It’s easy to think of romance as puppy love and grand gestures with a sweeping, dramatic soundtrack, but how do you sustain a healthy and satisfying romance with the person you love?
Communication is Respect
As one of the most important qualities for a healthy relationship, learning and maintaining healthy communication habits is essential for happy couples. Communicate through kind words, gestures, and actions. Healthy couples communicate through difficult times with as much respect as when they communicate through happier times. Be sure to listen without interrupting or without focusing on what to say next.
Speak up, and communicate often because harboring bad feelings leads to resentment. Don’t gloss over the uncomfortable discussions and realize that criticism can be a healthy practice as long as it is done constructively. Learning the phrase, “When ____ happens, it makes me feel ____” can be particularly helpful. And remember that honesty and transparency are essential.
Simply put, words hurt. Don’t let one bad argument become what defines your relationship. Set some boundaries on how you argue. Remain respectful and in control of your emotions, and keep in mind what you both are trying to achieve. Don’t fight dirty—this means no name calling, bashing, and threatening to leave the relationship as a means of “winning” an argument. Don’t dredge up past arguments. Be willing to compromise. Practice active listening, and paraphrase to make sure you understood what the other person said. Ask for clarification if there’s something that you’re not clear about. And remember that when you are in the wrong, a true apology is spoken and listened to with humility.
Spending time together is essential to building a relationship, but keeping your own interests and independence is vital. When couples spend too much time together, it can create an unhealthy, codependent relationship, and you can lose your identity as an individual. Continue to nurture your own interests, friends, and hobbies. No relationship can thrive if you don’t take care of yourself as well as each other.
You may know why you love your partner, but do they? Not feeling appreciated or needed by your significant other can be devastating in a relationship. Show them you care with compliments, tokens of love, and small gestures or daily habits that say so much—giving a nice foot rub at the end of a long day, splitting household chores and responsibilities, leaving small encouraging notes in their briefcase, or bringing home a favorite dessert. Don’t miss any opportunity to praise your significant other, and be proud of their accomplishments.
Quality, Not Quantity
It doesn’t matter how much time you spend together as long as you really connect during this time. It’s fun to zone out together while watching hours of your favorite TV show, but it’s crucial to make sure you spend quality time together to maintain a deep connection. Have meals at the dinner table. Disconnect from the world together by turning off electronics. Ask each other about your days to show you care.
After the honeymoon period fades or after years together, it can be easy to slip into a rut. Try out new food or cultural experience at different restaurants. Get active and try hiking, rock-climbing, or scuba-diving. Be spontaneous and go on a weekend getaway. Keep the spark alive by seeking excitement with adrenaline-inducing activities. Watch a scary movie, or spend the day at an amusement park to get your hearts racing.
Think about some ways to keep the romance- or discover a new flicker- in your relationship. For tips on keeping the spark alive, listen to some advice from couples who have been together for a long time- after all, couple that has spent the last 75 years together must be doing something right!