Tips For Building A Healthy Relationship
Published on October 23rd, 2015
Updated on February 3rd, 2024
Relationships are challenging. They come with many fun and tender moments, along with many fond memories. Relationships are something that people cherish. Healthy couples value their relationship and make it a priority to maintain.
People tend to think of a relationship as a bond between two people that is held together by love. It is assumed that as long as there is love in a relationship, it will withstand all hurdles. This impression comes from a number of influences. Music, media, and novels often revolve around the concept of love.
The portrayal of love consists of a passion that never dies and a love that will certainly last forever. While a romantic sentiment, it seems far from reality. While love, lust, passion, and excitement are often part of a relationship, they are not the only things that hold a relationship together.
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The reality is that love is an emotion that can be felt at varying degrees at different points in a relationship. Passion and excitement only happen in moments that create memories, and lust will likely fade with time for many couples. None of these qualities are necessarily consistent and do not naturally stick in a relationship. They all require maintenance and motivation from both partners to work for keeping the bond that exists between each other.
Love is needed in a successful relationship. The experience and intensity of love will grow, fade, ignite and change throughout the course of the relationship. To keep love alive, both partners must be committed and motivated to work toward nurturing their love. Considering this, it is understandable how love alone cannot be the only indicator of a successful relationship. Love alone cannot hold a relationship together.
This article will discuss other key components that go into the success of a relationship. In order for a relationship to be held together, there must be different qualifiers along with love. Such qualifiers include:
- Common interests
- Common goals
- Complementary qualities
With each of these components, a foundation is created for a successful relationship. This article will also discuss tips for preserving a healthy relationship that will last when love alone is not strong enough to motivate a couple.
The Strongest Predictors Of Romantic Relationship Quality
For most people, a major life goal is to be in a healthy and successful relationship. To many, a successful relationship is filled with love, passion, and adventure. Influences from popular culture have sent the message that a successful relationship has:
- A passion that never dies
- A lust that is intense and withstanding
- A love that stands the test of time
It is an attractive picture, but most successful do not end up like those in movies and novels.
Love, passion, and intimacy are needed in a successful relationship. However, the experience of each of these is often fleeting. Passion comes in temporary moments. Intimacy changes in waves of ebbs and flows. Love is something that needs to be worked for and maintained. A healthy relationship dynamic is something that takes effort from both partners. It also takes tolerance for the times when love is not so passionate, and lust has dulled. That is why love alone is not the only predictor of the quality of a healthy romantic relationship.
In order to have a strong relationship of good quality, there will need to be more than just love. The couple will need to commit to making the relationship work. The success of a relationship does have predictors. The following predictors can help indicate the quality of a romantic relationship:
Willingness To Compromise
Every relationship comes with two partners. Because each partner is different and unique, they will have unique needs. Partners will agree on some needs but not agree with others.
It is not uncommon for partners to have to compromise in relationships to ensure their quality. A predictor of a good relationship is the willingness of both partners to compromise.
Being able to compromise and tend to a partner’s needs indicates the ability to work as a team. This helps to promote collaborative thinking and working together. These skills are predictors of good quality in a relationship.
If one or both partners is not willing to compromise, the relationship may not work. This is the same case if one partner is sacrificing too much of their own needs to meet the needs of their partner.
Having Similar Values (and adopting each other’s values)
Values are a critical part of a relationship. Everyone has values in life. Values can be moral, financial, goal-oriented, or related to lifestyle. While no relationship has two partners with the exact same values, it is important for a couple to have common values.
Common values provide a point for the couple to relate to each other. It allows a couple to explore common interests and promotes teamwork. Common values also provide a strong natural connection with one another.
While most successful relationships have common values between partners, not all values need to match. It is okay to have values that are different than your partner’s values. It is also okay to care about a cause and know that your partner does not feel the same way.
It is unrealistic to assume that either partner in a relationship will adopt all of the values of the other. Values can be learned from each other. Partners can engage in and adopt the values of their partners. They can also learn to respect their partners’ values, even if they do not relate to them themselves.
Commitment To Preserving The Relationship
More than anything else, commitment to the relationship is what holds it together. Motivation and commitment to sticking together through the fun times and rough times are critical for a successful relationship. Each partner must be prepared for the challenges that come with being together. Not every moment will be filled with love and excitement. In fact, most relationships regularly hit more challenging points. Common challenges for a relationship to experience include:
- Times of tension
- Unresolved relationship issues
- Busy schedules
- Conflicting work schedules
During these times, the couple must be committed to working hard to keep the relationship alive. Sometimes love and passion will be dull and difficult to maintain. In such times, it takes effort and patience to preserve the quality of the relationship.
