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Published on November 21, 2018

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

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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 August 19, 2019

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

We live in a world that constantly tells us what to do, how to act, what to be. Knowing how to be true to yourself and live the life you want can be a challenge.

When someone asks how we are, we assume that the person does not mean the question sincerely, for it would lead to an in depth conversation. So telling them that you are good or fine, even if you’re not, is the usual answer.

In an ideal world, we would stop and truly listen. We wouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves. Instead, when we answer about how we are doing, our mask, the persona we show the world, tightens. Sometimes even more so than it might have been before. Eventually, it becomes hard to take off, even when you’re alone.

Imagine a world where we asked how someone was doing and they really told us. Imagine a world where there were no masks, only transparency when we talked to one another.

If you want to live in a world that celebrates who you are, mistakes and all, take off the mask. It doesn’t mean you have to be positive or fine all the time.

According to a Danish psychologist, Svend Brinkman, we expect each other to be happy and fine every second, and we expect it of ourselves. And that “has a dark side.”[1] Positive psychology can have its perks but not at the expense at hiding how you truly feel in order to remain seemingly positive to others.

No one can feel positive all the time and yet, that is what our culture teaches us to embrace. We have to unlearn this. That said, telling others you are ‘“fine”’ all the time is actually detrimental to your wellbeing, because it stops you from being assertive, from being authentic or your truest self.

When you acknowledge a feeling, it leads you to the problem that’s causing that feeling; and once you identify the problem, you can find a solution to it. When you hide that feeling, you stuff it way down so no one can help you.You can’t even help yourself.

Feelings are there for one reason: to be felt. That doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. It just means that you start the process of problem solving so you can live the life you want.

1. Embrace Your Vulnerability

When you are your true self, you can better self-advocate or stand up for what you need. Your self-expression matters, and you should value your voice. It’s okay to need things, it’s okay to speak up, and it’s okay not to be okay.

Telling someone you are simply “fine” when you are not, does your story and your journey a great disservice. Being true to yourself entails embracing all aspects of your existence.

When you bring your whole self to the table, there is nothing that you can’t beat. Here’re 7 benefits of being vulnerable you should learn.

Can you take off the mask? This is the toughest thing anyone can do. We have learned to wait until we are safe before we start to be authentic.

In relationships especially, this can be hard. Some people avoid vulnerability at any cost. And in our relationship with ourselves, we can look in the mirror and immediately put on the mask.

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It all starts with your story. You have been on your own unique journey. That journey has led you here, to the person you are today. You have to be unafraid, and embrace all aspects of that journey.

You should seek to thrive, not just survive. That means you do not have to compete or compare yourself with anyone.

Authenticity means you are enough. It’s enough to be who you are to get what you want.

What if for the first time ever, you were real? What if you said what you wanted to say, did what you wanted to do, and didn’t apologize for it?

You were assertive, forthcoming in your opinions or actions to stand for what is right for you, (rather than being passive or aggressive) in doing so. You didn’t let things get to you. You knew you had something special to offer.

That’s where we all should be.

So, answer me this:

How are you, really?

And know that no matter the answer, you should still be accepted.

Bravery is in the understanding that you still may not be accepted for your truth.

Bravery is knowing you matter even when others say that you do not.

Bravery is believing in yourself when all evidence counters doing so (i.e. past failures or losses)

Bravery is in being vulnerable while knowing vulnerability is a sign of strength.

It’s taking control.

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2. Choose Your Attitude in Adversity

You can take control of your destiny and live the life you want by being true to yourself. You can start anytime. You can start today.

You can start with one day at a time, just facing what happens that day. Most of us get overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of a big change. Even if the only thing we change is our attitude.

In one instant, you can become a different person with a change of attitude. When you take control of your attitude, you become able to better understand what is around you. This allows you to move forward.

Originally, you may have had a life plan. It could have started when you were little; you were hoping to become a mermaid, doctor, astronaut or all three when you grew up. You were hoping to be someone. You were hoping to be remembered.

You can still dream those dreams, but eventually reality sets in. Obstacles and struggles arise. You set on a different path when the last one didn’t work out. You think of all the “shoulds” in your life in living the life you want. You should be doing this…should be doing that…

Clayton Barbeau, psychologist, coined the term “shoulding yourself.’[2] When we are set on one path and find ourselves doing something different. It becomes all the things you should be doing rather than seeing the opportunities right in front of you.

