ly to come to your side, or one who will get even more defensive? Ask your partner how he or she sees the problem.
12. Have each other’s back
And, let that be known, that’s how you keep a relationship strong.
13. Set goals as a couple
Talk about how you want your relationship to look in a year, five years, ten years. Then work toward that goal.
14. Make your partner a priority
That is why you’re in this relationship in the first place.
This is how to keep a relationship strong and happy. Following these tips will get you closer to your spouse and improve the quality of your relationship.
Relationships, against what is commonly believed, are not as difficult to maintain as they are made out to be.
Inculcating some habits and behaviors in your day to day life is sufficient to keep your relationship strong, healthy and happy.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
5 Simple but Often Forgotten Ways to Keep a Relationship Strong
“Good relationships don’t just happen. They take time, patience, and two people who truly want to be together.” ~Unknown
our six loving years together, my partner and I spent two and a half years in a long-distance relationship. During these years there were times we communicated nearly daily, but there were also times when we couldn’t even email or text for a month at a time while I was living in an African village.
Being separated by an ocean from the person that is the most important to me was of course difficult and painful, but I believe it also made our relationship stronger.
We have learned some invaluable lessons about love and relationships from being separated by the distance. These lessons are still crucial in our relationship and allow us to maintain our love, happiness, and harmony.
After the long-distance part of our relationship, we moved in together. We lived a “normal couple-life,” spending daytime apart, eating dinner together, unwinding with a movie while cuddling, and spending our weekends together.
Then we set off to travel. For over a year, we volunteered on organic farms, hitchhiked, couchsurfed, and traveled together.
During this year we spend nearly every hour of every day together, or at least near each other. Talk about making up for the long-distance time. Yet, we still employed what we learned during our years apart.
I truly believe that we learned and practiced the universal truths that are essential for every relationship regardless of the distance.
When I was apart from my boyfriend people didn’t understand how I remained so calm and never worried that he would cheat on me or leave me. How I did it was so simple: I always trusted him. We would have never made it without our trust for each other and for our relationship.
Trust is crucial. Period. No ifs or buts.
If you are in the relationship for the long term, you simply cannot afford to have trust issues. There is no room for doubt. You have to trust with a full heart that your partner loves you.
As I mentioned before, during our long-distance years weeks passed by without us being able to talk to each other. We had to have quality conversations rather than only chit chatting about meaningless things.
We even added fun and meaningful activities, carving Halloween pumpkins or having a meal together through the Internet.
Quality time is essential. Whether you are in a long-distance relationship or just live a busy life with full-time jobs and outside activities, you may not be able to spend as much time as you’d with your loved one.
Do something fun together, do something meaningful, have meaningful conversations, pay attention to each other, and express your love crazy.
Communication is always crucial, especially when you communicate through Skype. We quickly realized that the way we communicated with each other was key to maintain a loving conversation.
When you communicate with your loved one, remember that love is the key. Speak from the heart.
Have good intentions and be clear. Discuss problems in a peaceful and loving manner.
Practice effective active listening skills; do not interrupt the other person, listen and watch. Be mindful.
Remain calm. Be respectful. Be loving.
Small acts of kindness
Small acts of kindness have always been a big part of our relationship. When we were apart we sent each other postcards, eCards, handwritten letters, and songs over email. When we were in the same country we bought each other flowers and made each other some wonderful meals.
Small acts are vital. Whether it is a small gift, doing the dishes, or giving a hug, it shows your love and support.
Send flowers, send an ecard, or leave a small note on the table. Bake cookies or make breakfast in bed. Give hugs and kisses for no reason other than to show your love.
Express Your Love
Expressing our love for each other was probably the most crucial thing in our relationship. It still is. We always make sure to tell each other how much we love each other, and do it with meaning.
Love is always the foundation. It’s nearly obvious, but sometimes so obvious that couples tend to forget about it, and saying “I love you” becomes monotonous. But love is the basis and the reason of your relationship.
So express your love through actions, words, and non-verbal communication. Don’t make “I love you” a routine, but instead always, and I do mean always, say it from the heart.
Photo by Helene Valvatae An Das
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