Sharing Complementary Life Goals
Being on the same page when it comes to life goals is an important part of having a strong relationship. Having similar life goals is important, and supporting each other’s life goals will be a huge factor to consider when determining the strength of your relationship.
In Many cases, different goals can complement each other. As long as the bigger picture is similar for both partners or is created with both partners in mind, the relationship has the potential for success.
Partners in a relationship do not need to have identical life goals in order to be compatible. Each partner’s life goals can complement each other. The bigger picture of what each partner wants the future to look like is what is essential. Just like how both partners do not need to have the exact same values, they also do not need to be on the exact same path. Similarly, partners who have life goals that will lead them in different directions face unique challenges in maintaining their relationship.
Example: If one partner wants a family, and the other wants a life of travel, the relationship itself may struggle to survive. The two partners have conflicting goals because they want different experiences in their lives. Finding a middle ground between the two can be challenging, but not impossible. There is room for compromise in such situations. The differing goals and outcomes of those goals will play a major role in predicting the quality of the relationship.
How Improving Communication Can Help Build A Healthy Relationship
If you are or have been in a relationship, you may understand how important it is to have a strong method of communicating with your partner. Maybe you are dating someone, are in a serious relationship, or are married. At any relationship status, you will find that having healthy communication skills makes a huge difference. You may consider improving your communication if you are struggling in your relationship. Improving communication with your partner can increase happiness for both of you. This consequently contributes to improved relationship satisfaction.
We all have communication deficits that negatively impact our relationships. Luckily, we can improve our communication with loved ones by learning more effective ways of communicating.
Key Tips For Improved Communication
Communication, at its most basic level, is about an exchange of information between individuals. Yet on a more meaningful level, communication centers on the intent and emotions behind that interaction.
Effective communication involves commitment and participation from both parties. It is achieved through:
- Active listening
- Staying focused on the present
- Acknowledging one’s emotions
- Being as clear, open, and honest as possible
A more intimate understanding of one another can grow if communication among partners is strengthened.
Tip: Become a Better Listener
Listening is obviously a key part of communication, but many people do not know how to truly listen successfully. Listening is not just about hearing the other person, but rather it is an active process. Ask yourself, if you are listening to rebuttal, or formulating a response for when your partner is done talking, are you truly listening?
A significant part of effective listening involves restating what your partner has said. This can be done by paraphrasing back to them what you understand their message to be. You must also be open to hearing corrections from your partner if they feel you did not understand what they said the first time.
Note: Another tip to becoming a better listener is remaining fully focused on the person speaking. This means you should put down your phone, turn off the TV or computer, and concentrate on your spouse when they are talking to you.
Tip: Validate Your Partner’s Feelings
Validating what your partner expresses is a way to be a more effective listener. It also allows your partner to understand that you acknowledge what they are saying. You can validate what your partner is communicating by saying something like “I understand how what you went through made you feel this way.”
Also pertinent to remember is that a key to successful listening is silence on your part. This allows your partner to speak without being interrupted. It also creates a space where they have an opportunity to think about what they want to say.
Tip: Use “I” Statements
If you are in a relationship, you may be able to easily make a list of things that annoy or frustrate you about your partner or relationship. Sometimes we suppress these annoyances, allowing them to build up, and boil to the surface at some point. Oftentimes, we approach our partners in an accusatory manner when this “boiling over” occurs, saying things like “you did this” or “you never do _____.”
Criticizing your partner is most likely not going to elicit a positive or helpful response, and may cause them to shut down altogether. Instead of approaching with accusations, approach your partner about the concern or grievance by using an “I” statement. This is much more effective and beneficial to both parties.
Example. Express that you feel unappreciated with a sentence like “I have been feeling unimportant recently.” This way you can avoid accusing your partner of wrongdoing while still getting your point across. With this approach, you have a higher chance of getting your needs met without causing an argument, defensiveness or hurt feelings.
Tip: Question Assumptions
If you have been with your partner for a period of time, you might be in a pattern of assuming things. You may assume your partner knows what you need, that they understand what you are thinking, etc.
Stop assuming, because your partner is (most likely) not a mind reader. Being respectfully direct is essentially the golden rule here. Articulating your needs, wants, and desires will help your partner understand you better. It will also help you get what you want out of the relationship.