But in all this disarray, did you lose sight of the real you?

It may be in our perceived failures and blunders that we lose sight of who we are, because we try to maintain position and status.

In being who we really are and achieving what we really want, we need to be resilient: How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You

It means that we do not see all possibilities of what might happen, but must trust ourselves to begin again, and continue to build the life we want. In the face of adversity, you must choose your attitude.

Can attitude overcome adversity? It certainly helps. While seeking to be true to yourself and live the life you want, you will have to face a fact:

Change will happen.

Whether that change is good or bad is unique to each person and their perspective.

You might have to start over, once, twice, a few times. It doesn’t mean that everything will be okay, but that you will be okay. What remains or should remain is the true you. When you’ve lost sight of that, you’ve lost sight of everything.

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And then, you rebuild. Moment after moment, day after day. We all have a choice, and in this moment, that matters.

You can choose to have a positive attitude, seeing the silver lining in each situation and, where there is none, the potential for one. Maybe that silver lining is you and what you will do with the situation. How will you use it for something good?

That’s how you can tap into yourself and your power. Sometimes it happens by accident, sometimes on purpose. It can happen when we aren’t even looking for it, or it can be your only focus. Everyone gets there differently.

You can rise, or you can remain. Your choice.

When the worst happens, you can rely on your authenticity to pull you through. That’s because Self Advocacy, speaking up to let others know what you need, is part of finding the real you.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Or sometimes, helping others can help us deal with the pain of a hurtful situation. You decide how you’re going to help others, and suddenly, you become your best self.

3. Do What Makes You Happy When No One’s Looking

Being the best version of you has nothing to do with your success or your status. It has everything to do with your Character, what you do when no one’s looking.

In order to create the life you want, you have to be the person you want to be. Faking it till you make it is just a way to white knuckle it through your journey. You have the fire inside of you to make things right, to put the pieces together, to live authentically. And Character is how you get there.

If you fall down and you help another up while you’re down there, it’s like you rise twice.

Along with attitude, your character is about the choices you make rather than what happens to you.

Yes, it’s about doing the right thing even when obstacles seem insurmountable.  It’s about using that mountain you’ve been given to show others it can be moved.  It’s about being unapologetically you, taking control, choosing your attitude in adversity and being the best version of you to create the life you want.

How do you know what you really want? Is it truly status or success?

Unfortunately, these things do not always bring happiness. And aspects of our image or “performance driven existence” may not achieve satisfaction. Materialism is part of our refusal to accept ourselves as enough. All the things we use to repress our true selves are about being enough.

“Enoughness” is what we truly seek, but ego gets in the way.

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Ego is the perception of self as outer worth. It’s not REAL self worth.

Ego represses our true self with a new self— the self of chasing ‘“Am I ever enough?”’ questions. And instead of filling our true selves with self-love and acceptance, when we “should ourselves” and chase “enoughness,” we feed the ego or our image.

It’s important to realize YOU ARE ENOUGH, without all the material trappings.

Stanford psychologist Meagan O’Reilly describes the damage of not thinking we are enough. One of her tactics for combating this is to complete the sentence,[3]

“If I believed I were already enough, I’d ____”

What would you do if you felt you were enough?

By believing you are enough, you can live the life you want.

So many fake it to try to get there, and they end up losing themselves when they lose more and more touch with their Authenticity.

Final Thoughts

By being yourself, you are being brave. By acknowledging all you can be, you tell the universe that you can until you believe it too. The steps are easy, and you are worth it. All of it is about the purpose you are leading and the passion that is your fuel.

Being true to yourself is all about mastering how to live life authentically rather than faking or forcing it. Having the life you want (and deserve) is about being trusting in yourself and the purpose you are living for. Both need passion behind it, fueling it each second, or you will experience burn out.

When you are authentic, you can call the road you walk your own. When you live your life for you and not just the results of all your actions (faking it till you make it), you can let go of what you don’t need. This clarifies and pushes purpose to you, living for something that is greater than you.

You will find that making decisions based on what will actually achieve your goals, will help you attain the life you want, and your success with each step, will allow you to enjoy the process. Good luck!

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Featured photo credit: Ariana Prestes via unsplash.com

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