I came across an interesting blog article last week. The topic was about marriage. I know, it's a topic that's been written about extensively, so what made this article that different from the many out there? Besides having a clever hook (a mysterious build up to the answer), the recommendation for a happy relationship was remarkably simple. What was the advice? "Choose someone nice." Now, while I don't think the only road to a successful relationship is to be "nice," it's certainly a great place to start!
As a psychotherapist who works with both couples and individuals, I get asked this question a lot by patients, "What does a healthy relationship look like?" "What does it feel like?"
The truth is, a healthy relationship can look and feel different for different couples. But there are some consistent themes amongst couples who work well together verses those who don't.
Relationship success, although predictably challenging, is really very achievable. This is especially true if couples learn how to adopt the right approach. A thriving relationship is within reach, especially if both partners agree to do a little work on themselves. And if you're with the right person, some relationship tender loving care (TLC), will go a long way. So what are the keys to having a rock solid and successful relationship?
Here are 10 time proven tips to help you out.
1) Mutual Respect
This is an important one. When you know a lot about a partner, we also get acquainted with his or her faults. You don't need to agree with everything your partner says or does, but holding a steady admiration for them does promote a solid feeling of love and trust in the relationship. The happiest couples find a way to speak well of each other and hold each other in a positive light.
2) Take Interest in Each Other
People in healthy relationships remain interested and curious about one another. This gets conveyed in multiple ways, from asking a partner how they are doing, including them in important events and activities, and being able to convey feelings of really caring about them and how they experience life on a deep level.
3) Emotional Intimacy
Fulfilled couples know how to be emotionally familiar with each other's private and intimate world. They know each other's moving life story, and they continue to update their partner with new and important information about themselves. Happy couples know each other's hopes, goals, dreams and concerns about life. And they know it in a way no one else does.
4) Consider Each Other's Goals and Dreams
This is a biggie! Each person in a couple has goals and dreams they want to achieve in life so they can feel fulfilled and successful. In rewarding relationships, these partners find a way to incorporate each other's goals and dreams into the fabric of their relationship. They don't necessarily need to become a part of each other's personal dreams, but they certainly need to figure out a way to honor the dreams and goals of their partner.
5) Embrace Reality
The hopeless romantic in us wants to believe that we're with the perfect person who can meet our needs all of the time. But the reality is, there is no perfect. Each and every one of us, is flawed in some way. Solid couples keep this important reality in mind. They make sure their expectations are not so high that no one can live up to them. They learn to accept their partner's strengths and weaknesses. They understand conflict is inevitable and that some days are going to be easier than others.
6) Show Your Affection
Even if a partner knows they are loved, this doesn't mean they always feel loved. Successful couples show their partner how much they appreciate them. They aren't afraid to show physical affection towards each other, either. They also are up for doing the unexpected from time to time. Solid couples are adept at reminding their partners how important they are to them.
7) Learn to Laugh
As the late, great Joan Rivers said, "When you make someone laugh, you give them a little vacation from life." Couples who help each other laugh and find the funny in life during tough times are able to provide comfort, a sense of intimacy and bond better with one another. Laughing also increases one's physical well being, another added bonus.
8) Develop Good Communication Skills
Knowing how to communicate well is both a skill and an art. Luckily, it's one that can be learned. Solid couples know how to relay their expectations. If they want something from their partner, they let them know it. Happy couples know their partners don't read minds. They know how to say, "Please" and "Thank you" to each other, and most importantly know how to fight fair. Solid couples understand the way you speak to a partner has a huge impact on the quality of that relationship.
9) Take Care of Yourself
Taking care of ourselves is an important way to raise our self esteem and feel better emotionally and physically. It's important to treat ourselves with respect and importance. Couples who take responsibility for their own well being and happiness create a healthier emotional environment for their relationship to flourish.
10) Be Reliable
Partners who are trustworthy, reliable, and loyal to one another encourage a feeling of trust. This trust is necessary for a relationship to thrive! Happy couples follow through with their promises, and know they can rely on each other through thick and thin.
The good news is, you don't need to be perfect to have the solid relationship you crave and deserve. Isn't that a relief. All it takes (after you choose the right partner, of course) is a little effort, skill and thoughtfulness to make your relationship strong, solid and ready to go the distance.