Tip: Don’t Ignore Non-Verbal Communication
People often forget how much we communicate non-verbally. We may do so through our tone of voice, our body language, and our level of eye contact. Noticing these nonverbal cues can provide new insight into what your partner is saying. More importantly, it helps us understand what they are meaning.
As you begin to notice more and more of your partner’s non-verbal indicators, do not forget to focus on your own as well. Relationships are two-sided, and both parties contribute to healthy (or unhealthy) communication patterns.
Note: Non-verbal cues can be especially helpful when it comes to arguments. To keep an argument from escalating, try to maintain appropriate eye contact while keeping a neutral tone to your voice.
Tip: Take A Time-Out When Conversation Stops Being Productive
You are not getting anywhere if the argument becomes about yelling, overpowering your partner, or putting each other down. Continuing to argue will most likely make things worse and cause more conflict and tension. At this point, it is usually beneficial for both partners to acknowledge that the conversation is no longer productive. In such cases, it can help to take a time-out. Designate 15-30 minutes to cool off before returning to the conversation. When you do, intend to resolve the issue.
Lifestyle Tips For A Healthier Relationship
Communication is important when building a healthy relationship, but there are other things a couple can work on as well. Building a lifestyle together that promotes the following can make a huge difference in how you can bond with your partner:
- Common interests
Follow the tips below to build a healthy relationship:
Tip: Nurture Common Interests
Partners who have common interests tend to have the potential for healthy relationships. Sharing common interests promotes a healthy bond. Common interests provide a point of relating to each other. When a couple has common interests, they can enjoy quality time together naturally. They have a point of connection.
Sometimes partners start their relationship not having much in common. Not having much in common is not necessarily an indicator of a poor relationship. The openness to embracing your partner’s interest will predict relationship quality. If you can adopt the interests of your partner, there is potential for a strong relationship. This is provided that they’re willing to adopt your interests as well.
Tip: Respect Your Partner’s Independence
While a couple should prioritize time spent together, it is important for each partner to also have independence. Independence and autonomy are important components of a healthy relationship. The relationship will likely struggle without each of these.
The ability to have autonomy is a strong indicator of relationship success. Teamwork and being able to depend on each other for support are important, but so is the ability to be autonomous.
Couples who have autonomy and independence can take care of themselves when their partner is not able to support them. They can handle challenges on their own without needing their partner to be there with them. This is important for in-the-moment stressors and crises.
Autonomous couples also can have their own social lives separate from each other. The ability to spend time without your partner, whether alone, with family, or with friends helps promote a healthy mind and spirit. It ensures that other healthy relationships with friends and family are maintained.
Without autonomy, either one or both partners can become codependent on each other. This is an unhealthy pattern because it causes partners to smother each other. It also takes away the ability to work as a team as one partner takes on a caretaker role for the other partner.
It is healthy to be able to rely on and lean on your partner. If this need progresses into codependence, one or both partners may lose the ability to take care of themselves. Codependent relationships cause a decline in the mental health in one or both partners.
Tip: Set Goals For The Future Together
A huge predictor of the quality of the relationship is the goals of each partner. The following are all important considerations for a person’s future:
If a couple has goals that are in line with each other, they have the potential for a strong relationship. The ability to modify goals to incorporate a partner’s needs and vision for the future also promotes relationship success.
Example: Some people in a relationship may want to focus on their career while their partner wants to focus on building and caring for a family. These two goals can complement each other. One partner is given the role of the primary provider of income and financial security. The other partner takes on the role of the primary caregiver for the family.
Tip: Focus on the Present
Concentrating on the present is vital in terms of arguments that may arise between you and your spouse. Have you ever been in a disagreement with your partner and one (or both) people bring up issues from the past? This usually causes the fight to move away from the original argument and into something completely different.
These types of disagreements can be extremely detrimental to a relationship. This is because there is typically no end in sight as to what each party can bring up about what the other has done “wrong” in the past. If both individuals are unable to stay focused on the present, then at least one person needs to recognize when the argument is veering into past issues, and concentrate on shifting the conversation back to the present issue or concern. This shifts the focus away from past resentments and onto seeking resolution.
Tip: Seek Counseling
If there are areas of communication in your relationship that you are finding difficult to work on with your partner, it might be time to consider couples counseling. Having a third party (the therapist) present to mediate interactions and offer helpful insights can be beneficial to couples who have gotten into harmful or unproductive communication patterns.