Everyone has a different idea of a healthy relationship. My idea is simple. If you care about each other, make each other genuinely happy, are there for each other in hard times, and you can solve problems together – you’ve got it pretty good.
I personally disagree with whoever says that healthy relationships should be easy and come naturally. I believe that it shouldn’t be majorly hard, but I do believe that there’s a solid amount of effort required to maintain it.
With that said, I thought about a few things that counted towards sharing a positive effort in a relationship. So, here we go..
Communicate. I know, you’ve probably heard this a million times – me too. But it’s SO necessary. People can’t read your mind, they don’t naturally know your expectations, and they can’t help you if you don’t tell them what you need.
When you reach a tough situation, you can’t just shut down, things don’t get fixed that way. Take a break to collect your thoughts and find the best way to articulate what needs to be said, but don’t ignore things. You have to be vulnerable and shameless, able to admit when you’re wrong, willing to ask for help, and content with having hard conversations to bring good results.
Remember relationships aren’t perfect. From a young age, you’ve created an idea of what a ‘perfect’ relationship looks like. And as I said earlier, the couples on Instagram, the ones in the movies, even the ones you know – they aren’t what they seem. Movie couples are scripted, and the people in ‘real life’ only share what they want to. They post the glamourous parts on social media and brag to friends, but they don’t always share what happens behind closed doors, so keep that in mind.
Don’t let other people influence the decisions that you make for your relationship. As a person who values approval and acceptance from others, I know that this is extremely hard. But here’s the thing: No one knows your relationship better than you do. You (and your partner) are the only people who know what the relationship is truly like. You are the only one who experiences the little moments, conversations, ups and downs, feelings, etc. – Therefore, you are the only one with the credibility to make the decisions.
Grow together. I saw a quote one time. It said something like, “if you are the strongest one in your circle, you’re in the wrong circle.” I think it applies to relationships as well. You should be pushing one another to reach for more, whether that be in school, careers, faith, health/fitness – whatever applies best to you. For example – go on runs together, designate someone to make sure you both get to church, encourage each other to find and take opportunities, etc.
Have shared hobbies. The more that you can relate to someone and talk about things that you’re both interested in, the better the relationship will be. Having a go-to when you’re in need of something to do can be great as well. This ‘hobby’ could be super small things – watching a Netflix series, exercising, cooking, etc.
Support each other during struggles. Saying that you care and support them is essential – but you also have to show it too. You can do this in so many different ways: ask them if they want to vent and actually listen when they do, make them dinner, write a cute note, go on date night, etc. But if you’re the one who’s struggling, you have to be the one to communicate that. You can’t assume that your partner knows. If you need something, you have to ask for it.
Keep the romance alive. I’ll say what you’ve all heard before: keep going on dates, take trips together, flirt, surprise each other, etc. But I have two more things to add to the list: reassurance and physical touch. Tell them the things that make them feel good – “You look so good”, “I’m so thankful for you”, “You’re doing a great job”, “I couldn’t have found anyone better”, or even a simple/random “I love you.”
As for the physical touch, I mean that you should keep hand holding, cuddling together, giving a kiss before they leave, etc. I think letting these things get out of touch can make distancing really easy or can allow the relationship to feel more like a friendship.
Spend time apart. I know that sounds funny in comparison to what I was just saying. But think of it this way – if you spend time apart, you appreciate the time you have together more. I think it also helps keep people out of a regular or boring routine.
Share hopes and dreams about the future. Obviously, this is essential for younger couples but still applies to the older ones too. Talk about your dream house, dream jobs, where you want to live, how you want to raise a family (or not), personal goals, etc. Why? First of all, it’s fun to dream. But more importantly, it’s a great way to learn and understand someone’s values and it’s never too early (or late) to do that. For older couples – plan future trips, talk about life once you have grandkids, or the fun things you’ll do when you’re retired.
Ok, this post has been long enough, so I’ll stop here. Just remember that relationships are supposed to be fun, fulfilling, and empowering – and if you’re missing that, don’t be afraid to ask your partner to work on it together.
See you next time! 🙂