Want to feel loved and connected to your partner? These Tips for Building a Healthy Relationship can help you build and keep a romantic relationship that’s healthy, happy, and satisfying.
Tips for Building a Healthy Relationship
Spend quality time face to face
You fall in love looking at and listening to each other. If you continue to look and listen in the same attentive ways, you can sustain the falling in love experience over the long term. You probably have fond memories of when you were first dating your loved one. Everything seemed new and exciting, and you likely spent hours just chatting together or coming up with new, exciting things to try. However, as time goes by, the demands of work, family, other obligations, and the need we all have for time to ourselves can make it harder to find time together.
Many couples find that the face-to-face contact of their early dating days is gradually replaced by hurried texts, emails, and instant messages. While digital communication is great for some purposes, it doesn’t positively impact your brain and nervous system in the same way as face-to-face communication. Sending a text or a voice message to your partner saying “I love you” is great, but if you rarely look at them or have the time to sit down together, they’ll still feel you don’t understand or appreciate them. And you’ll become more distanced or disconnected as a couple. The emotional cues you both need to feel loved can only be conveyed in person, so no matter how busy life gets, it’s important to carve out time to spend together.
Have a healthy competition around who can say “yes” more
For the most part, healthy couples get along well. No two people will agree one hundred percent of the time, but those who are a good match for one another are generally in agreement on day-to-day activities as well as bigger or longer-term plans. Wachtel suggests that couples aim to say “yes” to one another’s ideas as often as possible.
Of course, this should not apply to situations in which one partner feels unsafe or as if a boundary is being crossed, but shifting to agreeability in areas where it’s appropriate and safe can have significant positive impacts on improving a relationship.
Validate each other
Security is a key component of a healthy relationship, and emotional security is a key part of feeling safe. Practice listening to your partner when they are distressed without giving in to the urge to fix, solve, or evaluate things.
No feeling is invalid, so even if you don’t agree with your partner’s point of view, you can always say, “I hear you,” or “I can understand why you would feel that way,” or “I can tell this is really hard for you,” when they are upset. Unconditionally validating your partner lets them know that you are a safe ally, and are on their side. This can work wonders in terms of establishing a secure relationship.
Even as time passes, Wachtel says that healthy couples are concerned with being attracted to one another. This isn’t only about physical attractiveness, it applies also to intellectual and energetic attractiveness as well. If you wouldn’t talk for hours on end about the drama between coworkers to a friend, what makes you think your partner is interested in hearing it?
Wachtel suggests that couples make efforts to stay interesting to one another. Bring new ideas and perspectives, consider talking about things that are genuinely engaging to your partner, and in general, act like you care what they think.
Be a good listener
While a great deal of emphasis in our society is put on talking, if you can learn to listen in a way that makes another person feel valued and understood, you can build a deeper, stronger connection between you.
There’s a big difference between listening in this way and simply hearing. When you really listen—when you’re engaged with what’s being said—you’ll hear the subtle intonations in your partner’s voice that tells you how they’re really feeling and the emotions they’re trying to communicate. Being a good listener doesn’t mean you have to agree with your partner or change your mind. But it will help you find common points of view that can help you to resolve conflict.