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What Defines a Good Relationship? 13 Tips on How to Foster One

What Defines a Good Relationship? 13 Tips on How to Foster One

You probably think that couples that have a good relationship don’t fight, rarely go to bed angry, spend all their time together and are super romantic. This is the mindset that makes many couples feel defeated in their relationships, especially when they are going through conflict.

Just because you disagree with your partner every once in a while; or probably a little bit more than that, doesn’t mean that you cannot have a great relationship. Even the almost perfect relationship experiences misunderstandings, arguments, and disputes.

Your relationship is one of the most crucial components of your life. Many people put all their effort on the flirting and the dating, and then totally ignore their relationship once they are together. Developing and maintaining the relationship with your partner is the most important thing you can do for yourself.

Your relationship affects your stress levels, health, and happiness. No relationship is perfect all the time. However, connecting with your partner emotionally, physically and romantically is such a fantastic thing that it deserves all your effort. Here are some tips for building a healthy relationship:

1. Communicate with patience

Communication is one of the essential qualities of a great relationship. Unfortunately, experts indicate that many couples do not know how to communicate appropriately; or even communicate at all.

Healthy couples vocalize their love for one another. They take time to discuss their feelings, and they don’t leave their partners trying to figure out what’s going on. When partners make assumptions, expectations are set and just as quickly, they are deflated. The unmet expectations then leave partners questioning the viability of the relationship.[1]

Partners in a healthy relationship discuss even the most challenging subjects and agree to disagree. They know that they will not always see eye to eye and that’s ok. They, therefore, respect each other’s opinions and ideas.

They talk about sex openly and honestly. When partners tell each other what they find enjoyable and what they don’t like, they have better sex and, consequently, have a stronger relationship.

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Some couples even go as far as seeing a counseling service. Your insurance may even cover a set amount of sessions per year. So if your paying for them why not use them. Otherwise the cost is anywhere from $5 to $300 per hour,[2] this typically depends on your location and any entitlements/benefits you are eligible for.

2. Compromise

Every relationship will be punctuated by conflict. It is not a conflict that affects your relationship, but how you handle issues. The most crucial element in solving the conflict in your relationship is compromise.[3] You cannot be the one who is right all the time and it shouldn’t be you who always has the answers.

Keep an open mind, and you will be surprised at how a bit of compromise can go a long way.

3. Appreciate often

Many times, couples fall into patterns and take for granted all the things that their partners do for them. Notice all the small things that your partner does for you and thank them.

Appreciation is an excellent motivator to your partner, and it generates positive feelings within the relationship. Also, when you consciously practice appreciation and gratitude, you will focus more on the good instead of fixating on the negatives, and you will be much happier in your relationship.[4]

4. Always respect each other

Your relationship with your partner will thrive if you both feel respected by each other.

Respecting your partner comes in many forms: being mindful of their feelings, beliefs, time, and trust.

Conversely, many things can break down the respect in your relationship:[5]

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  • Name calling
  • Talking negatively about your partner to friends and family
  • Threatening to leave the relationship

5. Allow for personal space

Your relationship will be healthy if you allow room for each other to foster individuality. Allow each other time for friends, family, hobbies and other individual interests. This will help you and your partner to not only maintain separate identities but also nourish a healthy sense of self.

Spending all the time together might not only make you and your partner feel as if you are suffocating in the relationship but will also create an unhealthy co-dependence.

6. Be each other’s rock

Everyone goes through tough times, and when your partner is experiencing a personal challenge, your support can make the world of difference.

Also, no matter how independent you are, teach yourself to lean on your partner for support. Going through hard times together will bring you closer and strengthen your relationship.[6]

7. Be responsible for your happiness

Sometimes, partners expect too much from each other. People who were never happy hope to be happy because they are in a relationship; those who were never confident hope to feel confident; those who never felt they had value expect to feel valued just because they are a couple.

Unfortunately, looking to your partner to provide you with happiness and self-worth will lead to gross disappointment. It is entirely in order to expect your partner to treat you well, but your happiness and self -worth should come from within.

8. Learn more about each other

Who is your partner really? What excites him/her? What are their goals and dreams? You can become consumed by what you think your partner needs as opposed to knowing what truly resonates with them.

Remember, what your partner wants does not have to make sense to you: you just have to understand it.

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9. Learn to validate your partner’s feelings

Validating your partner increases the emotional security of your relationship, which is a crucial component of a healthy relationship. Listen to your partner without the urge to analyze, solve or fix things.

Even when you do not understand your partner’s point of view, you can always say: ‘I hear you!’

Validate your partner’s feelings unconditionally, and you will help them feel that you are a safe ally and that they are not alone. No feelings are invalid.[7]

Here’s why your lover doesn’t want your advice, but your validation.

10. Check in with each other

At the end of a long day, the standard question between couples is: ‘How was your day?’ Generally, the question will yield a superficial answer such as ‘Fine. How was yours?’ This will not in any way improve the connection between you and your partner.

Instead, ask questions like ‘What was the most challenging part of your day? And you will be amazed at how much insight you will gain into your loved one.

Seek to become an expert on your partner, and you will find it much easier to make them happy.[8]

11. Fight appropriately

Disagreeing is perfectly healthy. Just because you are fighting does not mean that you do not love each other or that you are headed for a breakup. You merely have a difference of opinion.

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Remind yourselves that you are on the same team. Negotiate your disagreements successfully by assuring yourselves that ultimately, you want the same outcome: peace and fulfillment in your relationship.

When you have things in the right perspective, you will not attack or intentionally hurt each other during arguments. Instead, you will strive to understand each other and work towards a solution.

12. Sleep on it

If you realize that your argument has hit a dead end, shelf it to another time; the next morning or later in the day. However, experts recommend that do not wait longer than a full day to revisit the issue.

13. Keep things interesting

You will change over and over again in the course of your relationship and so will your partner. Keep things in your relationship interesting by trying new activities and breaking out of your normal routine.

Seek to stay attractive with each other not only physically, but also intellectually. Bring new ideas and perspectives into your relationship and bring up topics that are genuinely engaging to your partner.

Learn from this article how to keep the spark alive in a relationship.

Final thoughts

Ultimately, if you want to build a great relationship, aim to make your partner feel good about themselves. The times your partner spends with you should not make them feel apprehensive but excited and energized.

The secret is to ensure that the good times in your relationship are more than the fights and the arguments. Your relationship should not feel like a second job, but a source of pleasure, fun, and comfort. You should look forward to being together after a long day at work.

Finally, do not compare your relationship with others: their homes, jobs, vacations. Things are seldom what they look like.

Featured photo credit: Juliana Malta via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Randy Skilton

Randy is an educator in the areas of relationships and self-help.

Do Rebound Relationships Work Out? Why They Will and Won’t How to Improve Communication in Relationships and Increase Intimacy What Defines a Good Relationship? 13 Tips on How to Foster One How to Set Marriage Goals That Make Your Relationship Stronger 10 Fun Relationship Quizzes to Strengthen Your Bond with Your Partner

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

More Inspiring Lessons

Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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