You might be dating for the first time in your life or married twenty years – either way, everyone needs some relationship help tips every now and then. You may have hit a rough patch, or you may just be one of those people who always want to be prepared. Here’s a kit of ten tested and true tips, no nonsense, no magic, no trickery, that form the foundation of every healthy relationship out there.
1. Stay Involved with Each Other
What with life’s daily hassles, it’s easy to get stuck in an eventless rut, where you barely acknowledge your partner’s existence. And while it’s fully normal for things to settle after a while, remind yourself to work, play and talk with your loved one on a regular basis. Drifting apart automatically implies less communication. A couple who no longer shares clearly no longer cares.
2. Survive Conflicts Together
All couples fight. Accept that, and be prepared to stand your ground, while also compromising where compromising is due. Depending on the two people’s natures, you and your loved one might like to scream and shout, or discuss things calmly, thoroughly, in great detail. Whatever your style, know that there is a solution to any conflict. The important thing is that the two of you reach that solution together.
3. Keep Your ‘Me’ Space
Know that no relationship is perfect and completely self-sufficient. No matter how taken you might be with your new sweetheart, you don’t want to alienate your friends or forget your interests and hobbies. Friends will provide insight, which will help you improve the relationship in the long run. Your interests will keep you interesting, independent and a well-rounded person, with a personality to match.
4. Communication Is Key
There has been much, much talk on this point. So much so, that it might sound like the world’s biggest cliché. It is, however true. If you’re not comfortable to discuss your needs, fears and wishes with your partner, sooner or later there are bound to be problems. No one can guess what you want or what you dread. Discussing these things helps achieve intimacy, set important boundaries and creating a connection that extends beyond the physical.
5. Stay Intimate
Humans need touch to grow – there have been studies on human infants which attest to this. The brain responds positively to physical touch, while intimacy deprivation creates aggressive characters. The body releases oxytocin when it enjoys physical intimacy, be it intercourse, kissing, holding hands, cuddling or hugging. Know what your partner responds well to, know what your needs are, and you’ve got a recipe for success.
6. Quality Time is Priceless
When the two of you first started dating, you needed to spend every waking moment together, talking, laughing and having fun. Life intervened, with its jobs, commutes, money problems and other bothersome details. You can, however, recapture some of that magic, if you just make time for each other. Play. Remember your shared interests. Surprise your partner. And remember that no one has time, but everyone can make time.
7. Give & Take
It’s karma, and it’s the way the balance of life works. In a relationship, that old adage of “you get what you give” is especially applicable. In order to make sure the giving and taking is equally shared, recognize your partner’s needs and boundaries, and make sure they acknowledge yours as well. If you do fight, remember that it’s not a competition. A problem has arisen and you want to solve it together, not win for the sake of winning. Also, if conflict does occur, respect is key and a calm attitude will always help.
8. Expect Up & Downs
No two people are 100% compatible. Acknowledge this as life deals you rougher hands, which is apt to do every now and then. Whatever happens, don’t take your job related problems, or other exterior issues out on your partner. Be aware that they might not have the same coping mechanisms as you and be prepared to give them space to heal after a loss of any kind. Some problems are bigger than the both you put together. Also, expect and embrace change, because if you’re both in it for the long run, there’s definitely going to be plenty of that.
9. No Shame in Counseling
Whether it’s therapy, a word of advice from a religious figure or any other authority in your circle or community, know that it is perfectly acceptable to want to share your couple issues with others. Communicate them honestly, with a focus on finding solutions, not a guilty party, and you are likely to benefit from the experience.
10. Accept Endings
This final tip is more about being a healthy stand-alone individual, but, ultimately, it’s also about moving on to another healthy relationship. People will often reach key points in their development at different paces. If you want a child and they don’t, if you want to move to Canada, and they don’t, if you want an open relationship and they’re hearing wedding bells, it’s time to move on. No matter which end of the stick you’re on, know that life will move on, and love will find you in the most unexpected of places, as it is usually prone to do.