Love is undoubtedly the most important aspect of any relationship, but it is not enough by itself. To become trusted and loving partners for life, both of you have to put in considerable time and effort. Below are some tips that can get you started.
- Relationships come with ups and downs. Don’t expect to be happy all the time. Be open to disappointments, too, and use them as an opportunity to know your partner better. This is particularly relevant for long-distance relationships, as lack of physical presence increases friction. A positive attitude during such difficult times leads to happier relationships.
- Understand, accept and appreciate. Make sure you put in the time and effort to understand your partner. Know what the other person likes to do, and also keep in mind that preferences and priorities change. Accept your partner the way he or she is, and appreciate their actions.
According to David Richo, the author of How to Be an Adult in a Relationship: the Five Keys to Mindful Loving, the two essential ingredients for a loving relationship are acceptance and appreciation. He says, “We do not tell a birch tree to look like an elm. We face it with no agenda, only appreciation.” Relationships work the same way. In a true relationship, mindfully and non-intrusively accept your partner with all of his or her positive and negative qualities.
- It is “we,” not “you” or “I.” When you refer to you and your partner as “we”, you are subconsciously considering both of you to be a single entity. This simple word enhances bonding and trust in a big way – even if your partner is not physically around. In fact, a study conducted by the University of California, Berkeley shows that couples who used the word “we” tend to be calmer, happier and more satisfied with their relationship when compared to those who use “you” or “I.”
- Gratitude helps. When you start feeling grateful for the things that your partner says and does, your relationship is sure to blossom. Research shows that gratitude reduces feelings of hate and pain as you tend to focus only on the positive side of your partner. In a study conducted by Rita Watson of Yale University, 77 heterosexual couples were asked to follow a three-day gratitude plan, and at the end of it, they felt more vitalized and positive about their partner. Such positive feelings go a long way in maintaining relationships.
- Explore new avenues. Problems start creeping into relationships when one or both get bored of the routine. To invigorate your relationship, explore new places, try new activities together, laugh with each other, do something ridiculous or do just about anything together that makes both of you happy. Such actions create a sense of excitement that you and your partner will look forward to.
- Exhibit physical affection. Get physical with your partner, such as kissing, holding hands, scratching the back or giving a hug, just to let your partner know that you love and care about them. A study by Arizona State University shows that such physical affection increases the feel-good hormones, improves mood and releases stress. If you are in a long-distance relationship, call frequently and let the other person know that you are thinking of him or her.
- Provide support. No human being is perfect! When your partner makes mistakes or is going through a hard time at work, show your physical and emotional support. Talk to your partner, give compliments often, listen when he or she is upset and help with work if you can. At the same time, don’t get too bossy and overbearing.
- Create milestones together. When you and your partner work toward the same cause, you are more likely to focus on each other’s positive side. Set common goals such as saving toward a vacation, your children’s college funds or anything else that is meaningful to both of you. Working harmoniously toward such goals can further strengthen your relationship.
- Fulfill your obligations. Relationships come with obligations. Be aware of them, and fulfill them to make your partner happy. At the same time, ensure that you’re not sacrificing your private space; you have to be happy, too. If you’re not comfortable with doing some things, talk about it with your partner.
- Communicate. Human beings are social animals, and communication is an innate need. Talk, text and message each other frequently to build a strong relationship. Be a good listener too, when your partner wants to share his or her day with you.
In short, strong relationships do not just happen. Rather, you have to build them with love, passion, understanding, tolerance, acceptance and appreciation. Start today to become loving partners for life!
Happy couple photo available from Shutterstock